If you are reading the article then I assume that you are familiar with the APBA Football Game. If you have played the game for a while, then you are aware that each quarter is broken down into 30 full plays per quarter. Occasionally, a half play (15 seconds) is recorded, usually as a result of play such as an incomplete pass, a penalty, an out of bounds play, or a time out. When playing the game, it appears that the timing system used by APBA yields the proper amount of plays in the game, so that is not an issue. And, while some plays actually take a little longer than 30 seconds from snap to snap, others are actually shorter than 15 seconds from snap to snap, so it all seems to work out. Overall, the timing system works very nicely regarding the total number of plays.
So, why am I offering a suggested innovation if the timing system works so well? Well, because I would like to make it slightly more realistic in the last two minutes of the game. I’ll explain why I think that this is necessary as I go along.
With APBA, the final two minutes of a half can only have a maximum total of 8 plays, at the most. We already know that. And, calling our time outs is a very important decision to make as the time winds down. Because of the timing system, you can’t really call time outs as they would in real life because you will often end up having unused time outs if you wait too long. So, you have to really anticipate when they should be called. This article isn’t about when to call your time outs, per se.
Here is the meat of the article. I would occasionally run into a situation like this: Your team is driving, needing at least a field goal, late in the game. You have one time out left and there are 45 seconds remaining on the clock. Your team has just completed a 12-yard pass to the defensive team’s 34-yard line, and it would be a long (but makeable) 52-yard field goal from here. Since this completed pass requires full play you, as coach, must make a decision to either let the clock run down to 15 seconds, or call a time out. If you call the time out, then there will be 30 seconds remaining in the game, and if you run a play, and you can’t get the clock stopped, then you lose without being able to even try the field goal. Your other choice is to let the clock run down and try the kick from here, leaving no time for the opposition. If you choose this option, then you eat an unused time out, and you are attempting a very long field goal. That seems very unrealistic to me. If only there was a way to stop the clock, and save the time out for the field goal attempt. With my innovation, there is…..
I use, and suggest, that you implement the “spike play.” To go back to our example, there were 45 seconds before the pass. The play, at a minimum would take at least 15 seconds off of the clock. We are now down to 30 seconds left and the clock is running. I suggest that we call the spike play which immediately follows the pass, and turns that aforementioned 30-second pass play into a 15-second play, thereby stopping the clock with the intended incomplete (spike) pass. What I am envisioning is the QB hustling his guys up to the line after the 12-yard pass, and then lining up and spiking the ball. By doing so, there are now 30 seconds left, and the team keeps its time out, and can run their second down play (the first down play was the spiked pass) and still have the time out to stop the clock in the event of an in-bounds full timed play. The innovation can be used during the last two minutes, and under any situation. It will help you tremendously to get your time out usage correct.
Now, just as APBA makes a practice of having an ebb-and flow, a ying-and-yang, so must this option. There has to be a possible negative side to this. Since not too many bad things can happen by lining up and spiking the ball, there can’t be too much very serious going on as far as penalties are concerned. The only penalty that I can envision is a False Start penalty which would kill the clock. In order to simulate this, I roll one die and if whatever number result (you pick) occurs, then a False Start penalty is assessed. Per NFL rules a mandatory 10-second runoff of time is assessed, so the play that began with 45 seconds, dropped to 30 seconds because of the completed pass, is converted down to just 15 seconds left with the penalty being assessed. It’s a risk, but not a very big one. Being able to stop the clock is more than worth it by trying to spike the ball to save time.
I have one last innovation for you that goes along with this. What happens if, because of your “poor coaching decisions” (just kidding), you have an unused time out at the end of the game? Well, in real life, you might be able to call a last second time out. Perhaps there are a few seconds, and perhaps there aren’t. You don’t know. So, to add drama, if this situation develops, I allow the home team a 3 out of 6 (you pick the successful numbers) die roll chance of being able to successfully call a last second time out. For the visitors I allow a 2 out of 6 (again, you pick the successful numbers) chance of calling the time out. This is the old home field clock operator advantage kicking in. If the time out is successful, then you have one extra play. If not, then sorry, the game is over. You can’t actually plan on the strategy working, because it is up to the luck of the die roll, but it could give a team a last-second chance of “pulling victory out from the jaws of defeat.”
These are rules that I have been using for a while. Feel free to adopt them, modify them, in any way that you like. If you do modify them, please let me know because your way might be better than mine, and I may want to adopt your rule. <g>