Why is the ball not dead on a fake field goal in college football?


Whenever an offense reaches the 4th down in American Football, i.e. they didn't achieve to get a new 1st down in their past 3 attempts, they're faced with basically 2 fundamentally different options. They can either play that down as a "normal" offensive play in order to reach a new 1st down, or they can either punt the ball or attempt a field goal, depending how far they are from the end zone.

The usual strategy is to settle for a punt or field goal, unless the situation is rather urgent (i.e. you can't risk giving your opponent the offense) and/or you're confident you can make a new 1st down. What I haven't ever seen in the NFL (although, I'm only following it rather actively for about 2 seasons) is a faked field goal attempt or punt and I wonder if this is even possible. What I mean is making the play look like a field goal/punt, i.e. putting the special team and kicker on the field, and then having the kicker actually run (or pass?) the ball instead, trying to make a...

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The strategic answer to the main question is: Field Position

Please see this article: https://www.football.com/en-us/charting-the-importance-of-field-position/

Basically, as you get farther away from the goal posts, the chances of successfully making the kick get lower and lower. As you can see in the linked article, as you get better and better starting field position, the chances of you scoring get higher and higher. Also a key factor here is that on a field goal, if you miss the field goal and the other team does not decide to return it, the other team gets the ball (their starting field position) on your previous line of scrimmage.

So putting all of those things together, it is a much smarter strategic move to give up on the chance for 3 points, given the possible negatives, but instead use a punt to "pin your opponent deep" and give them very bad starting field position (optimally at their own 10 yard line or less.) Their odds of scoring are lower, and...

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If the offense attempts a field goal before fourth down and misses, the ball is turned over to the defending team. Rule 11, Section 4, Article 2 of the NFL rulebook:

Missed Field Goals. If there is a missed field-goal attempt, and the ball has not been touched by the receivers beyond the line in the field of play, the following shall apply:

(a) If the spot of the kick was inside the receivers’ 20-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the 20-yard line or

(b) If the spot of the kick was from the receivers’ 20-yard line or beyond the receivers’ 20-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the spot of the kick.

Note: These options apply only if the ball has been beyond the line.

For the wording here, the receiving team is the defense (the team that is receiving the kick). If the kicker misses the field goal on first, second, or third down, the ball is turned over to the opposing team. The kicking team does not get additional attempts. This is why...

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A fake field goal is a trick play in American football. Simply, it involves a running or passing play done out of a kick formation. Usually the holder (often the punter or backup quarterback on most teams) will throw or run. Danny White was both quarterback and punter for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s and often executed this play. Less frequently, the placekicker, who virtually never handles the ball in an American football game, will serve as the passer or rusher on a fake field goal. Examples include then-New England kicker Adam Vinatieri receiving a direct snap and throwing a touchdown pass during an NFL game in 2004, and LSU kicker Colt David rushing for a 15-yard touchdown in 2007 after receiving the ball on a blind lateral from holder (and starting QB) Matt...

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To put Samuel Gilleran's answer in layman's terms, the key to a player being "down" isn't that he's on a knee, but that any part of his body above the knee is in contact with the ground while he is simultaneously in contact with an opposing player.

This creates a wierd loophole that can sometimes cause problems. Since a player is not automatically down without contact from the opposing team, he either has to declare himself down on the spot or tell the referee prior to the play that taking a knee should be interpreted as declaring himself down. This is a common practice among receivers in comeback scenarios, because it helps them save precious time on the clock to end the play as soon as possible after a catch, and also among quarterbacks when they slide on scrambles to avoid injury.

The problem occasionally comes when a ball carrier has previously issued such a blanket notice to the sideline official, but then finds himself stumbling on an important play and declared down...

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Expert: Vic Winnek - 9/30/2013


I read a response you made to Fake Field goals and the holder not being down by contact, however during Florida - Kentucky this past Saturday 9/28/13 I noticed the holder received the snap and actually grounded the ball simulating a hold, but then flipped the ball back to the kicker. Does the grounding of the ball in NCAA rules imply the ball is dead during a place kick or PAT? Again assuming the snap is not botched but received cleanly can you place the ball on the ground and then pull it up to run, lateral, or pass?


Manny good question - putting the ball on the ground doesn't make the play dead, the ball remains live. The rule is addressed in 4-1-3-b-exception. The key is the scrimmage kick formation with the kicker in place at the time of the snap. In 2011 there was an editorial change in the NCAA rules that make this play legal and the ball remains live.

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Running a fake field goal can be a smart move in the NFL if you catch the other team by surprise, or it can turn into a total disaster if you tip off the other team that the fake is coming, and that's exactly what the Ravens did against the Redskins on Sunday.

So how exactly do you tip off the other team and let them know you're running a fake field goal?

You line up your kicker in the wrong spot.

With just under five minutes left in the first half, the Ravens were facing fourth-and-12, so they decided to line up for what should've been an easy 35-yard field goal.

However, as soon as they lined up, it became pretty clear that the Ravens weren't going to be trying a field goal: Right-footed kicker Justin Tucker lined up as a left-footed kicker.

Seriously. The Ravens completely gave away their play.

Ravens fans were baffled by the call.

Worst fake field goal attempt I've seen...Justin Tucker's a righty and they line up...

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What makes a trick play memorable? Is it the circumstances surrounding it? The teams involved? The timing?

Whatever it may be, there have been plenty of trick plays over the years that stick with us. Here are some of the best in college football history.

Les Miles fake field goal- 2007 vs. South Carolina

Fake field goals have been a signature for Les Miles. It's hard to pick just one but the fake field goal pulled off against South Carolina is hard to beat. The Tigers were ahead, 14-7, and appeared ready to attempt a 32-yard field goal. When Matt Flynn received the snap, he flipped a no-look pass over his back to kicker Colt David who sprinted 15 yards into the end zone. LSU went on to win the BCS National Championship and it wouldn't be the last time Miles called for a fake. There's a reason he's called the Mad Hatter.

Nebraska's "Fumblerooski"- 1984 Orange Bowl

Many remember the 1984 Orange Bowl for Nebraska's 2-point conversion that would have...

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A week after the SEC showed quite a few warts with sluggish performances, Missouri opened Week 3 needing an interception on a fake field goal in the last minute to survive a threat from UConn.

The Huskies were driving while trailing 9-6 in the fourth quarter and had an opportunity to attempt a 42-yard field goal, but they bravely gambled to win instead of tie.

Anthony Sherrils picked it off to prevent the easy first down. Gary Pinkel said after the game they were set up for a fake just in case and it paid off.

It was an ugly game from the start. Missouri took the lead early on a safety after blocking a punt. UConn scored a touchdown soon after but the Tigers blocked the extra point to keep the score at 6-2. Mizzou doinked a field goal off the upright after that, preventing us from a glorious 6-5 score. Missouri even punted from the UConn 35-yard line in the fourth quarter.

In the end, the Tigers can claim the 9-6...

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Whenever an NFL kicker attempts a field goal from inside 50 yards these days, success seems inevitable.

That isn’t the case in college.

Just two weeks ago. Duke beat Pittsburgh 51-48 in overtime after Chris Blewitt missed a 26-yard field goal that would have won the game for the Panthers.

Utah’s Andy Phillips, considered one of college football’s top kickers, missed a 37-yard attempt in overtime as the Utes fell 19-16 to Arizona State that same day.

While NFL field-goal accuracy has gone from 81.3% in 2009 to 85.4 percent this season, according to STATS LLC, college kickers haven’t improved at a similar rate over the past five years.

Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) consoles Alabama Crimson Tide kicker Cade Foster (43) after a missed field goal during the fourth quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-136358 ORIG FILE ID: 20131130_ajl_su1_072.JPG "...
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Why is Football so popular?

Football is a very simple game. The game needs only one football and a pole or area that represents the goal. A small ground is sufficient for the play. The rules in the game are also not many to be followed. When any sports lover is asked about the most popular sport all over the world, they tend to say it as football. Though all the people do not probably say it as football, most of the people say it as football only. This is probably due to the simplicity of the game. The game needs only two minimum players and a ball to play. It can be played anywhere in the city. The game does not require much equipment or a big stadium for playing. An open space will do enough for playing football. The match can be arranged at a cheap cost.

There is no place in the world where football is not played at professional level. Only in United States the football is not that popular. In United States, the football is covered by the national game. Most of the...

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Blocking a field goal can change the course of a game. And since there are so many ways to block a field goal, there have to be rules that govern every variation. Some football rules are tricky and luckily the NCAA has it covered.

The long snapper or snapper is the player who hikes the ball to the holder, who then holds the ball for the kicker to attempt the field goal. The snapper is usually in the middle of the line. According to NCAA rules, the side trying to block the kick attempt cannot contact the snapper for at least one second after he snaps the ball. The only exception is if the snapper initiates or starts the contact with the defense. This rule is to prevent the defense from bowling over the snapper as he moves the ball and getting an easy blocked kick.

According to NCAA rules, when a team tries a field goal, no player on the defense can run into or rough the holder or kicker during the play....

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Arkansas State's failed fake punt against Miami on Saturday, which featured a player pretending to faint in the middle of the play, is one of the strangest plays we've ever seen in a football game.

But it turns out that there's a logical explanation for it.

Coach Blake Anderson spoke to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com on Tuesday and said his team had been practicing the play all week. He explained that wide receiver Booker Mays played dead to ensure that he wouldn't drift over the line of scrimmage and draw a penalty for illegal man downfield.

Anderson said:

"Because of the formation we were in for that fake punt, Booker was covered up and couldn't go downfield, or it would be a penalty. So we said, 'What do we want to do with him? Do we want to bubble him or peel him out?' Someone said let's just let him be a fainting goat. I loved it, so we just put that in. His job on that play was basically to not get a...

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Some days, you need a game you can reach out and touch. You need a game where there are people standing patiently outside the gates of a small stadium, blankets folded over their arms, waiting for someone to open a ticket booth the size of a upright footlocker on which a sign hangs that says, "Children Under Five Admitted Free."

Some days, you need a game where they're selling hot dogs, and hamburgers, and bratwurst, and you have to pay for them under the stands and then come back because, as another sign says, "Your bun is your ticket." Some days, you need a game where the women's basketball team is selling soda and cookies to support itself. Some days, you need ragged pep bands, seemingly formed by like-minded strangers on the sidewalk outside who just happened to bring drums and a tuba to the game.

Some days, you need a little, low-ceilinged press box where everyone is jammed in, including the coaches from the visiting team, so you can hear them...

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Expert: Vic Winnek - 9/14/2006


Does the same rule apply to a "muffed" snap on a field goal try when there is no "offensive player kick(ing) or simulat(ing) kicking the ball for a place kick"?

For example, if the holder is set up to catch the snap (let's assume a right-footed kicker) and has to extend his whole body to his left to catch a bad snap resulting in both knees on the ground as he catches it. The kicker really has no chance to "kick or simulate a kick," so is the ball then considered "down."?

Thanks, Vic.


Followup To

Question -

In college, where the offensive player is considered "down" once his knee touches the ground withh or withour contact from the defense, why do we see fake field goals where the holder receives the snap with his knee clearly on the ground and then proceeds to run and/or pass.

Why isn't he ruled down on the spot where he received the...

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Dead ball is a term in many ball sports in which the ball is deemed temporarily not playable, and no movement may be made with it or the players from their respective positions of significance. Depending on the sport, this event may be quite routine, and often occurs between individual plays of the game.

In gridiron football, a dead ball is a condition that occurs between football plays, after one of the following has occurred:

The player with the ball runs out of bounds The player with the ball is downed, either by being tackled to the ground or by deliberately downing him/herself ("taking a knee") A pass touches the ground or travels out of bounds without being caught (incomplete pass) A punt or kickoff travels out of bounds

The ball remains dead until it is snapped to begin the next play. During the time in which the ball is dead, the offensive team may not attempt to advance it and no change of possession can take place. The clock may or may not be stopped...

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American College Football Rules Questions & Answers

If you are new to American Football and have a question about the rules, send your question to dwilson@engr.wisc.edu. [I'm just a fan: I've never played the game.] For an introduction to the rules, click here. For advanced questions, see Curt Johnson's Answers for Coaches or join the NCAA rules discussion group.

To find an answer, use "Find in Page..." on the Edit menu to look for a key word.

Question: How do you tell who is on offense and defense?

Answer: One of the players (the center on the offense) puts his hands on the ball before the play starts. When the play starts, the center snaps the ball back between his legs to the quarterback. Players wearing the same uniform as the center and quarterback are on offense; players wearing the other uniforms are on defense.

Question: What is the difference between tackle and touch football?

Answer: In touch football, the ball carrier has to stop once...

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Expert: Vic Winnek - 10/5/2007



the Play is from LSU - South Carolina.

Fake FG from LSU. Scores TD from Colt David.

Why was the Holder not down by contact?

Ball in Possession + knee down.



Thank you for your question Why is a Holder not down by contact when the Ball in Possession + knee down...?

The reason is because of NCAA Football Rule 4-1-3(b, exception). This rule creates the exception to the ball being declared dead when a player's knee is down touching the ground. The exception applies only to the HOLDER when an offensive player kicks or simulates kicking the ball for a place kick (Field Goal). By rule the ball may be advanced, kicked or passed.

In college football the holder may place his knee on the ground and the ball is not declared dead. The rationale for this exception is because the holder is a position that holds the ball for a place kick. After receiving the snap it...

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No. By NFL Rule 7, Section 2:

Article 1: Dead Ball Declared. An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended when:


(h) when any legal or illegal kick touches the receivers' goal posts or crossbar, unless it scores a field goal

This includes field goals, kickoffs, and punts.

The NCAA first considers the goal posts to be out of bounds (Rule 1, Section 2, Article 5.a), then makes an exception for the case when a kick hits them and bounces through (Rule 4, Section 1):

ARTICLE 3. A live ball becomes dead and an official shall sound his whistle or declare it dead:

a. When it goes out of bounds other than a kick that scores a field goal after touching the uprights or crossbar [...]

This is not the case in arena football, though. Arena football has such a small field that it is necessary to consider the uprights and the surrounding netting as inbounds, or else no kick would ever be returnable. From the Arena...

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In American football and Canadian football, the holder is the player who receives the snap from the long snapper during field goal or extra point attempts made by the placekicker. The holder is set on one knee 5 yards behind the line-of-scrimmage. Before the play begins he places the hand which is closest to the place kicker on the ground in a location designated by the kickers foot (In high school games, the holder/kicker combo is responsible for a kicking block, which lifts the ball off the turf), with his forward hand ready to receive the snap. After receiving the snap, the holder will place the football on the turf, or block, ideally with the laces facing the uprights and the ball accurately placed where the back hand was initially, then balancing the ball with one or two fingers until the ball is kicked.

The holder, like the placekicker and the long snapper, is protected from intentional contact from the opposing team. The penalty for roughing the holder is 15 yards and...

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American Football Rules Answers for Coaches If you are a football coach or player (any level) and have a question about the rules, send your question to Curt Johnson at cmajohnson AT charter DOT net. Curt Johnson is a high school and college football official. Please specify NCAA (college) or NFHS (high school) rules in your question. This site also has an introduction to the rules and answers for fans.

Question: Can a cornerback grab a receiver by the jersey with his hands as they are coming off the line of scrimmage? How far downfield can the cornerback run with the receiver doing this?

Answer: No, the cornerback may not grab a receiver--that is holding (10 yard penalty, and under NCAA rules automatic 1st down if a forward pass is thrown). A defender may contact a reciever at the line of scrimmage, but only with a legal blocking technique. And he may continue to block him all the way down the field until the ball is thrown. But when the reciever gets to the same yardline...

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