Move forces Blue to scramble

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:16 PM ET

The Bombers had to adjust their offensive game plan Monday after learning the CFL will be conducting an experiment with one of its officials tomorrow night in Edmonton.

In an attempt to make it safer for the official, the CFL will move the umpire from four or five yards in front of the line of scrimmage to 10 yards in front of it.

Normally the umpire would start five yards off the line and move towards the quarterback when the play started. Now he will stay put, 10 yards deep, which could create problems on crossing patterns.

"It's a distraction right now for the QB, and that's my main concern," Bombers head coach Doug Berry said.

George Black, the CFL's director of officiating, said in the past three seasons six of his umpires have required knee or shoulder surgeries or suffered concussions after getting run over.

"If we're going to adjust it, I'm sure the quarterbacks can adjust," Black said. "It's a safety issue. We don't want our guys getting hammered, and I don't want our guys wearing helmets."

The experiment was also conducted during Winnipeg's pre-season game last Friday in Hamilton. Berry learned of it when starting quarterback Kevin Glenn came off the field after the first series wondering why the umpire was 10 yards downfield.

The umpire who worked the game in Hamilton, Bill Hagans, told Black that he didn't so much as get bumped in his new location.

Tomorrow's B.C.-Toronto game is the only other contest this week that will do a trial run, and the league will make a decision soon.

To get his quarterbacks used to the relocated umpire, Berry put a referee's jersey on a tackling dummy and put it 10 yards past the line of scrimmage at yesterday's practice.

NFL Europa put its umpires in the offensive backfield this season, and the NFL plans to do the same during its pre-season games later this summer.

Black is cool to that idea because he feels the umpire would be too far out of position.


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