Oklahoma mailbag: How will the new kickoff impact the Sooners?
DieHards tackles the best questions from Oklahoma fans. Look for our Oklahoma question of the day Monday through Friday. Join the conversation by sending your questions to @john_shinn, by email to John at email@example.com or at the Oklahoma DieHards Facebook page.
Geoff Fellows asks: ‘How will the new kickoff rule impact Oklahoma?’
I asked special teams coordinator Jay Boulware about this after the NFL announced its rule change and before the NCAA decided to follow suit.
“If somebody comes in and says we’re getting rid of this, then we’re going to play by whatever rules they put in there,” he said. “I don’t have any feeling strongly one way or the other about having it be a part of it. I do know this: it’s a part of the game and as long as it’s the same at the next level, then we need to develop our kids to be able to do it. So that’s the only thing.”
In a nutshell, the kickoff rule change means any kickoff can be fair caught and the receiving team gets the ball at the 25-yard line. I haven’t done a poll of coaches throughout college football, but it’s a safe bet the majority of kickoffs will end with a fair catch this season.
If that’s the case, that should help the Sooners. They’ve tended to struggle with their coverage units over the years.
What I don’t know is if means kickoff receiving units will receive less emphasis. I expect coverage units will get the same strictly out of precaution.
I actually think the rule change affects the NFL more than college football. So many players make rosters because of special teams. The rule change will impact things like how many receivers a team suits up vs. offensive linemen and things of that nature. College football doesn’t have the numbers issue.
The best hope is the rule change does result in fewer injuries. But once something is done in the name of safety, there’s little chance of it changing back.