HOOVER — Kickoffs will change this year in college football in at least a couple of major ways, according to Southeastern Conference supervisor of officials Steve Shaw.
Kickoffs will be moved up from the 30-yard line to the 35. Also, touchbacks will come out to the 25 instead of the 20.
Shaw said it's a move based on player safety.
"There will be more touchbacks, which means less collisions and less injuries," Shaw said this morning at SEC Media Days. "It's interesting to see how this works out. It's easier to get a touchback, but coaches with good kickers might try more skykicks or other things."
Also, a common strategy involving onside kicks will be taken away. Often, a kicker would drive the point of the ball into the ground, forcing it to bounce high and after it moves forward the required 10 yards, the kicking team scrambles to recover it.
Shaw said that now if an onside kick takes that big bounce, the receiving team will have the opportunity to catch the ball without interference. Again, it's a move to protect players.
"Coaches say this rule change will take that one-hop kick out of the game," Shaw said.
In another player-safety move, players whose helmets come off during a play will face greater restrictions. Shaw said that if your helmet comes off and it's not the result of a foul, you have to leave the game for a play.
"Playing time is most precious commodity to players, and maybe this will be incentive to fit their helmets properly," Shaw said.
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