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Running Into The Kicker Penalty

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Running Into The Kicker Penalty

Postby Zachaios » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:24 am

During the Kansas/Kansas State game a Personal foul "Roughing the Kicker" was made by the officiating crew.  This enabled Kansas to get a first down and really changed the momentum of the game.  The replay showed two things:  first that the K-State player went under the punter, who then landed on him and secondly that the KU defensive player apparently held and pulled the K-State player into the punter.  It is an interpretation of the intent of the player by the official.  Why not just have any contact with the punter considered a 15 yd personal foul and do away with an interpretation.  This same type of rule was changed and applied to the return man during a punt, when the opportunity to catch the ball is interfered with.  
Zachaios
 
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Running Into The Kicker Penalty

Postby Donel » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:38 am

During the Kansas/Kansas State game a Personal foul "Roughing the Kicker" was made by the officiating crew.  This enabled Kansas to get a first down and really changed the momentum of the game.  The replay showed two things:  first that the K-State player went under the punter, who then landed on him and secondly that the KU defensive player apparently held and pulled the K-State player into the punter.  It is an interpretation of the intent of the player by the official.  Why not just have any contact with the punter considered a 15 yd personal foul and do away with an interpretation.  This same type of rule was changed and applied to the return man during a punt, when the opportunity to catch the ball is interfered with.  
Donel
 
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Running Into The Kicker Penalty

Postby Delton » Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:19 pm

Todd,

Thank you for your question, it is an excellent one. First understand Rule 9-1-3 that governs running into or roughing the holder has evolved over the years.  At one time it was strictly a 15 yards personal foul for making any contact no matter how slight.  Then the rule was revised in the 1980s when the rules committee(made up of coaches) distinguished the type of contact.  The found that not all contact rose to the level of a personal foul.  Specifically, when the contact was merely brushing into the kicker where there was no significant contact.

The liberalizing of the rule would encourage defensive players to attempt to block kick yet still giving the kicker and holder protection.

It is not a foul for roughing or running into the kicker if the ball is blocked or contacted by the defensive player...  At one time the rule prohibited any contact regardless of whether the kick was touched/blocked.  The rules committee wanted to assure that a certain class of specialized players had protection under the rules [Kickers, Holders, Long Snappers & QB] when performing their specialized task that left them vulnerable to injury.  Hence the roughing fouls.

Players blocked into the holder or kicker are not exempt from a the 15 yard rough - they have a duty to "not contact" the kicker or holder; Fore it was their(defensive players) action that brought him into the backfield close to the kicker.  The blocking or "holding" as in your example does not vitiate their duty not to contact the holder/kicker.

While the kicker is in the act of kicking, he is govern the most protection under the rule.  Therefore, if a player is in the area occupied by the kicker(i.e. under the leg of the kicker whose leg is extended) the defensive player has the duty to vacate the area and to avoid any contact  if he(defensive player) has not touched the ball.  This contact is deemed roughing.  It is roughing because the kicker must be given a chance to regain his footing.  While one foot is in the air he is most vulnerable.

This is one rule that does not require the official to interpret the "intent" of the player, unless it was a flagrant roughing foul which results in an ejection.  With respect to the protection of the return man - Rule 6-4-1 through 6-5-2 governs.  This rule is distinguished from the Rule 9 protections above as Rule 9 is governing player safety and fairness.  Rule 6 governs the kicking game and Rule 6-4-1 governs the "opportunity to catch the ball" with a player safety overlay.

You may recall prior to 1983 if there was any interference of the return man contact or not there would be a foul - 15 yards Kick Catch interference.  Then the "5 yard donut" rule came into being; then the evolution of a 5 yard non contact interference and a 15 yard contact foul. Those rules are now revoked.  Mainly because special teams coaches were teaching players to "buzz" by the returner in hopes of a muff or fumble at the risk of only 5 yard penalty.  The rules committee doesn't ask the official to interpret intent but rather to exercise judgement as to one's opportunity to catch.  Likewise the official covering a kicker's action is exercising objective judgement not interpreting intent, unless the contact is flagrant.

Probably more information than you wanted, but I have taught seminars/classes on this very subject.

Hope this helps.
Delton
 
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Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:35 am


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