The new rule requiring the kicking team to kick off at the 30 yard line is all the rage in reporting these days. It seems like nobody can really decide how it is going to affect the college game. Some coaches are taking it real seriously, like Urban Meyer, Les Miles and Phillip Fulmer. Others, like Ed Orgeron of Ole Miss just doesn't think it will make that much difference.
We have mentioned this before at A Sea of Blue, and calculated that it will probably help us more than some other teams due to our highly effective kick returners. But there are some other ramifications that may crop up that aren't so encouraging.
Some coaches think that it may be necessary to play more starters on the kickoff team to prevent a big return. Not only does this fatigue them even more, but also subjects them to the potential for more injuries. the kickoff is the only time when players get a up to a completely full head of steam, and some of the biggest hits in football history have come during a kick return.
Another thing that often happens on kickoff returns when players get out of position are clips and illegal blocks to the back. These plays are illegal for a reason, and one of the biggest one is that hitting a player low from behind is a great way to end his season. Can we expect to see more of this in the scramble to prevent a big return?
The better field position as a result of this change will also affect the defense. There will very likely be more scoring and fewer long drives. The long, sustained drive is the classic mechanism for tiring out defensive players, and a couple of long drives in one half can really change the game. We should see less of those, and therefore possibly fresher defenses, so maybe there is a built-in offset to the better field position.
I throw the floor open for discussion at this point.
Thanks to Old School Nasty for listing us as their featured blog today in their excellent look at UK's football schedule. If you haven't found OSN yet, go there and have a look. He isn't too kind to the Cats chances this year, though ...