SEC Coaches Prepare For New Rules

Co-written by Alex Abrams HOOVER, Ala. -- Nine different rules changes, mandated by the NCAA, will go into effect this football season. But two stick out as most important to Southeastern Conference coaches and Rogers Redding, the conference's supervisor of officials.


The most noticeable change will be seen on the first play of every game and after every score. All kickoffs now will be booted from the 30-yard line.
"The kickoff return will be back in the game," Redding told a room full of reporters. "There's a lot of fan interest in this, a lot of excitement about a kickoff return.
"Also, it helps speed up the game because you're not wasting time switching teams for the touchback. The clock is running when the ball is touched, while the ball carrier is running with the football."
Attempts to speed up the game last season backfired when coaches griped about the rule change that made the game clock start when the ball was set on change of possession.
That experiment lasted just one year.
Redding said the other most notable change was the NCAA's decision to go back on that rule change. Once again, on change of possession, the clock will start on the snap.
The return to old ways is being welcomed by most coaches.
"I'm glad the clock rules are going back," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "I think it's good decisions, like Rogers has said, to try to save time when the clock is stopped, to get things going a little more efficient there (that will help more) than messing with the actual seconds of the game."
The other rules changes include:
* The game clock will start on a kickoff when the ball is legally touched in the field of play.
* During televised games, charged team timeouts will be just one minute rather than one minute and 30 seconds.
* No defensive player -- in an attempt to block, bat or catch a kick -- may be picked up, elevated, propelled or pushed by a teammate.

More Harvin
Percy Harvin is Florida's version of Darren McFadden, a versatile player who is dangerous with the football. And like McFadden, Harvin can line up at quarterback in a Wildcat-like formation.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said Thursday that he has plans to get the speedy wide receiver more involved in the offense, though he didn't want to elaborate on exactly how.
"(If) you have six or seven hours, I can share with you some ideas we have," Meyer said. "We're not going to do that, but Percy is a great football player.
"He was only healthy for maybe 60 percent of the season last year, and he had tremendous impact on every game he was healthy in."
Harvin was named the most valuable player of last year's SEC Championship Game when the then-freshman rushed for a career-high 105 yards, gained another 62 yards receiving and scored a pair of touchdowns in a 38-28 win over Arkansas.

Bennett Honored
Back in his hometown for SEC media days, Vanderbilt wide receiver Earl Bennett received an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise.
The Birmingham City Council honored Bennett with an Outstanding Citizen Medal on Tuesday.
"I didn't get a key to the city, but I did get a medal," said Bennett, correcting a reporter. "It was a great honor to be honored by the city council."
Bennett, who has been named to the All-SEC first team in both of his first two seasons, could break several of the conference's all-time receiving marks.
He starred at Birmingham's West End High before being snubbed by both Alabama and Auburn.

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