Kickoffs and depth

Mark Richt wouldn’t have a problem if kickoffs were abolished tomorrow.  But Kirk Olivadotti would.

“At the end of the day, shoot, it’s out of my pay grade, whatever they tell us to do we’ll do,” Olivadotti said. “But it’s an exciting play, it’s a play that I know there’s guys that started their playing career at Georgia. Or shoot, in the NFL, there’s guys that played for me for seven years making a million a year and they covered kickoffs and punts. That’s what they did. So guys make a living off doing that stuff too, so that might be where having a kickoff team is important.

“So that’s where I’d lean personally. I do understand the injury aspect. You’re never gonna eliminate injuries. But you want to limit them as much as you can.”

That is… interesting.  He’s got a point that there are plenty of student-athletes on a college roster who only see the field because of special teams play.  But safety concerns are legitimate.

When Georgia recruit Tramel Terry was tore his ACL in the Shrine Bowl on Saturday, the reaction in many quarters was to say it was another reason for these players not to participate in All-Star Games. That’s a valid debate to have, but here’s another part of it:

Terry was injured on the opening kickoff. The kickoff remains the play with the most instances of injury, which is why both the NFL and college football have taken steps to minimize the play.

So maybe you split the baby.  If you eliminate kickoffs, do you need 85 players on scholarship?  Maybe if some of those kids go elsewhere, they’ll have a better chance to play.  And play more safely.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The Body Is A Temple

38 responses to “Kickoffs and depth

  1. Debby Balcer

    Players great hurt in practice too do we eliminated practice? I want the sport safe but there are risks every time you hit the field.

    • But they get hurt more on kickoffs than any other area.

      I’m not advocating for either position here, because I can see both sides to it, but the fact is that this is the riskiest part of playing football.

      • Debby Balcer

        Take away the kickoffs and they will still get hurt more in one type of play, do you then take away that type of play?

        • AusDawg85

          No. SEC refs love seeing Aaron Murray getting slobber-knockered too much to eliminate it.

        • Gravidy

          Beautiful logic! Good work, ma’am.

        • DB, there’s all kind of hurt. The impression I get is that the most serious injury risks occur on kickoffs. I can only assume that’s true, given the way both the pros and colleges are tinkering with the rules.

          Cut blocking is part of the game, too. You okay with that staying legal?

          • Debby Balcer

            No I am not in favor of cut blocking or blocks in the back. The risk of serious Injury in any play is a risk of football. Rambo got knocked out on a block and was lifeless forever it seemed. That play was legal. Launching and helmet to helmet hits are what I went banned and ejections for doing it. I haven’t seen a report that talked of head injuries or risk of paralysis are higher in kickoff returns. Football would not be football to me without kickoff and punt returns.

          • BuzMan

            If you get rid of kickoffs and then the most serious injury risk occurs on interceptions do you make them down at the spot of the interception? I mean it would be much safer. Defensive back aren’t taught how to safely block and offensive players may tackle dangerously…and then what about pass plays over the middle. receivers are in a dangerous position as they concentrate on the ball and have less chance to protect themselves.
            My point is there is always going to be a “most dangerous aspect of football.”

            • Could be… but then again, neither you nor I are looking at getting our asses sued off over brain damage from playing the game.

              • BuzMan

                True ’nuff. But it is a slippery slope, at what point is it too dangerous to have 22 guys on the field at a time or to tackle the QB? or even too dangerous to tackle?

            • 69Dawg

              The pros have already ended hits over the middle. On any given Sunday a hit to a WR over the middle will be called with or without helmet to helmet.

              • The Lone Stranger

                It actualy happened on back-to-back plays in some game I chanced to listen to on thecar radio two weeks back. It is an abominable League.

        • Dante

          Given the history of American football, yes. Football rules have evolved to where they are today largely based on injury avoidance. If you want to strip away all of the injury-avoiding rules you can do that. You can even find players who are willing to play by those same rules. They call it rugby.

      • pantslesspatdye

        I agree that special teams is mass suicide. You get a running start, reach top speed and hit someone heading in the opposite direction doing something similar. However, it is a part of the game – taking a major part of the game away is a slippery slope.

        I would not have imagined the calls being made these days even 10 years ago. I could see them calling aggressive jumping and forceful tackling in another 10. At some point you have to push back or the game will be both unrecognizable and unwatchable.

    • DawgFaithful

      Forget injuries and scholarships. If you take away the kickoff, you take away the onside kick option. What if you’re behind late and need a miracle? You would just be screwedI guess. If you’re down 2 scores late in the 4th quarter you might as well call the game. you would have no shot at a come back. Maybe they could keep the onside kick as an option to use in that situation but how would that make sense? You could make an argument that the onside kick is just as dangerous. Both the kickoff and the onside kick are 2 of the most exciting plays in the game. Haven’t there been enough changes made to the game already? Before long football won’t even resemble the game I played in Highschool just 10 years ago.

      • SCDawg

        They way it’s been explained to me is that you’d get the ball on your own 20 or 25, 4th and 15 or something like that. You could punt the ball or go for it and try to convert a first down. Not sure whether you’re more likely to convert the 4th down play or the onside kick.

        • DawgFaithful

          Pretty soon they’ll be no kicking whatsoever. Would it even make sense to call it Football anymore? That makes about as much sense as considering Missouri a part of the South East United States. Maybe we could just call it “Manball” since woman don’t play it. Or Eggball since the ball resembles an egg somewhat. Anything but football. At that point would it really matter?

  2. Go Dawgs!

    Granted, life isn’t fair, but anything that takes PT away from kids at the highest levels and forces them to fall further down the ranks is going to eventually lead to kids on the lower rungs of the college ladder not getting opportunities.

    I want to make the game safer. That said, eliminating kickoffs eliminates a big part of the game. I am not in favor of it.

  3. Bright Idea

    Sailors, Norman, Vavlas, etc. and players like them would seldom see the field. Poll them on the matter.

  4. Juan

    1st thing that needs to be eliminated is stupid, meaningless all star games. What a terrible idea.

    Honor the kids, but don’t have them play the game. The nfl needs to set the example and eliminate the pro bowl. What a joke that game is nowadays.

    • 69Dawg

      +1000 Ask Robert Edwards if he would like a do over on the ProBowl. Heck he got injured in a flag game that was a side show attraction to the ProBowl.

      • Cojones

        Didn’t AM get injured in a pickup soccer game? What was Mitchell doing when he was injured in practice; stepping on someone’s shoe?

        Those incidents don’t deflect the danger faced by all on kickoffs.

  5. DawgFaithful

    Greg Schiano cracks me up. He wants to eliminate kickoffs but he doesn’t believe in letting the other team kneel and run the clock out. Instead he instructs his 300 lb. linemen to dive at the knees of unsuspecting linemen and QB’s.

    • tbia

      Speaking of that, here’s one I don’t understand.

      Team goes into victory formation and always puts a wide receiver as the last man back. Why not bring in a safety to man that position.

      I mean, should something go terribly wrong, I would much rather have Rambo trying to make a tackle than Tavarres King.

  6. olddawg63

    Eliminating open field tackling and blocking could lead to playing iside the tackles. This would change formations. No wideouts. Lineup seven across with full house backfields. I’m old enough to remember some of the low scoring, 3-0. 7-6, 10-7; 17-14 was a scoring fest. With little scoring, kickoffs are minimized. The game has evolved into wide open offenses and lots of action. I don’t see how this s bad. The safety issues are valid; However, if you are playing football, there are risks. That’s the nature of the beast. Present rules that change the hitting, on quarterbacks, defenseless players, cut blocks, have helped mitigate injuries. If you continue to place restrictions on the game, eventually, the game we all love will become unregconizable. Maybe, football will become strictly a studio game!

  7. Derek

    I’m all for it if it eliminates kickers altogether. I have long promoted yanking the fg posts out. If you want to score, get a TD. Then go for 2. I hate to watch these guys go at it for 4 hours only to see some 150 lb. soccer player win or lose the game. How many times have we seen a game come down to which team had the best soccer reject? I say get rid of their head case, no football playing selves.

    I would be open to the idea that a fg kicker must be an offensive or defensive starter though. Bring the Lou groza’s back or get rid of them altogether.

    • 69Dawg

      Just outlaw soccer style kicking. Hell make them have to drop kick it. Going for 2 would be a breeze compared to a drop kick.

      • BuzMan

        I love me some drop kick or maybe the holder can’t put his knee down (or the ball is down) and tees aren’t allowed.

    • Debby Balcer

      I am sure Rex Robinson and Kevin Butler appreciate your sentiments.

      • Derek

        It isn’t personal. It isn’t about them. It’s about settling a football game by playing football. I just think about all of the fourth down tries we’d have once a team was inside the other team’s 40 and all the big 2 pt plays we are missing. Why? Is watching a guy try a 47 yarder that compelling? A PAT is as boring as watching an intentional walk.

  8. Macallanlover

    I don’t mind the kickoff being minimized at all, but would hate to lose the onside kick option. Just move the ball back to the 40 yard line and that will virtually eliminate it, especially with the option to get the 25 yard line by not returning the kick. (still want the silly.frivilous block in the back penalty eliminated. above the waist is just not an injury situation.)

    On the FGs, would love to see teams have to go for it if they begin a drive inside the Red Zone, no option for a chip shot FG. If you want to kick a FG, you have to do it before you enter the RZ. adding risk. Otherwise I want to see 4th down possession plays leading to six, or nada.

    One other point, eliminating kickoffs wouldn’t mean you should get less than 85 schollies, but it would lead to fewer walk-ons staying around through a season of practice with little chance to play. That would put more scholarship athletes at risk by having to contribute more on scout teams.

    • Texas Dawg

      Hey I’m a soldier, let’s eliminate wars in the name of safety

      • GaskillDawg

        Haven’t militaries tried new technologies and tactics over the years to reduce the risk to soldiers and sailers of getting injured or killed?

  9. Tom

    Put flags on ’em. Tackling is the problem. No blocking below the waist. No one over 200 lbs allowed. No one faster the 6.0 in the 40. How far is this going?

  10. GaskillDawg

    The New York Times last Sunday had a good article about this issue from the NFL perspective, although the suggestions could apply at any level of football.
    I gather from the thread that everyone knows the Greg Schaino suggestion. Another one that has some support is this. Keep kickoffs as we know it, but deal with the factor making kickoffs more dangerous; that is, the greater momentum from coverage guys getting a 40 yard head of steam before the collisions occur. That is a reason for the rule change requiring coverage guys to line up within 10 yards of the ball before kickoff. The plan would be to require at least 8 return guys to line up within 20 yards of the ball so that initial contact is at lower speeds and lower momentum. While that rule change would require coaches to devise new coverage and return strategy, that is what coaches do.

    I believe there are ways to preserve the kickoff as a bona fide football play while making it safer; the powers that be just need to have the will to do so. NFL teams pay millions for their on field assets. It is in the NFL’s interest to make sure the million dollar assets are healthy and can play. The NCAA or the teams, I am not sure which, provide insurance to the college players. That is how the young man from Rutgers can afford the lifetime of care and therapy he is, and will continue, to receive. His care will cost the insurer multiple millions of dollars over the course of the man’s life. Maybe, at this point, the claims histories do not affect insurers’ profits, but as players get bigger and faster there will be a point at which some point the insurers will demand changes to make kickoffs safer. That will provide “the will” to make kickoffs safer, if nothing else has sooner.