However, this year will be a little different when it comes to the college football scene as the NCAA introduced some changes for this upcoming season. "All other aspects of the kickoff play will remain the same", the NCAA said in a statement. According to the NCAA, fewer injuries occur on kickoffs that result in touchbacks than kickoffs that are returned.
This rule change was likely motivated by teams adjusting to the previous rule change of placing touchbacks at the 25 instead of the 20-yard line.
Under the new rule, any kickoff that is fair-caught inside of the 25-yard line is considered a touchback and will automatically be brought to the 25-yard line. Receiving teams will be allowed to fair catch any kick inside the 25-yard line and have it result in a touchback.
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The rule is the latest attempt to ensure the safety of players on kickoff returns, which tend to be among the most violent plays in the game. Offensive players will not be allowed to block below the waist more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, all blocks below the waist except by interior linemen must be head-on, and a 10-second runoff will occur when instant replay overturns a call inside the final minute of a half on a play in which the clock would not have been stopped.
Other changes approved include a package of rules regarding blocking below the waist.
Following a touchdown and a kickoff, the play clock will start at the 40-second mark in an effort to speed up the game. Additionally, following a kickoff, the play clock will be set to 40 seconds to restart play more quickly. "These changes will not take plays out of the game, but will positively impact the flow of the game". For example, officials involved in the replay process could be located in a conference office.
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Leaping rules on field goals and extra points will mirror those on punting plays.
-Any 15-yard penalty on made field goals can be enforced on the kickoff. It is illegal to leap over the frame of an opponent's body.
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