HOOVER, Ala. – The NCAA has implemented several new rule changes for the upcoming season.
The most significant being moving the kickoff to the 35-yard line from the 30-yard line and making a touchback go to the 25-yard line rather than the 20-yard line like it has been in years past.
"As we compile statistics, that's a play that has a higher level of potential injury in it than a regular scrimmage down," said Steve Shaw, the coordinator of officials for the Southeastern Conference.
Another rule change involving a kickoff is a kick driven straight into the ground. The receiving team is allowed protection to catch the ball just like on an airborne kick.
Another concern with safety was players losing their helmets. If a player's helmet comes off, not from result of a foul, the player must leave the game for one play.
If a player loses his helmet, he is not permitted to continue to participate in the play. The player can continue his action, but a 15-yard penalty will be assessed for participation after the helmet coming off.
A player receiving a kick will now have a "modified halo" of shoulder width and 1 yard in front of him to catch the ball.
Another rule change is no player can jump over a punter's shield to block the ball. Most teams have three guys close to the punter to protect him, and in the past, players have jumped over the shield attempting to block the punt.
Players can go through them, around them or dive around them.
Shaw also mentioned that there will be new changes to blocking below the waist. Most of these penalties will be judgment calls.
One example is a player can not peel back toward his own goal line and block below the waist.
Banks getting praises
from opposing players
Former East Webster player Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State has earned a lot of respect this offseason.
He has garnered All American status, All-SEC and has been selected to numerous watch lists.
He has also gotten some praise from some of his opponents.
Auburn wide receiver Emory Blake said Banks is the "toughest cornerback to play against in the SEC."
Banks and Blake won't have a long wait to see each other on the field again. They meet in week two on September 8 in Starkville with an 11 a.m. kickoff televised by ESPN.
finds himself "blessed"
Arkansas head coach John L. Smith had another job that he had just taken in December when he learned he was to replace Bobby Petrino.
That was the hot topic of the day, but Smith entrained the sports writers in the main room with his humor about the situation.
One reporter asked Smith if he would like to be at Arkansas for more than one year and his answer was quite hilarious.
"Well, certainly," Smith said. "Do I look stupid? Don't answer that question (smiling)."
Although he was funny, he has high hopes for the Razorbacks.
"Our goal is to be a national championship football team and that's what we want to get done," Smith said.
Razorback quarterback Tyler Wilson has talked to Petrino since his removal as head coach. Petrino apologized to Wilson.
"Obviously, I think there's some true remorse there," Wilson said. "He feels badly."
Florida plays nine
straight SEC games
The Gators open up with Bowling Green in Gainesville on September 1, then enter the gauntlet playing all eight of their SEC games in a row.
Florida's last conference game is on November 3 against Missouri.
"We go to Texas A&M and to Kentucky," UF head coach Will Muschamp said. "We have to get a leg up on the SEC race. I know it's been a motivating factor for our kids this summer in their workouts."
The Gators end their season with a homecoming matchup against Louisiana, a home game against Jacksonville State and they travel to Tallahassee, Fla. to take on in-state rival Florida State.
Muschamp met with sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard earlier in the week and announced that he will be transferring. Muschamp described it as a "mutual decision."
Muschamp also eluded to the fact that his team will have to score to win.
"We need to finish," he said. "We were outscored 72 to 22 (in the fourth quarter) in SEC games. That's something you can attribute in the weight room."
Kentucky's Phillips not
worried about hot seat
This may be Joker Phillips' third year at Kentucky, but there have already been signs and talks of him being on the hot seat.
In his two seasons as the head of the Wildcats, he has compiled an 11-14 record with both years being losing seasons.
"I don't have time to listen to that stuff," Phillips said. "All we have to time to think about is doing all the productive things in our program that we need to get it back to the level that we want to."
Longest day in SEC
Media Days history
Wednesday's session of the SEC Football Media Days was the longest one in history, with both time and the number of schools.
Six schools (Mississippi State, Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky, Auburn and LSU) participated in day two.
The day started at 8:30 a.m. with both MSU and Florida taking center stage. The day finished around 5 p.m. with a pair of Tigers, Auburn and LSU.