KSU coach, kicker weigh in on kickoff rule change

Jonas Fortune

Arguably the most exciting play in football is the kickoff.

Eleven men barrel down a 100-yard field at break-neck speeds with their eyes and shoulder pads fixated on one person. The receiver must patiently wait for the ball, successfully catch it and run toward those rabid defenders who want nothing more than to take his head off.

Violent? Yes. Entertaining? Apparently not enough for the NCAA.

In an attempt to improve the flow and excitement of the game, NCAA Football Rules Committee moved the kickoff back five yards – from the 35-yard line to the 30. Now at the same spot as the NFL, the rule looks to allow for fewer touchbacks and more touchdowns throughout the college game. But will it instead deliver more


“The injury thing is something we are going to need to monitor during the season because that could very well be the case,” Kent State football coach Doug Martin said. “That’s the most violent play in football.

“You’re talking about a 60-yard head start before the collision takes place, so that could happen.”

But despite the risk, Martin said the rule change will do just what the NCAA wants and give more excitement to the game. There will be more chances for returns, but Martin never bothered to bring up touchdowns. Like a true coach, he sees the change as yet another strategy to use throughout the game.

“I think where you’re going to see the major change is at the coin toss,” he said. “Usually head coaches defer to the second half. I think now you’re going to see a lot more people take the ball – because if you can return it to the 30-35 yard line, get two first downs and punt, you’re going to have the other team backed up. So it’s really going to help you win the field position game.”

And one of the key pieces to get better field position this year will be sophomore kicker Nate Reed, who said the rule doesn’t offer that much of a difference outside of fewer touchbacks.

Yet Reed still seemed excited about the change.

“It’s going to be an exciting play because it will be interesting to see how many kickers can kick it down to the endzone now,” he said.

Contact sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].