Just a few questions...

I’ve noticed on the sidelines, sometimes they have the new digital down markers and sometimes they have the old-school shutter-style down markers. Aren’t these supplied by the league? Why wouldn’t they have the same across every game? Or are the new ones so expensive they are just buying them one at a time?

The commentators have said in a couple games now that the offence must have the quarterback on the field, even if he doesn’t take the snap. I’ve done a digital search of the 2018 rulebook and I can’t find this rule. Can someone point it out to me? Or are the commentators wrong (again)?

We have been told that Saskatchewan only dresses two quarterbacks and that DB Nick Marshall is their third quarterback. The rulebook explicitly states that each team is required to dress three quarterbacks and that no quarterback may enter the game on defence. So Marshall can’t be their third quarterback. But they’re not dressing one, which is against the rules. If #1 and #2 are injured, Marshall can go in as quarterback, but according to the commentators, one of the other QBs must also be on the field. Somebody is wrong here! It might be me. That’s ok, I just wanna know!

In Rule 6, Section 4, Article 8, the Note at the bottom of page 50 seems to indicate that the defence can “get away with” illegal contact on a receiver if, for instance, Nick Marshall takes the snap. Or on one of those fun plays where the QB hands off to a back who throws it. Or on a third down “trick play”. Am I wrong in that interpretation?

Anyone remember the CFL.ca’s Ask The Ref feature? You could send in officiating questions like these and George Black would answer them. That was helpful. Their officiating Twitter account does none of that, only regurgitating the rulebook on current plays and never answering a single question, as far as I can tell.

I don’t think that’s a rule. The rules concerning quarterbacks on the field seem to be limited to:

  • A team must dress two or three designated quarterbacks;
  • Only one designated quarterback can be on the field at any time;
  • A designated quarterback cannot enter the field on defence;
  • A designated quarterback cannot participate at a position other than at quarterback (which includes kicking, punting, placeholding);
  • The third designated quarterback cannot perform kicking duties.

The full rules are listed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 23 - Roster Size.

And as you mentioned, a non-designated quarterback could come in at quarterback. That would prevent one of the designated quarterbacks from being on the field, as he’d be in a different position.

As mentioned above, teams must dress either two or three designated quarterbacks. Anyone else on the team can come in as quarterback if required / desired.

Not dressing a third quarterback does not create an additional roster spot anywhere else. The roster size rules state that all teams can have either:

(a) a maximum of 44 Players, including 3 Players who shall be identified as quarterbacks and 41 other Players, of whom not more than 20 may be Internationals, or (b) a minimum of 43 Players, including two Players who shall be identified as quarterbacks and 41 other Players, of whom not more than 20 may be Internationals.

I never noticed this before, but you are correct.

Note: The “Illegal Contact on a Receiver? restrictions of this article only apply when a Designated Quarterback is the first player to gain possession of the snap. If the Designated Quarterback loses or surrenders possession the restrictions are no longer in effect. Additionally, on a play where Team A kicks the ball across the line of scrimmage or lines up in a kicking formation the Illegal Contact on a Receiver restrictions do not apply.
And it makes sense. Once a player other than the quarterback touches the ball in the backfield, the defence would naturally assume that it's probably a running play, and can start to play that way, pushing players out of the way to get to the ball carrier.

Interestingly, the way it is written, it would also apply in the case where a non-designated quarterback takes the position of quarterback.

I think the statement that a QB has to be on the field on an offensive play has something to do with the national/international ratio. Since the QB counts as neither a national nor an international towards the ratio, not having one on the field on an offensive play confuses things.
I remember when they legalized the “wildcat” play, there was something about the rule that stated a QB had to be on the field. But really, how is a wildcat play any different from a fake punt?
Hopefully this explanation will make it easier for someone to find that reference in the rule book and post the explanation here.

It doesn’t confuse the international rule. Remember, the international rule is described in terms on what happens when a designated international enters the game, namely that one of the unrestricted internationals has to leave the field. As quarterbacks aren’t unrestricted internationals, the only players who can replace them are nationals.

Not sure if this has changed in recent years but I’m fairly certain most of the game equipment is provided by the home club for regular season games.

So you’re saying that when a QB leaves the field, he must be replaced by a national? I’m not sure that’s true. The rule says that you must have at least 7(?) nationals on your offence and defence. Taking out a QB and replacing him with an international doesn’t change the number of nationals you have on the field.

See, it doesn’t confuse the rule; it confuses people, myself included.

The actual rule says nothing about nationals. It refers to (up to) 20 internationals, 16 of whom are unrestricted (aka “starting”), with the remainder (up to 4) listed as designated internationals (DIs). The DIs are subject to the restriction that when one enters the field, one of the 16 unrestricted internationals on the same side of the ball must be off the field. As the designated quarterbacks are not included in these 16, they cannot be replaced by one of the designated internationals. They can only be replaced by a national or by one of the unrestricted internationals on defence (e.g. Whitlock at fullback on the Ticats).

The league has confused people by talking about a minimum seven nationals, but this actually isn’t the case. In fact, there is a way of cheating the system to play as few as three nationals. If you really want to confuse yourself, take a look at the thread I started on the topic a few months back.

Loophole in Ratio?

Regarding the digital down markers: The league requires that teams purchase them (they actually own multiple so there’s a backup available), but the teams each purchase and store them.

There’s no specific reason why every version isn’t digital - other than it doesn’t offer a significant improvement over the manual version, and the manual version doesn’t require being charged. I suppose we’ll slowly go all-digital as the manual types break or get damaged over time.

Thanks for attempting to explain it to me. I may just be a lost cause as far as this rule goes. But you’re right, the league and TSN have confused a lot of us by attempting to simplify it.