Florida State took advantage of the new NCAA rule on kickoffs Saturday and one of the more athletic coverage units that the team has had in the last several seasons. The new rules moved up the kickoff line five yards this season but also gave offenses five more yards on touchbacks. So instead of beginning at the 20-yard line, teams will start at the 25 on kicks into the end zone.
Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins skyed 12 kickoffs with only five going into the endzone for touchbacks. The other nine resulted in Murray State starting well shy of the 25-yard line. SB Nation FSU blog Tomahawk Nation discusses the rule change and the results from Saturday.
The other seven were stopped at MS 9, MS 15, MS 20, FSU 46 (though 15 yards of this was from a facemask), MS 21, MS 8 and MS 18.
By doing so, Florida State netted 34 yards of field position compared to what it would have yielded had it simply booted the ball through the end zone and given the Racers the ball at the 25 via the touchback. In other words, the average start for Murray State on those kickoffs was about the 20 yard line. That's a big difference.
The new rules are going to force teams to focus much more on sound coverage instead of simply booting the ball through the back of the end zone.