By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
HOOVER, Ala. – Citing safety concerns as the primary reasons, a number of rules changes have been implemented for the 2012 season regarding kickoffs. That was one of the central topics that Southeastern Conference Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw discussed on Wednesday morning, on the second day of the SEC Media Days.
“As we compile statistics, that’s a play that has a higher level of potential injury in it than a regular scrimmage down,” Shaw said. “There’s going to be work around making the kickoff safer.
For the 2012 season, the kickoff line has moved from the 30 yard line to the 35 yard line. A touchback will now begin at the 25 yard line instead of the 20.
“The rule maker’s intent there is that the more touchbacks, the less collisions and the less injuries,” Shaw said. “If as a receiver you catch the ball and take a touchback, we’re going to take it to the 25. There’s kind of an added incentive in there for you to take a touchback.”
Shaw said many of the league’s coaches began tinkering with how the new rules would affect their approach in the 2012 season during this past spring campaign.
“It will be interesting to see how this one plays out because it’s easier to get a touchback now with five more yards to start from,” Shaw said. “The flipside of that is that some special teams coaches with good kickers may try to sky kick and pin them deep. The rules committee is very interested to watch.”
There will also be a change with regard to onside kicks that provides greater protection on the kickoff reception, Shaw noted.
“Now, if a kicker drives the ball straight into the ground, one hop, the receiving team is afforded the protection to catch that hop just like it was an airborne kick. They will not be allowed to make contact; that will be kick-catch interference. That will take the one-hop kick out of the game as far as onside kicks. That will be a note to watch as we go through the season.”