So far, the new kickoff rule’s impact on the game has not been as significant as many thought before the season. The biggest change has been an increase in the number of kickoffs returned. The average return on kickoffs from the 30 yard line in 2007 has not been significantly longer than the average on kickoffs from the 35 in 2005-2006. Let’s take a look at the kickoff data after week 3 of the 2007 season.
|Season(s)||Kickoff Start||# Kickoffs||Kickoff Land Avg.||TB||TB %|
Comparing to the kickoff data through week 2, the percentage of touchbacks has decreased and the average landing spot of the kickoff has moved further away from the goal line. The percentage of touchbacks has decreased from 12.39% in week 1, to 12.05% through week 2, to 11.97% through week 3. The average landing spot of kickoffs through week 3 is now the 8.24 yard line, compared to 7.78 through week 2, and 7.98 in week 1.
Last week I noticed that more kickoffs into the end zone from the 30 yard line are being returned in 2007 than kickoffs into the end zone from the 35 in 2005-2006. Here are the numbers through week 3.
|Season(s)||Kickoff Start||End Zone||Returned||Return %|
Breaking the numbers down by week in 2007, the percentage of kicks into the end zone that were returned in week 3, 49.32%, was close to the seasonal percentage of 49.30%.
|Kickoff Start||End Zone||Returned||Return %|
|2007 week 1||30||133||60||45.10%|
|2007 week 2||30||151||80||52.98%|
|2007 week 3||30||146||72||49.32%|
The combination of kickers not kicking the ball as deep and returners advancing the kickoff from the end zone more frequently has led to the decrease in touchbacks in 2007.
Looking at the kickoff return numbers through week 3 based on the kickoff starting line, the average return is up slightly and the average ending spot of the return has crossed the 30 yard line.
|Season(s)||Kickoff Start||# Returns||Return Avg.||Return End Avg.||TD||TD%|
Through week 2, the average return on kickoffs from the 30 was 21.53 yards, compared to 21.72 through week 3. The average ending spot of returns on kickoffs from the 30 was the 29.71 yard line through week 2, compared to 30.17 through week 3. The percentage of kickoffs returned was up slightly as well, from 0.60% through week 2 to 0.66% through week 3. However, this is still down from 0.77% on kickoffs from the 35 in 2005-2006.
Finally, you may have noticed (if you’re particular about such things) that the week 2 data in one of the above tables changed from last week. The number of kicks into the end zone and number of returns for week 2 of 2007 changed from last week’s post. Last week, they were 149 and 79, respectively, and this week they are 151 and 80.
Schools sometimes go back and adjust the statistics for a game, for any number of reasons. The adjustments may be for a game the previous week or for a game several weeks prior. As I become aware of the change, I’ll get the new box score and update my database. So during the season, the statistics for previous weeks’ games are subject to change. I’m not alone in this; the NCAA’s numbers also change when schools adjust the game statistics.