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Mike Pereira analyzes Week 10 calls

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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

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People used to call the Florida-Georgia game "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

They could have called Saturday's second half in Jacksonville, "The World's Largest Outdoor Flag Party," where there were 10 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called.

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I've been to the Florida-Georgia game before, and it's a very emotional rivalry — one of the most emotional ones I've seen.

And the emotions got the best of both teams in the third quarter and at the end of the game

You know what happens when a game starts to get chippy? Officials warn players … and then they start throwing flags. And you're not likely to see any more than were thrown in the third quarter, when there was a personal foul for a horse-collar tackle and six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties all within a two-minute span.

In the first one, the two fouls offset. Then at the 4:06 mark, Florida had the ball, third-and-3 at its own 43-yard line, when Solomon Patton carried the ball for two yards and then was dragged down by his collar by Georgia's Josh Harvey-Clemons. That's when the sea of yellow began.

First, Harvey-Clemons was penalized 15 yards for a horse-collar. Then a skirmish broke out and four more flags followed, with four players being called for unsportsmanlike conduct, two on each team.

The unsportsmanlike fouls offset, but that doesn't mean the penalty goes away necessarily, because players who commit an unsportsmanlike conduct foul are ejected from the game if that player is called for another one.

Then came the messy end.

With 1:20 left in the game, Georgia was holding onto a three-point lead and facing a third-and-5 at the Florida 25-yard line. Georgia running back Todd Gurley was stopped for no gain, but Florida's Darious Cummings was called for a personal foul, basically sealing the game for Georgia. That's also when Flag Fest, Part II took place.

Four more unsportsmanlike conduct penalties followed on the next play --three on Georgia and one on Florida. So let's go to the statistics:

There were 13 total penalties called in the game, seven on Florida, six on Georgia.

There were 10 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called in the second half, six on Georgia, four on Florida. 

Flags are certainly a way to get control of a game like this -- and in many cases, it's the only way.

It's always been a tough game to work, and in my mind, the officials did a good job of keeping the game under control the best they could.


I would think Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury subscribes to the theory "I'd rather be lucky than good."

His 10th-rated Red Raiders are good, but they also got very lucky towards the end of the first half in their game against Oklahoma State Saturday night on FOX. Here was the situation: 

Texas Tech had the ball, first-and-10 at its own 30-yard line with 29 seconds remaining in the half. Oklahoma State led 28-24. Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb dropped back to pass and had to scramble when pressured by the Cowboys' Calvin Barnett. It appeared that Webb fumbled the ball and it was picked up by Tyler Patmon, who returned it for a touchdown.

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However, the officials ruled that Webb's forward progress had been stopped before he fumbled. The play was not reviewed, and that's the part of the play that was officiated correctly.

Because the ruling on the field was that Webb's forward progress was stopped before the ball was stripped, the play was then deemed not reviewable. The officials didn't rule that Webb was down; they ruled that his forward progress was stopped. And that is a pure judgement call and not reviewable.

But I don't see how you could say that Webb's progress was stopped. You actually see the referee throw the bean bag, indicating he had the ball coming out of Webb's hands before progress was stopped. But officials on the line of scrimmage, who are responsible for ruling forward progress, ruled him stopped.

In the end, when this is reviewed by the Big 12 Conference, they'll likely conclude that progress wasn't stopped on the play.

Good and lucky -- not a bad combination.


So just as we were finishing up with a significant forward progress play in the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech game, along came another one in the Miami-Florida State mega matchup. Here was the situation:

Miami had the ball, second-and-12 at the Hurricanes' 20-yard line with 9:58 left in the second quarter. Florida State led 14-7. Miami running back Duke Johnson took the ball and was pushed back two yards by FSU's Kacy Rodgers. Johnson broke loose and reversed his field and appeared to be on his way for a touchdown.

However, the ruling on the field was that Johnson's forward progress was stopped after he had been driven backwards. As it was in the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech game, the play was not reviewable.

Forward progress is by definition a judgment call. It's a ruling by the officials that says defensive contact has stopped a player's forward motion and he's being driven backwards, thus ending the play. The player gets the further most spot that he had advanced prior to the push backwards.

That's the rule, and it's not reviewable when it comes to fumbles or progress spots. The only time it can be reviewable is when it's at the goal line, when it comes to determining whether or not it's a score or at the first down line to determine whether or not it's a first down.

I got a lot of Twitter questions on the Miami-FSU play, asking whether or not forward progress should have been stopped. On this play, officials blew the whistle and shut down the play and Florida State players stopped pursuing. So in my mind, it's clear Duke Johnson wouldn't have broken loose for a touchdown.

Tagged: Florida State, Miami (FL), Florida, Georgia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas

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