Why so many kick return TDs in the ACC? Tom O'Brien has one answer
Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 15, 2012
The new kickoff rules in college have generally been successful in accomplishing their goals.
The kickoff and touchback yard-lines have been moved up, and the number of touchbacks has skyrocketed. But in the ACC, there have been eight kickoff returns of 90-plus yards — a conference record — including three last Saturday.
Most of the coaches on the ACC teleconference couldn't really think of a reason for them, but Tom O'Brien credited part of it to laziness brought on by the new rules.
"Well, I think what you have to do, and it's one thing that we caution our team on all the time is if you have a guy that can kick it in the end zone, sometimes they get lazy running down," he said. "All of a sudden, he doesn't hit it in the end zone, the ball is coming out, and there isn't that same intensity going down. I think that may have something to do with it.
"They automatically assume the ball is going to be kicked in the end zone, they're going to dig it out on the 25, and maybe the ball is mis‑hit, or the other thing is coaches are doing a good job coaching returns."
As for his return guys, O'Brien says a lot of planning and decision-making goes into determining if it's worth returning a kick from the end zone.
"Well, I think it has to do with, you pre‑scout the kickers, and it has to do with hang time, how does the ball get there, does it get there on a line, or is it hung up and gives their team the chance to cover?" he said. "So it has to do with the hang time of the kick and where they are. Special teams coaches look to what yard stripe are they at when the ball gets to the end zone, is it worth bringing out this week, or should we just take the ball on the 25?
You can listen to the teleconference by clicking here. Below are highlights of NC State's most-recent win over Wake Forest.
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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com