Question from a U.S. fan

Hey guys, I've lurked on this board for several years, but finally posting now. I've always been a fan of alternative football leagues (Arena Football fan for 10+ years) and developed quite a fondness for the CFL over the years. I have a great respect for the Canadian game as well as Canadian culture and hope to Attend a Grey Cup in the near future. While I've watched the CFL for a number of years, I have only really followed closely the past 3 or 4 years as games have become accessible on NFL Network, ESPN 3, and looking forward to watching on NBC Sports this year.

For the most part I have picked up on the majority of rules and strategies of the CFL, and while I don't necessarily have a favorite team I've become quite a fan Calvillo and the Als. I just have a few questions I was hoping you fine folks could clear up for me.

  1. How does the game clock work exactly? I've seen games where the clock is at 0:00 and they will still run a play and other times where they will walk off the field with the clock running like in the NFL. Same thing with the 3 minute warning, I've noticed sometimes the refs will whistle at 3mins and other times a play will be run and clock not stopped until almost down to 2 mins.
  2. Kickoffs confuse me a bit too. If I recall correctly, I've seen teams get the ball automatically at the 35. I believe it was after a safety and/or field goal. Why/when does this happen?
  3. Giving up safeties. In what instances do teams decide to concede the 2pts as opposed to punting away? Also is punting out of bounds penalized, I could of sworn to see flags when a punt goes out of bounds.

Just as a P.S. I've watched quite a few games with my buddies that are hardcore NFL fans. I've yet to hear any of them say anything negative about the CFL. I think the same could be said about alot of American gridiron fans. If they just give a game or 2 a watch, I'm sure they'll fall for the Canadian game just as I have.

First, welcome to the forum lax, and glad to see another "enlightened" American amongst us. :slight_smile:

I'll take a short stab at this since no one else has and you deserve a response:

  1. Game Clock - it is 20 seconds from when the play is blown in. There is only stop time after the 3-minute warning; otherwise time runs real time. If the clock is at 0:00, you should not necessarily rely on the clock you see on the TSN feed as it is not the official clock. Even if it is at zero, a game cannot end on a play with an accepted penalty; in that instance another play will be run even though the clock is zero. Also, a play may be whistled in when there is still time on the clock (say 8 seconds) but before the 20-second clock runs out and even before the play is run, the clock can be down to zero - that play can still finish with the clock at zero. I am not sure of your last sentence in this section of your questions - the clock should always stop at the 3-minute warning (or more precisely, when the play finishes that crosses over the 3-minute mark). Note that the 3-minute warning applies only to the end of the game, not the end of the 1st half.

  2. This can happen in one of the situations described: after a field goal (only), the team that gave up the field goal can choose to take the ball at their own 35-yard line or have the other team kick off.

  3. This is a good question but one that has no "rule" or particular logic. The trade-off is take a safety, give up two points, kick off from your own 25 (which, with a 110-yard field, is a long ways to the other team's 35-yard line) and give back pretty good field position at best and really good field position at worst - even a reasonable run-back puts the other team in almost instant field-goal position. So taking is safety leave a high likelihood that they will give up 5 points (2 + field goal), if not 9 (2 plus TD). I think two factors that teams consider above others is whether they are kicking against the wind and their "fear" of whoever the returner is.

Hope this helps. I am sure others will chime in if I have made any errors or omissions ...

Forgot to respond to your second part of item 3, penalties for punting out of bounds. If the ball lands in the field of play and goes out of bounds, it is no penalty no matter where it goes out of bounds. If the ball goes out of bounds in flight and the point where it crosses the sidelines in flight determines one of two possibilities: 1. if that point is between the goal lina and the 20 yard line, there is no penalty either; or 2. if beyond the 20-yard line, that is where there can be a penalty assessed. The rationale behind the rule is to strike a balance between encouraging punt returns (way more exciting than a punt out of bounds ... or a fair catch, if I may say!!) but still allowing for some skill in being able to pin a team deep with a "coffin corner" kick.

There ye go ...

Also just to add to what Beagle said, they recently moved the kick offs back 10 yards for teams conceding a safety. This has encouraged more teams to punt away instead of give up 2 points. You'll still see instances where a safety gets conceded, usually when they're kicking into a strong wind, but it used to be almost automatic and now it's hard to know what a team will do. Adds a bit of excitement.

Welcome. I don't have all the answers but here is what I know. Unfortunate to hear about your preference fot the Al's. We can use all the NFL fans we can get. Others will correct me, I'm no expert on all the rules.

If it is the last play of the game and there is a penalty in that play against the team with possession the can be another another. The rules is that a game can not end on a penalty. It's a good rule because it's happened where the next play, clock still at zero, has resulted in a TD. That win ending up winning the game instead of losing. Most Rider fans are familiar with our lose to Matt Dunigan with BC and Glen Suitor having a mental fart that resultd in a penalty with no time remaining.

Teams after a score have the option to reciever a kick or to take the ball on the 35 yd line. This is typically done to conserve time at the end of a game when you need to get down field to score some points. Saves the time lost during the kick off. Or it can happen if your returner is hurt or not playing well.

Teams pinned in thier own end and kicking from 15 yds or less may take a safety and give up 2 points. Then they kick from the 25 yd line. This can happen if the have to kick into a stiff wind which will result in a short punt or your punter sucks or is injured. Winnipeg and Regina have very strong winds.

As for the punts, with such a wide field the league wants to see as many punt returns as possile. You'll have noticed like this year that most teams have a designated returner who is very fast. Lots of TDs scored that way. In the past teams could kick it out of bounds and they did because the returners were racking up the point. Out of bound kicks killed the return game. So now your only allowed to kick it out of bounds only if it goes out between the 0 and 20 yd line of the opponent. At any other yardage you are penalized. So alot of punts from your half of the field you are forced to kick to thier returner. Special teams now factor in alot more to stop the returner or to open lanes for him to score. Unfortunately there always seems to be a holding call which negates the return, but it was exciting to watch. Ones that end in a TD are very exciting.

Hope you guys get NBC to cover the weekend games as well. Hopefully the games they are covering are not boring so we attract more American fans.

Yes welcome and great to see another Als fan amongst us :smiley:

Sorry I'm writing on an iPad while watching the bomber vs Eskimo game. I tried to edit my original post to correct all the errors but it won't allow it.

Al's need all the fans they can get :wink:

With regards to 00:00 time. If play is whistled in and there is still time left on the clock, the play can be fully played out, even if the ball isn't snapped before the clock hits 00:00. So it's possible to snap the ball and run a 10 sec. final play after time has run out. If there's a penalty, the final play can be re-played despite 00:00 on the clock (game can't end on a penalty). If the clock runs out while a play is under way, that final play can be run to its conclusion.

The 3:00 minute warning does not stop the clock. The warning period starts at the conclusion of the play which runs through the 3:00 mark. That's why the break sometimes happens at 2:40, for instance, with a 2-minute commercial break. During the 3:00 warning period, the time clock stops after each play while the ball is reset at the line of scrimmage (which can extend the number of plays in the final 3:00 minutes). Normally, the clock keeps running after running plays and pass completions in bounds.

Punting out of bounds between the 20 yard lines results in a 10 yd penalty at the point the ball went out of bounds. Punts that bounce OOB or go OOB inside the 20 yd lines are not penalized.

WELCOME to the fun football league :thup:

Or as Robin Williams calls it "that mutant form of football". I prefer the Canadian Fun league myself (as opposed to the No Fun League :wink: ).

I feel your frustration with the penalties laxtreme, especially if your feed includes TSN announcers. Rod Black is well known for talking right through a penalty call so you can't even hear the officals PA announce on the call. :roll: Try logging in while you watch the game and follow the game thread. You can follow what fans are saying about the action and ask questions about what just happened. Lots of fine folks that would help an American fan learn the finer points of our game. A lot of it is abvious but there are some subtle differences that are confusing to new fans and the American players.

1 - end of quarters there must be a final play...if there is 1 second + left at the whistle there will be 1 more play barring penalty. 4 down football you can call it a game if there is more time on the play clock than game clock...CFL will sit at 0.

2 - Kickoffs...teams that surrender a field goal can take it at the 35 or take a kickoff. After a TD there will be a kickoff.

3 - Safeties are generally surrendered if the kicker will be standing in the endzone (so snapping from inside the 15 there is a higher potential). However, there has been a shift in mentality on this of late. We see more teams kicking and hoping for a defensive stop...even if they surrender a FG (seeing as it is only one more point). This is largely due to that in 2009 the ball was moved from the 35 to the 25 for kickoffs following a safety. Teams now generally only look at surrendering if inside the 10 when snapping for punts. Simply put, now, if you kick from your 25 they are probably going to be near FG range anyways (remembering that a huge difference between NFL is that the CFL places the uprights on the goal line, not the back of the endzone).