SE: Safety a Point of Emphasis in 2012

Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Sean Snyder says teams will have a couple different options on kickoffs this year

Aug. 27, 2012

By Mark Janssen

Warning: Do not hoot and holler Saturday when the officials put the ball down at the 35-yard line for the opening kickoff. And, do not scream and shout after a kickoff is belted into the end zone for a touchback and the ball is spotted at the 25-yard line.

As they normally are, those in black and white stripes will be right as there have been adjustments made to the kickoff and kickoff return rules for the 2012 season in an effort to eliminate injuries from high-speed collisions on returns.

“Teams are going to have the choice of kicking it out of the end zone and giving the team the ball at the 25 or trying to hang the kickoff high in hopes of having it come down at about the five-yard line and doing a good job with their coverage,” said K-State associate head coach/special teams coordinator Sean Snyder. “It’s probably viewed as a good rule by kickoff teams and a bad rule for kickoff-return teams.”

While saying he understands how the rule is designed to reduce the number of injuries, and in particular head injuries, Snyder said, “It’s also going to eliminate one of the most exciting plays in the game, which is the kickoff return.”

In addition, another safety adjustment will come on onside kicks that are driven into the ground and bound high into the air.

While the receiving player could have been hit a year ago, this season the receiving player on such an onside kick will be given the same protection as a punt returner.

“We’re trying to make the game as safe as we possibly can,” said Walt Anderson, who serves as Supervisor of Officials for the Big 12 Conference. “You’re going to see onside kicks, but I think you’re going to see more of them that dance and take funny bounces on the turf as opposed to the type that are almost pooch kicks. The new rule will have potential player receiving the kick being given the protection of not having to worry about being blocked.”

HELMET RULE: If the helmet of a player comes off during a play, that player cannot take part in the rest of the play. In other words, if a defensive player’s helmet comes off during a play, he cannot go chase the ball carrier down. If he does, its’ a 15-yard personal foul on the defense. If the helmet of a player comes off during a normal play, that player must also come out of the game for one play. This point of emphasis is being made due to the increasing number of concussions. One exception to the rule is if an opposing player grabs the helmet of a player and the helmet comes off, the player does not have to come out of the game.

FALSE START: A point of emphasis this year will come in shotgun formations when the center is looking between his legs makes an abrupt movement of his head as if to simulate the start of a play to make the defense jump off sides.
“This has always been a false start, but seldom called,” said Anderson. “This year it will be a point of emphasis. You may see a warning early in the game, but while always a false start, this will be a point of emphasis in 2012. Any popping up of the head in an abrupt manner by the center, or any member of the offensive line, will be a false start.”

HALO RULE: The new “halo” rule on receiving punts and kickoffs is now only a one-yard allowance, which is a reduction from past years when a two-yard halo was allowed.

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