- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved moving the kickoff and touchback lines beginning with the 2012 football season. Teams will now kick off on the 35-yard line instead of the 30.
Touchbacks will be moved to the 25-yard line instead of the 20 in an effort to encourage more touchbacks.
The move should benefit Alabama, which struggled to kick the ball through the end zone from the 30-yard line. UA had the fewest touchbacks in the SEC with five in 2011-12.
Alabama finished the season ranked 61st in kickoff return yardage defense in the NCAA.
Players on the kicking team will no longer be allowed to line up behind the 30-yard line, which is intended to limit the running start defenses used to have during the play.
The new kickoff rules were implemented in a response to data showing that "injuries during kickoffs occur more often than in other phases of the game," according to a news release by the NCAA.
Another new rule will require a player that loses his helmet (other than as the result of a foul) will be treated like an injury and must leave the field for at least the following play. Also, if a player loses his helmet, he must not continue to participate in the play, in order to protect him from injury.
There will also be a new rule keeping the receiving team from leaping over blockers in an attempt to block punts.