NCAA to Encourage Kicking Game; Liberalizes Rules for Punt Returns
The NCAA yesterday adopted a new rule which it hopes will revive the kicking game in football, and lead to more open offensive play.
The new rule requires interior linemen of the kicking team to remain behind the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked. This will give the player receiving the ball an additional few seconds to run it back.
Through this year most teams have been using a nine man line when punting. They have placed their kicker 15 yards behind the line, and delayed the kick until the linemen are downfield within covering distance of the receiver. Punt returns are nearly impossible in this situation.
Harvard football coach John Yovicsin said yesterday that "this rule change offers us a striking new offensive weapon--the punt return. We hope to take advantage of it with boys such as Gatto, who have open-field running ability."
Changes Line Strategy
The rule change will also require changes in the line strategy of the receiving team. "We'll probably work on double-teaming the two outside men who can go downfield so that we can give our receivers even more time to come back," Yovicsin said.
Yovicsin also supported another rule hange, made by the NCAA yesterday, which clarifies the tackle eligible play. It will prohibit the offensive team to flank any player--either lineman or back--outside the eligible tackle.
"This shifting of players is a slightly deceiving act; it just borders on the line of illegal tactice. The rule change will remove the unfair element of surprise in the tackle eligible play," he said.
A third NCAA rule change permits sideline coaching by allowing a coach to confer with one player during any charged time out. This should not affect Harvard's coaching style. Yovicsin said. "I honestly feel that most control should be left to the boys," he added.