The USFL passes the halfway point of its debut season in 2022 as it heads into Week 6. The league continues to make changes to the rules on the fly as issues arise. In Week 4, Michigan Panthers head coach Jeff Fisher was the center of a shift in some USFL rules. Furthermore, the league announced some changes to rosters amid some of the injuries teams face. Let’s look at how the USFL is adapting its rules on the fly.
USFL Rules: extra point clarification
Following Week 4, the USFL’s Head of Officiating, Mike Pereira, issued a statement regarding Panthers HC Jeff Fisher not being able to change his mind on the extra-point attempt. Michigan scored a touchdown with 5:27 left in the second quarter, and initially, Fisher was intent on kicking the extra point. However, Fisher called a timeout after lining up and wanted to go for two instead.
When informing the officials of his change of heart, they told him he could not reverse the decision once the ball was made ready for play. Pereira clarified that the USFL would allow coaches to use a timeout to change their minds on the point-after attempt as long as the ball hasn’t been snapped or the offense commits a presnap penalty. Additionally, if the defense is flagged before the snap, the scoring team may change their option with the penalty enforced from the spot they choose — a sensible change in the USFL’s rules.
Roster size increase
The USFL has had some injury issues as the season reaches the halfway point. The hardest thing facing teams right now is roster size. Before Week 6, the active roster had 38 slots, and the practices squad had just seven. Some franchises were put in a tough spot when significant players got injured. Do we keep them on the team and eat a roster spot, or cut them and hope someone else doesn’t pick them up?
Well, the USFL gave teams some relief by changing some rules. The active roster grows from 38 to 40 and the practice squad from seven to 10. This should allow teams to sign third-string QBs in case of injuries, like the situations in Philadelphia and Michigan. They should also be able to field separate punters and kickers on the active roster. The current one-man/two-positions game is an issue plaguing special teams. While it’s just five players, the changes to the roster rules by the USFL should provide a positive impact.
Changes to a running clock
Pereira also announced some changes to the rules regarding the clock in the first and third quarters before Week 4. Currently, USFL games are averaging a little over three hours. The USFL will adopt a running clock after incomplete passes in the first and third quarters to keep games under the three hours.
Per Pereira, they do not expect this to result in a decrease of plays or opportunities for teams on offense while also shortening the game’s length. The USFL wants to create the perfect spring football product. Making these changes on the fly shows their dedication to getting things right.