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Leaping like Zach Cunningham did here vs Florida will be no longer thanks to NCAA rule changes kicking in this season in college football

College Football Rules

in Rule Differences

Following on from our weekly introduction to the key rule differences between the amateur and professional versions of American football, which you can find here, a new season traditionally brings with it changes to the framework that governs the sport.

We introduce you to the key amendments ahead of the opening week of the season.

Leaping/Hurdling on Special Teams Plays
A source of not only great entertainment with game-changing impact, but athletic and anticipatory instinctive ability has controversially been outlawed by the NCAA governing body this season. Citing ‘player safety’, as the key motivation behind the ammendment, special team defenders will no longer be able to hurdle the line of scrimmage at the snap in a bid to reduce risk of injury. An exciting element of special teams sadly bites the dust in a sport continually evolving. We certainly will miss great plays such as this one by Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham against Florida.

On a more positive note, the mid game break is for the first time up for negotiation between head coaches starting this season.  A minimum of 20 minutes must be retained, however in the case of a delayed or elongated contest, coaches can mutually agree to shorten half time in a bid to reduce the growing total game time average that shows no signs of slowing. (Editor’s note: maybe cut down on TV timeouts..). I wonder how the student athletes themselves following a punishing opening 30 minutes feel about such a change.

Horse Collar Tackling
In a particularly welcome move, the NCAA has decreed an extension to the area considered as the horse collar. Formerly restricted to the interior of the rear collar, starting this campaign, any tackle made to that area extended out to any part of the nameplate of the jersey will be punishable by penalty. A move I’d like to see introduced to the NFL in the near future to weed out callous tackles that can have a detrimental impact upon player safety.

Covering Knees
While this latest revision on the surface may appear to be inconsequential to many, all players irrespective of position shall be required to ‘cover the entirety of the knee’ . Preferably with The introduction of knee pads intended to be rolled out in 2018, will become a reality across all levels of college football, with some schools already moving in this direction. In the shorter term knees will have to be covered with extended pants/socks, leaving no part of the knee exposed in a move to combat the growing plague of serious knee injuries sustained in recent years.

Cover Image: Joe Howell

More ‘Inside College Football’
Preview: Penn State Vs Akron here
UK TV Schedule here


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