When a sack is not a sack (Part II)

By Mike Churchward

In June,  I wrote about a specific play in college football–in which a quirk in the NCAA scoring rules results in a sack not actually being scored as such. Now I’m sharing another type of play in which the logical scoring of the play should be a sack, but it is not.

According to the 2019 NCAA statistical guide:

“For plays that end either on the line of scrimmage or beyond, there is no pass sack credited, but rather it is considered a rushing play. There can be no pass sack (or tackle for loss) without loss of yardage.”  

The reason why this ruling is significant is that there are plenty of sacks that also have fumbles. If the ball is fumbled forward to, or beyond, the line of scrimmage then the play is considered a rush and not a sack.

This ruling does not include whether the ball is recovered by the offense or the defense, just that the ball is fumbled to, or beyond, the line of scrimmage. This means that the defender that hit the quarterback, and caused the fumble, does not get credit for a sack because the result of the play did not lose any yards.

Much like our previous example, this play is a rarity, but it occurs enough to where it can affect this major statistical category.

While Chase Young (who is the current leader in sacks) has not been affected by his rule, there are other notable players who have been. Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings (lost a sack vs South Carolina),  Oregon State’s Hamilcar Rashed Jr. (lost a sack vs Cal Poly), West Virginia’s Dante Stills (lost a sack vs Kansas) and Wisconsin’s Zack Baun (lost a sack vs Michigan) are just a few players whose sack totals have been affected by this obscure rule.

The NFL addresses this type of play in a completely different manner.

According the 2019 NFL Guide for Statisticians:

 “If a teammate or opponent recovers beyond the line of scrimmage, credit the passer with a sack for 0 yards.”

This seems like a better way to record this play, as it gives credit to all the players that are involved in the play. The defender that hits the quarterback and causes the fumble will get credit for a 0-yard sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

The way the NCAA handles this situation is shortchanging the defensive player who caused the fumble. The NCAA only gives credit for the fumble while the NFL appropriately assigns the correct defensive statistics to the right player. Once again, the two most popular levels of football do not agree on how to record a sack.

1 Comment

  • Robert farmacka

    I would have to agree. That is a very crazy obscure rule. In my opinion there ought to be a strip and a sack, as in as long as a quarterback was wrapped up and hit the ground he got sacked no matter which way the ball went. As long as it was still in his position when he was originally hit whether his hand was moving forward or not, and I do agree with the empty hand rule in reference to incomplete passes and loss of possession. That being said, if a defensive player gets to the quarterback and he still has the ball in his possession whether his hands moving forward or not and he gets wrapped up and taken to the ground that defensive players should be credited with the sack period. "F.T.D.S.". And that ought to apply from Peewee to the NFL and everything in between simple. Now on a side note, nothing to do with this conversation. Just as a point of reference. Patrick Mahomes receiving a half a billion dollars over the next decade as I read in a report, which would be 160 regular season games. What player in the world is worth 3,125,000.00 per game. The NFL has completely allowed these players and their agents to overvalue themselves so badly that no one can afford to go to a sporting event. I understand the stands are Still Pact, and I know they're asking this insane amount of money because of the stadium owners, investors and board members who wants so much for a box of Cracker Jacks and a beer. The two just keeps snowballing on top of each other. And the American people should all stand up in one voice and say we're sick of the price gouging. And just maybe because of this covid-19 the stadium owners and their conglomerates can see just how much money they would lose if the American people stood up and said no more. Yes this is coming from a born-and-bred red-blooded American Texans land owner bought and paid for. There ought to be a salary-cap on how much a player can make. How much a stadium can charge. price gouging. Is price gouging. I understand we are getting in on freedom of Commerce, supply and demand. Now this is a privilege not a right. But because the stadium owners have gotten so greedy. Builders think They have to charge $1,000 a bolt to build a stadium. "That's just some stupid number I pulled out of my head but you get the point," so they can make sure they get in on the actions/profits the stadium owners investors and board members are going to make because they need $27 for two hot dogs and two Cokes. If they wouldn't have been so greedy in the first place, the players would have never started asking for so damn much. So we're all the way back to the beginning. Okay I'm done. Maybe this could be a subject y'all could hit on and take a national poll by the public and not just the 1%.

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