Georgia Tech’s kickoff coverage may improve without the addition of a single player. The NCAA football rules committee proposed moving the kickoff to the 35-yard line from the 30. The Jackets recorded eight touchbacks on 80 kickoffs last season and allowed 21.6 yards per return. Tech’s kickoff net was 41.9 yards, meaning opponents had an average starting spot on its 28-yard line. The Jackets’ return net was 45.4, or an average start on the 24. Tech opponents had 16 touchbacks on 61 kickoffs.
There’s a few other proposed tweaks with player safety on kickoffs in mind. A touchback would give the return team the ball on the 25-yard line, not the 20, as an incentive to take the touchback.
Given the difficulties Tech had with both the return and cover teams last season, I’m guessing this would be a proposal coach Paul Johnson would favor. It would, however, hinder the Jackets’ attempts at their first kickoff return for a touchdown since 1998 (Dez White vs. Maryland).
Also, the kicking team would have to line up for the kickoff less than five yards from the kickoff spot to prevent players from gaining speed and to reduce impact of collisions.
There’s also a proposed rule about blocking below the waist that won’t appear to affect Tech’s cut blocking. It’s a slight change on the rules changes last year regarding blocking below the waist, which also didn’t affect Tech’s blocking schemes.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog