First, kickoffs are now at the 35-yard line instead of the 30. Additionally, touchbacks have been moved forward to the 25-yard line, not the 20.
The yardage change allows for more touchbacks, which means fewer players will be hit during kickoffs.
IU Co-Defensive Coordinator Doug Mallory said this rule would impact the kickoff game.
“Moving it up five yards, you are not going to see as many returns,” he said. “It seems like it’s going to take a little away from the kickoff game.”
Second, when a player’s helmet comes off during the game, he must step off the field for the following play.
The player can stay on the field if it happened because of a flag against the other team, such as a facemask.
There have been mixed reactions to this rule, with some in support of the change for player safety and others, like senior defensive tackle Larry Black Jr., realizing this could result in an important player’s removal during a crucial play in the game.
“The helmet one is going to cause a lot of stirs,” Black said. “The helmet just comes off when you are going hard. If it comes off and on the ground, then you have to come out a play, and you could miss a key offensive or defensive player.”
College football players have seen this rule in action during its first week of play.
Northwestern junior quarterback Kain Colter’s helmet came off in a play during the fourth quarter against Syracuse.
“I was just watching a little of the Syracuse-Northwestern game, and here they are in second down, and a kid gets his helmet knocked off, and he has to come out,” Mallory said. “Well, then you put in the backup quarterback for a critical situation. So, kids just have to strap their helmets on better.”
Safety is a factor in the Big Ten Conference, as it is one of the toughest in the country, senior defensive tackle Adam Replogle said.
“The Big Ten is known for physical play, and I don’t think anything is
going to change,” he said.
Low blocking is now allowed only for linemen within seven yards of the snapper and for defensive backs in the tackle box.
“Low blocks have always been an emphasis,” Mallory said. “Anything for the safety of the game and the safety of the players, I’m in total agreement, just ’cause you are always trying to eliminate injuries.”
Both Black and Replogle said these rules are being implemented in practice. This way, issues such as a helmet flying off are less likely to occur during games.
“If a helmet comes off during practice, you are out for a play,” Black Jr. said. “We were doing that all camp, so it’s normal to us now.”
These rules are for the players’ benefit to keep then uninjured and able to play football for a long time, Black said.
“If it’s anything to keep the players safe, I’m all for it,” he said. “It’s a very
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