A proposed NCAA rule change could change the way Ohio State handles its kickoffs.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee announced Friday that it was proposing a rule which would allow returners to fair catch any kick inside the 10-yard line and have it result in a touchback (giving the offense its a starting position of its own 25-yard line).
“The committee discussed the kickoff play at great length and we will continue to work to find ways to improve the play,” Larry Fedora, the chair of the committee and head coach at North Carolina, said in a statement. “We believe making one change will allow us to study the effect of this change in terms of player safety.”
This would likely change Ohio State’s strategy on kickoffs. In recent years, Urban Meyer’s team has tried to pin opponents deep by kicking the ball to a corner of the field inside the 10-yard line but not into the end zone. Ohio State believes it gives its coverage team more time to get downfield and ultimately gives opponents worse starting field position.
Ohio State’s kickers had just 12 touchbacks and sent 5 kicks out of bounds in the 2017 campaign. Ohio State’s opponents had 27 touchbacks and sent only 1 kick out of play.
The proposed rule has to be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is planning to discuss potential changes on April 13.