Question on Hands to the Face

Submitted by mvp on January 4th, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I have a rules question for the experts out there:

With Michigan up 17-9 in the 4th quarter, and VT driving, Logan had that run to the left on 4th and 11 (or 4th and 13).  What is the rule about hands to the face on blocks?  

Kovacs is trying to shed a block and make a tackle, and the blocker puts his hand on Kovacs' facemask and pushes up.  Kovacs knocks it away only to have the blocker push the facemask AGAIN making it so that Kovacs likely couldn't even see.

I know that with a stiff-arm the ballcarrier gets a lot of leeway with hands to the opponent's face, but should a blocker have the same leeway?  This would have been a crucial missed call on a crucial drive if Michigan hadn't pulled it out.



January 4th, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

i was screaming for that call. it was blatant in the open field. unless there's some exception to the rule i'm not aware of for downfield blocking or something, that should have been illegal hands to the face.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

My understanding of it is that, as long as he is set for >1 second, it's perfectly legal.  I'm also pretty sure he does that on every kick.  I may be wrong here, but I've heard that from a few different people on MGoBlog and someone brought it up on the radio this morning (can't remember which show)


Per the NCAA Football Rule Book, Rule 7, Section 1, Article 2.a

"After a huddle (Rule 2-14-1) or shift (Rule 2-22-1)
and before the snap, all Team A players must come to an absolute stop and
remain stationary in their positions for at least one full second before the ball
is snapped, without movement of the feet, body, head or arms (A.R. 7-1-2-I)."

So he was good to go.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:30 PM ^

I'm not 100% about the rule, but if the block is engaged and the hands move to the face from the pads, there is some leeway. It can't be egregious, but there is some leeway. Just like if you're a blocker and you've engaged in a block on a defender and the defender turns so their back is facing you, you can still block them. 


January 4th, 2012 at 12:31 PM ^

That stood out to me as well his helmet was almost taken completely off. That play plus the tackle of Jr as the ball was in mid air were two blown calls by the refs IMO.

Mr. Yost

January 4th, 2012 at 12:32 PM ^

The refs struggled last night except with all of the reviews (which they got them all right).


That was a HORRIBLE non call of illegal use of the hands to the face AND Gibbons should've been called for a false start...TWICE!

Mr. Yost

January 4th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

but...that wasn't a second between the "plant" and the snap. You can move forward as long as you're set for at least one whole second before the snap. Gibbons wasn't, he may have been the first time, I've only seen it twice, but I think he was off even then.

These weren't the only horribly blown calls though. The reason they were blocking so well on the end was because they were HOLDING! Don't get me wrong, they threw some great blocks, but there were some that were just like COME-ON!

Also they had a long kick return that had not one, but TWO blocks in the back.

No one talks about these, but the fact is, they helped change the game just as much as a questionable (not in my mind) touchdown and a non-call on a couple FG's.


January 4th, 2012 at 1:12 PM ^

I have noticed all year with many teams that when they send someone in motion or have players shifting they don't seem to get set for a full second. In fact in watching these bowl games it seems there have been times two players have been in motion at the same time at the time of the snap. I was just having this conversation during monday's games.


January 4th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

Northwestern is probably the example that sticks out most for me. The receivers were repeatly in motion and not set when the ball was snapped. I think 1 sec is more of a guideline, seems like if you pause at all, you're not going to get flagged (unless you're a linemen)

Mr. Yost

January 4th, 2012 at 3:47 PM ^

...not moving forward.

If you're moving forward, you have to be set for a second before the ball is snapped.

For example I've seen WRs get false start penalties because they're lined up off the line, then then try to move up a yard or so to get on the line and the ball is snapped too quickly.


January 4th, 2012 at 2:47 PM ^

Illegal motion has a few components if I remember correctly:
<br>1 offense must be set for 1 sec prior to snap
<br>2 only one man can go in motion at a time
<br>3 motion can only be along the line of scrimmage, you cannot go in motion towards the line (ie WRs can't get a head start like in arena league)
<br>People are focussing on #2 but I think #3 is the bigger issue. Gibbons was movin towards the line of scrimmage


January 4th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

Actually multiple men can be in motion, but only 1 can be in motion at the snap of the ball. So multiple guys can motion, but then all (but 1) must "re-set" before the snap. So 2 Tight Ends can shift the strength of the formation at the same time... but only 1 man can be in motion at the snap (Like a Jet Sweep, we ran this with Odoms a few times last night, but the motion/snap timing was off).

I don't think we ran a lot of multiple-man-motions this year, but the Bears did it a lot, Martz loves to do it (hurray that he's gone!). Pretty much you line up in 1 formation, then everyone shifts into a totally different one. Like you're 2 tight ends, 2 backs, then everyone flexes out to a shotgun 1 back set. As long as they reset, you're legal.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

 I saw the play and I thought it was penalty that went uncalled. If it was an O lineman blocking like that it wold have been called illegal hands to the face. I'm look at the wikipedia definition and it says offensive player only but then give a yardage for if it's an offensive or defensive player. it should have been a penalty tho but was not called by the ref or discussed by the commentators.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:41 PM ^

 5 yard penalty for a false start would just mean a 42 yard field goal attempt ( which would not have needed if the illegal hands to face was called). The illegal hands to the face was on a 4th and 11 and I don't think they would have went for a 4th and 21 , but hey i did'nt think they would go for a 4th and 11 either. The drive also ended in a VT Touchdown.

All in all it doesn't matter we won , but it is something to throw up if folks bring up the catch/non catch OT call


January 4th, 2012 at 12:37 PM ^

What about the reverse when Denard blocked the defensive lineman? Denard had his helmet knocked off by the lineman, I thought that should've been a penalty as well. Thoughts? You may have been blinded by Denard's smile and missed it, but look at the tape...


January 4th, 2012 at 12:41 PM ^

My family was talking about that one, too, but I dont' think it was a penalty.  Denard threw a block and chose not to go low.  The helmets hit and the more massive player knocked the helmet of the less massive player.  I don't think it was a shot at Denard.


January 4th, 2012 at 3:13 PM ^

I know, that part was more in response to what mvp wrote. Tried to kill two birds with one stone.

But I still disagree that the lineman accidentally knocked Denard's helmet off. I haven't seen a clip of the play since last night, but on the replay last night it looked like the lineman pretty intentionally went for Denard's head.

Picktown GoBlue

January 4th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

9-1-2-k: No player shall continuously contact an opponent'l helmet (including the facemask) with hand(s) or arm(s) (Exception: By or against the runner)

By that rule the runner is allowed to contact an opponent's facemask and the opponent can also contact his facemask as long as the facemask isn't grabbed. Hands flat on the mask is allowed by or against the runner.

A foul can be called if the player is striking the facemask:

9-1-2-a: No person subject to the rules shall strike an opponent with the knee; strike an opponent's helmet (including the face mask), neck, face or any other part of the body with an extended forearm, elbow, locked hands, palm, fist, or the heel, back or side of the open hand; or gouge an opponent.

discussion was here.

Johnny Blood

January 4th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

They could have called a ton more penalties on VT -- they were extremely aggressive throughout covering our WR (even the announcers at the beginning of the game said something to the effect that they probably shouldn't have worn orange gloves if they were going to hold the WR) and holding both at the line and on the outside when on offense... and they kept doing it because the refs kept ignoring it.

But Michigan fought through it and won.  And that's why, despite this being a pretty ugly win, it is also really sweet.


January 4th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

Yeah it was a pretty clear penalty, but the refs were missing holds and other calls all night long.  Trip and flip Junior 10 yards past the line of scrimmage?  No problem.  Lightly tug Gallon down by his back jersey (but with great embellishment)?  Pass interference!

It was a wacky game, but I really think it probably evened out, as VT got away with some massive holding on Martin and Van Bergen as well.


January 4th, 2012 at 2:23 PM ^

Honestly, the officiating was mediocre last night, but it was crappy both ways.  We complain about holding, but UM was just as guilty.  It happens.  The hands-to-the-face could have been called, but it also seemed somewhat incidental and somewhat the product of Kovacs being on the shorter side. 


Smash Lampjaw

January 4th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

What I thought I learned at the Northwestern game was that action stops when a helmet comes off. The rule must be more nuanced than that, because there were at least a couple of instances last night where play extended for a long while after I saw a helmet flying. Or maybe the Norwestern call was not legit.


January 4th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^

players on one of Thomas's big pass plays.  The TV cameras focused on it just before Thomas released the ball, and both the VT players had their arms fully extended with their hands on his jersey.

Mr. Yost

January 4th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

Once again, the refs were bad BOTH ways...

When Hemingway got body checked to the ground was a penalty.

And on the crazy ass "fake" FG...when Gibbons went to block, he pulled the Va Tech players to the ground. And may have done so by his helmet...either or, it's a penalty. However you should never get body slammed by a kicker so I see why they didn't call it.

Mr. Yost

January 4th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

Once again, the refs were bad BOTH ways...

When Hemingway got body checked to the ground was a penalty.

And on the crazy ass "fake" FG...when Gibbons went to block, he pulled the Va Tech players to the ground. And may have done so by his helmet...either or, it's a penalty. However you should never get body slammed by a kicker so I see why they didn't call it.