The Wisdom of Dan Louie...

Alertness

A small work with Titanic implications for we sail or sink based upon it. This area is more abstract then the others and is harder to express but I will now set sail. 

Good officials never hide behind position or game duties as proscribed by manual. WE ALL need to pay attention to the seemingly little details to ensure that the game is administered correctly and fairly. In no particular order this is what I work at in my games.  

Clock awareness  Whether working 4,5,6,7 man crews we all should be aware of the time. This ensures that no one official is left on the hood if there is a discrepancy. I look at the clock while the teams are in their huddle. I also look on any signal which stops the clock. We may be a few seconds off but it is an easier sell if we tell the coach, ĒSir, we are putting 4 seconds back on because we had that as the official time.Ē Coach may still be unhappy but he canít really complain to vociferously if we are able to convey that WE are watching it.   

Substitutions  As the flank official I am on the sideline and make a note of players going off and coming on by number. My personal habit is to mentally say to myself, ď66, 34 out 33, 76 in. Ē I repeat this several times so that I am confident of who can legally participate.  

Down  We should all communicate the new down with hand signals. I move my down indicator after the ready for play. This assures me that I am on the right down. What ever system you use keep it.  

Rhythm  Is important to making this automatic. When I am the LJ I assist the LM by checking the location and down on the box. I never let a team snap with the box on the wrong down or in the wrong location.  

Ball mechanics  I donít worry about quickly getting in the new ball but I want to make certain that the ball being brought in is a legal ball. I pay special attention in passing or kicking situations. Letting a team play with an unapproved or illegal ball may seem picky but it provides that team with an unfair advantage and speaks volumes about our attention to detail...it is the little things which make or break us.  

Crew  I like to know where my fellow officials are before I mark the ball ready for play. I never want to start with the flanks talking with the coach or a player. As a flank official I still like to be aware so that I can prevent the Ref from prematurely winding. I want to know what spot my opposite official has so that if the umpire takes it I can mirror it.  

Team tendencies  I spend the first quarter trying to get a feel for when teams like to pass, kick, etc so that I can properly anticipate the play.  

The ball in play  Simple SEE THE BALL. I anticipate fumble on every run. I never kill the play or rule until I actually see the ball somewhere.  

Kicks  I go over all the things I need to be aware of when I am the LJ or LM. Fair catch, touching, blocking, interference, etc. Once the ball has been kicked I focus on the players. They will tell you with their body language when the ball is coming down.  Bouncing between Fed and NCAA I have to remind myself of kicks into the end zone and differences.  

Penalties   Donít fall into the trap of believing the Referee and/or the Umpire have enforcement responsibilities. We all should know the penalty and the proper enforcement. As the LJ I say to myself, ďPI, 15 from the previous and auto first down.Ē  When I have the foul I want to know the numbers involved. It isnít always possible but I have found that I can do this 95% of the time and Iíll settle for that. All I want to do is to reduce my margin of error to help sell my credibility. I also want to see the entire play so that I know the block in the back was illegal from start to finish. Alertness also helps me see any touchings which may change my rulings. Is anyone else thinking, gee, mechanics play a big part in this? 

This is why my list, for me, must be a combination of all its elements before I feel I had an okay game. Field awareness. I want to know if the goal line is a factor, if the line to gain is being threatened, is the ball on the opposite hash, etc. So, there is my list for alertness.