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Rules review video: Roughing the kicker, forced touching, and kick catch interference

National college officiating coordinator Steve Shaw explains some rulings from Week 7



2023 media video #8

National coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw posted his weekly video breaking down rules and interpretations from Week 7 of the college football season. The following replay statistics were given, which Shaw said are more or less consistent with last season’s totals.

2023 (7 weeks)
Replay stoppages2.2/game
Replay reversals/overturns0.9/game
Stoppage time1:54/stoppage
4:10/game (avg.)
  • 83% of all replays fit these 5 categories, with about half of all reviews from the first two:
    1. Catch/no catch
    2. Targeting
    3. Scoring plays
    4. Line to gain plays
    5. Fumble/runner down
  • Roughing the kicker. After rolling right and punting the ball, the punter is met with contact that would be enough for roughing the kicker; however, roughing the kicker does not apply outside of the tackle box, so the proper call of no foul was made.
  • Receiving team touching a punt. During a punt play, the ball appears to touch a member of the receiving team and is then picked up by the kicking team and attempted to be returned. By rule, a kicking team who recovers a muffed kick cannot advance it after recovering. After looking further at the replay, we can see that the original receiving team player who touched the ball was blocked into it, which is considered forced touching, and does not count as a touch, so the kicking team ends up keeping possession of the ball.
  • Fair-catch interference. On another punt play, the receiving team calls for a fair catch and muffs the kick. There were however flags on the play for fair catch interference, as kicking team got within 1 yard of the receiver and clearly impeded his ability to make the catch.
  • Horse-collar tackles. We see two plays that are potential horse collar tackles, but both were ruled legal. On the first one, we see the defender grab the nameplate, but not pull the runner down forcibly. On the second one, the player was forcibly pulled down by the nameplate, but the ball carrier was still in the tackle box, therefore the tackle is legal.
  • Fumbles on 4th down. A fourth down fumble that is recovered by the fumbling team can only be advanced if the fumbler recovers the ball himself. This play was a handoff, and the fumble occurred at the mesh point. A fumble here is always attributed to the player handing the ball off, so the recovery and advancement was legal because the proper player recovered.
  • Defenseless receiver. The offense throws a short pass over the middle of the field to a stationary receiver who is met with a hard hit to the head after turning slightly upfield. Shaw mentions that even though he turned up field, he is still considered defenseless because of how quick the hit came in. Even if the receiver was not considered defenseless, there was still forcible contact to the head of the player, and the defender led with the crown of his helmet.

Josh Cohn is a college student at Rochester Institute of Technology studying software engineering and creative writing. As a child, Josh would often officiate games between his friends and classmates during recess.