INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (CBSMiami) – The NCAA announced Friday a few rule changes for the upcoming college football season that could fundamentally alter how coaches approach kickoffs and touchbacks.
The NCAA will move kickoffs to the 35-yard line instead of at the 30-yard line. In addition, players on the kicking team can’t line up further back than five yards from the line of scrimmage on kickoffs.
This rule was instituted to prevent players from getting a large running start heading downfield.
Additionally, the NCAA has decided to move touchbacks to the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line. The new rule will only apply to free kicks.
All other touchbacks, like punts that go into the end zone or fumbles out of the end zone, will stay at the 20-yard line.
The rules were changed to promote player safety on kickoffs and returns due to studies the NCAA conducted that said more injuries occur on kickoffs than almost any other plays.
One other rule that could give coaches headaches deals with helmets. A new rule has been instituted that states that if a player loses his helmet, other than as the result of an opponent penalty, it will be treated like an injury and the player has to leave the game for at least one play.
The rule may cause some problems for a few players, but if the helmets are fit properly and buckled on properly, they should not come off. Needless to say, equipment managers will be scrutinized if a team loses a game due to this rule.