The USFL through their Facebook page has been unveiling their rules on March 23 and here’s what we have seen released thus far:
- Overtime– Overtime will initially be “soccer shootout” style. 3 possessions apiece from the 2 yardline going in. After the initial 3 attempts, teams will alternate possessions, sudden death style until a winner is declared.
- Timing– Clock will stop on 1st Downs inside of the 2 minute mark in the 2nd and 4th quarter to allow for more offense. No mention was made of a restart after the chains were set. This is an attempt to add offensive plays to the exciting parts of the game.
- Conversions– 1 pt conversion will be a place kick, PAT with the all at the 15 (32 yd FG), 2 pt conversion is an offensive play from the 2 yard line, and a 3 pt conversion will be an offensive play from the 10 yardline.
- Kickoff and Punt– Kickoffs will be from the 25 yardline, players have a 1 yard head start, 8 player minimum in the KOR “set up zone” 35 to 45 yardline. First touch after 20 yards must be by the receiving team. If a kick is “dead” receiving team will take the ball at this spot. (I am somewhat unclear on the KO rules, wording is a little vague). This actually more resembles a punt return for 8 of the 11 receiving team players. Gunners on the punt team must be inside the numbers and cannot be double-teamed until the ball is kicked.
- Pass Interference– Offensive Pass Interference is out on passes that don’t reach the line of scrimmage, and ineligible receiver downfield is removed on passes behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive pass interference will closely resemble the NCAA rule (spot foul under 15 yds and 15 yd penalty over 15 yds & a first down), what is specified is an “intentional tackle” further than 15 yds downfield, will be a spot foul.
- Onside Kicks/Possession After a Score Retention– Onside Kick is an option (traditional 10 yd Kickoff with an opportunity for recovery). The other option for possession retention after a score is a scrimmage play (4th & 12 from the 33) with the outcome being where the next play (either a turnover or 1st down) being from that spot.
- Instant Replay– Coaches will get one challenge per game and ALL replays will be handled by the same replay crew. A greater level of consistency and flow to the game is the reason. Many penalties will be reviewed and corrected by the replay crew in a booth initiated fashion.
- 2 Forward Passes– An offense can throw a forward pass behind the line of scrimmage that results in another forward pass. The obvious benefit of this is a disruption of the 1st pass isn’t a fumble, and some screen plays will be a little more complex than other versions of football.
There are some fun changes to conventional football rules, and enough preservation of regular football to be familiar. The season kicks off April 16th.