College: 9-1-9

SECTION 1. Personal Fouls

Roughing the Passer


a. No defensive player shall unnecessarily rough a passer, when it is obvious the ball has been thrown. The following actions are illegal, but not limited to:

1. Targeting fouls as noted in Rules 9-1-3 and 9-1-4.

2. Forcible contact to the head or neck area that does not meet the requirements of Rule 9-1-4 (also reference Rule 9-1-2).

3. Forcible contact that is avoidable after it is obvious the ball has left the passer’s hand. (Exception: A defensive player who is blocked by a Team A player[s] with a force so that they have no opportunity to avoid contact with the passer. However, this does not relieve the defensive player of responsibility for personal fouls as described in elsewhere in this section.).

4. Forcibly driving the passer to the ground and landing on the passer with action that punishes the player.

5. Any action that is a personal foul as described elsewhere in this section.

b. When an offensive player is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground, no defensive player rushing unabated shall hit the player forcibly at the knee area or below. The defensive player also may not initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit this opponent in the knee area or below. [Exceptions: (1) It is not a foul if the offensive player is a runner not in a passing posture, either inside or outside the tackle box. (2) It is not a foul if the defender grabs or wraps this opponent in an attempt to make a conventional tackle without making forcible contact with the head or shoulder. (3) It is not a foul if the defender is not rushing unabated or is blocked or fouled into this opponent.]

For paragraphs a and b, the penalty is added to the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down. 

Approved Ruling 9-1-9 I. After passer A17 releases the ball, B68 takes two strides and charges into A17, showing no attempt to avoid contact. RULING: Roughing the passer. The passer is a defenseless player who is vulnerable to injury and must be fully protected. After taking two strides, B68 should be aware that A17 has released the ball and be able to avoid contacting him.

Approved Ruling 9-1-9 II. Quarterback A11 drops back in the pocket and sets up to pass. Just as he releases the ball he is hit by end B88 who drives his shoulder into A11’s knee. The pass is (a) incomplete; (b) caught by A44 who is tackled after a 12-yard gain to the B-40. RULING: Foul by B88 for forcibly hitting the passer at the knee or below, in violation of Rule 9-1-9b. Automatic first down and 15-yard penalty enforced at (a) the previous spot; (b) at the B-40, the end of the run by A44.

Approved Ruling 9-1-9 III. Quarterback A11 drops back in the pocket and sets up to pass. He then scrambles to his right, sets up again and is in the passing posture when he is hit by end B88 who drives his shoulder into A11’s knee. A11 then pulls the ball in and goes to the ground because of being tackled by B88. RULING: Foul by B88, violation of Rule 9-1-9b. While A11 is technically not a passer because he did not release the ball, the action by B88 is a foul under 9-1-9b because of the vulnerability of A11 as a potential passer in a passing posture.