For once, Tim Marcum is sticking up for the officials.
The Storm coach, who has complained about inconsistent officiating throughout his 18-year Arena Football League coaching career, said Monday that rules changes adopted for this season that eliminated boundary lines on the side of the field have put unnecessary pressure on officials to judge whether a player is out of bounds.
"This is so hard to officiate, it's making us look stupid, in my opinion," Marcum said after reviewing videotape of his team's 61-60 victory over Georgia on Friday.
According to new rules approved by the Arena Football League Board and the players' association, boundary lines along the sideline are to be disregarded. A player must be forced into the wall by a defender to be ruled out of bounds.
Sounds simple, right? Far from it.
Georgia's Chris Jackson was knocked into the wall three times - and momentarily looked back, apparently waiting for a whistle - during a third-quarter kickoff return yet was awarded a 58-yard touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, Storm receiver Bobby Sippio's momentum took him into the wall after a 24-yard catch. Though he bounced off untouched and continued to the end zone, he was ruled out at the Georgia 17.
"They can't officiate it; they're not used to it," Marcum said. "When you go into the boards yourself, it doesn't mean anything. With the new rule, you've got to be able to bounce off the boards and go down the field. They missed that one, and we touched (Jackson) three times down there. The TV copy will show that very easily."
Officials aren't the only ones seemingly confused by the change. Georgia linebacker Kevin Aldridge was penalized for unnecessary roughness for pushing Sippio against the wall to make sure he was out of bounds after a first-quarter catch.
Marcum said he would prefer the league returned to the old rule, when contact with a boundary line or being forced into the wall by a defensive player put a player out of bounds.
"There's a line on the field for a reason," he said.
TICKED OFF: After reviewing videotape, Marcum said the final seven seconds should have elapsed after the Storm's Lawrence Samuels and Jonathan Ordway tackled Derek Lee at the Tampa Bay 1 and the official signaled for the clock to continue.
Instead, Georgia was awarded a timeout with one second remaining, enough time for quarterback Matt Nagy to run for a touchdown before attempting a potential winning two-point conversion pass.
"I thought the play clock ran out, should have run out," Marcum said. "I know this, of the 18 venues across the United States of America, Georgia would not have been able to run a play unless the official had put time back on the clock in 17 of the 18 venues."
Asked if he'd had a discussion with the clock operator since the game, Marcum said, "What do you think?"
TWO-HEADED MONSTER: Samuels was ArenaFan Online's Two-Way Player of the Week after catching 10 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns, returning an interception 23 yards and making two tackles, including one unassisted. He also tipped a pass that Lynaris Elpheage intercepted.
ON THE MEND: Offensive specialist Freddie Solomon, who sustained a foot injury in the fourth quarter, "is probably out" for Sunday's game against Orlando at the St. Pete Times Forum. Defensive specialist Tramain Jones, who couldn't move his neck Monday, is questionable, Marcum said. Ordway (lower back contusion) is expected to play.
One of two receivers/defensive backs, Alphonso Roundtreeor Leroy Smith, could be activated from injured reserve to add depth in the secondary.
UP FRONT: Lineman Mondre Dickerson made his first appearance Friday after being activated from injured reserve. He replaced Mike Lawson, who was released.