Southeastern Conference coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw said despite the huge number of plays and controversial calls Saturday in LSU’s 74-72 seven-overtime loss at Texas A&M, the crew calling the game in College Station, Texas, by and large got them right.
“There has been some narrative out there that this crew really had a bad game,” Shaw said Tuesday in a phone interview. “We haven’t finished our film grading — by Wednesday night we have all the film grades in.
“But this crew did not have a horrible or bad game, just some tough plays to deal with.”
Shaw addressed four specific officiating decisions from the game:
1. Kellen Mond’s knee going down
With 36 seconds left in regulation and LSU leading 31-24, the Texas A&M quarterback bobbled a shotgun snap, dropped to a knee to retrieve the ball, got up and was intercepted by LSU’s Grant Delpit, who slid down with 29 seconds left. After a review, Mond was ruled down for an 8-yard loss and a 10-second runoff set the clock at 26 seconds.
“He picks up the nose of the ball, which is odd,” Shaw said. “But he got firm control. He knee is down, then he continues to come up.”
An initial referee whistle when Mond’s knee was down might have left Texas A&M with little time but to try a desperate pass or two from its own 39 that may have come nowhere close to the end zone. Shaw defended his officials saying because of the quick nature of the play, they had to review to make sure Mond was indeed down.
“You have to be 1,000 percent sure before you blow your whistle,” Shaw said.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron spoke publicly for the first time since the Tigers' epic seven-overtime, 74-72 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday in …
2. Spiking the ball at the end of regulation
With 3 seconds left, Mond completed a 22-yard pass to Kendrick Rogers to the LSU 19. The Aggies got to the line of scrimmage and Mond spiked the ball. Though the clock ran down to zero, a review put 1 second back on the clock. Mond then threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Quartney Davis to tie the game 31-31.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron disputed the Aggies’ ability to spike the ball in time, but Shaw said the rule was properly applied.
“If there is 3 or more seconds, he can spike the ball and his team can get another play,” Shaw said.
There have been questions about Texas A&M being in an illegal formation. Shaw said while the formation “looked odd,” with four wide receivers set to the right side of the line, it was legal because the receivers heads “must break the waistline of the snapper.” Video of the play appeared to show this.
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3. Catch or no catch?
In the first overtime, LSU got the ball first and scored on a field goal. A&M then got the ball, and Mond threw a pass to tight end Jace Sternberger, who was hit immediately by Delpit and lost the ball. The pass was ruled incomplete.
“He begins to catch the ball and he gets hit before he has it tucked away,” Shaw said. “By rule, this is incomplete. He needs to tuck the ball away or make an act common to the game. A football catch. He does not complete the catch.”
Orgeron considered calling a timeout to allow more time for a review. The official assured Orgeron the play was being reviewed, which Shaw confirmed, and that Orgeron could call his timeout if he wished. Orgeron decided not to.
“Replay reviews every play,” Shaw said. “We don’t stop every play. It’s similar to every scoring play. Every one is reviewed, but a lot of times we don’t stop the game and go to the headset. Most are confirmed without having to stop the game.”
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4. Greedy Williams' penalties
In the final overtime, Texas A&M was throwing for two points and the win. Mond threw incomplete for Rogers but LSU cornerback Greedy Williams was flagged for pass interference. Williams was then called for unsportsmanlike conduct when he reacted to the call by the official, who threw his hat to signify the second penalty.
The penalties moved the ball inside the LSU 1, but A&M was flagged for a false start that moved the ball back to the 5. From there, Mond threw to Rogers for the winning points.
Shaw said the pass interference penalty could have been handled differently. He also did not like seeing the official have to throw his hat for the second penalty on Williams.
“The defender jumps the route and there is a slight tug,” Shaw said. “Technically it’s probably pass interference, but in this situation I’d like to see more (before a penalty is called). Process the play longer.
“Unfortunately the official didn’t carry two flags and threw the hat, and I didn’t like the look of that. But from the dialog between the player and official, the foul was warranted.”
Shaw also said the targeting ejection on LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips in the fourth overtime was properly called on the field and in the review process. Shaw added that he has not heard any complaints about the call from LSU.
Phllips will be suspended from the first half of the Tigers’ bowl game.
No doubt LSU fans have plenty of questions about the officiating in the Tigers' epic seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M on Saturday.