Posted by Tom Fornelli
The NCAA adopted rule changes on kickoffs for the 2012 season with the hope of reducing injuries, but not everybody thinks that will be the case. Colorado head coach Jon Embree can see a situation where the new rules may lead to even more injuries on kickoffs than before.
The new rule has kickoffs coming from the 35-yard line rather than the 30, in hopes that more kicks will go through the end zone and lead to a touchback. Coverage teams will only be allowed a 5-yard head start in 2012 as well. Rules that, theoretically, should reduce injuries.
However, it's the fact that touchbacks on kickoffs have been moved from the 20-yard line to the 25 that Embree believes may lead to trouble. He told the Daily Camera that it will lead to coaches kicking short on purpose.
"I think you high pooch it and cover it," Embree said. "What I think will happen is if you get effective at that, you're putting the other team even more at risk than what the rule intended because unless he fair catches it, he can really take a shot because everyone is closer obviously.
"It will be interesting to see how that plays out. If you get a guy who can kick it to the 7-yard line every time, you can mishandle it and then you will have collisions. It will be interesting to see if they tweak this rule over time. The returner has to have good judgment and a good feel. You're never used to fair catching kickoffs, even though that is something you can do. There are a lot of timing issues that go into a kickoff return that now you're going to have to figure out as a return guy."
It will be interesting to see if Embree's theory is right this fall, and whether or not coaches will adapt to the rule as he suggests they will, or if they prefer booting the ball through the end zone and taking the risk of a touchdown return out of play.
Whatever the new kickoff rules lead to, we won't know for sure until, well, kickoff.
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