NCAA changes regulations for lacrosse and football

Hannah Carroll, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

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Senior Joey Connors and junior David Haithcock collide near the end zone during the first game of the season against Maryville College. The NCAA has made several regulation changes that will affect the 2018-2019 season. Photo by Bruno Rosa | Campus Carrier

The NCAA released their official rule changes for the 2018-2019 year, which impact Berry’s lacrosse and football teams and will be in effect for all college level teams.

The NCAA has made three crucial adjustments to the rules of men’s lacrosse: an 80-second shot clock will be added, sub boxes have been reduced from 20 yards to 10 and crease dives are now legal.

With the shot clock in place, a team’s offense will now have 80 seconds to attempt to score once the ball crosses the midfield for every possession. Teams will have 20 seconds to pass the ball across the midfield line and 60 seconds to attempt to score or else they will face a penalty.

The sub box was expanded to 20 yards to increase quick substitutions on the field, but has now been reduced back to 10 yards for essentially the opposite effect. Now that the box is smaller, it will become more difficult to make substitutions and will force players to be on the field longer.

The NCAA also legalized dives at the crease (the area marked around the goal) but not dives towards the mouth of the goal. Players’ feet are allowed to leave the ground so long as the ball crosses the goal line before the player lands in the crease. This alteration will give offensive players more flexibility when attempting to score and opportunities to showcase their athleticism. The safety of the goalie is still a priority, which is why a penalty is in place for offensive dives towards the mouth of the goal.

The NCAA’s changes for football, include: the option to call a fair catch at kick-off, restrictions on low blocks and the addition of a 40-second play clock.

Players will have the option of calling a fair catch during kickoff to allow them to begin from their own 25-yard line. This rule was created to decrease kickoff runbacks and to make the play safer.

A new rule for blocking prohibits offensive players from blocking below the waist if they are more than five yards downfield. Below-the-waist blocks made within this five-yard limit are still to be made from the front to ensure the safety of players.

A 40-second play clock was also added to start immediately after touchdowns and kickoffs. The intent is to increase the pace of game and decrease the amount of celebration after touchdowns.

The changes made to lacrosse rules appear to play in favor of the men’s lacrosse team, according to Head Coach Curtis Gilbert.

The game of lacrosse has typically been a slower game performed with deliberate and calculated moves, but Berry has always preferred playing with quick actions and fast plays. With the addition of the shot clock, the game is now forcing other teams to play at a faster pace that Berry is already accustomed to, further promoting the team’s mantra of, “play hard, play fast, play fun,” according to Gilbert.

Another addition to lacrosse regulations is the premiere of the two-way midfielder, a position that now has to play both defense and offense. A faster pace of game, coupled with sub boxes being reduced in size, means that there are fewer opportunities for substitutions, thus creating the conditions for a two-way midfielder who will remain longer on the field and assume roles of both defense and offense.

A change in pace of the game will not only affect the strategy that is implemented, but also the physicality of the athletes. Players will now be pushed to be in better shape and have greater endurance, senior midfielder Justin Westbrook said. The average amount of running for players prior to rule changes was two to four miles a game; now, that average is expected to increase to three to five miles, according to Gilbert.

Overall, the changes in policy have generated abundant positivity and anticipation among the coaching staff and athletes for the upcoming season, according to Gilbert and Westbrook. Lacrosse games will now be more fan-friendly and exciting to watch.

The official season of lacrosse begins during the spring semester, allowing Berry the opportunity to experiment with new play strategies and adjust to the shift of pace during the fall semester. This season will showcase different styles of play never seen before as the team is now: “cooking with all new utensils,” said Gilbert.

Football, likewise, is also experiencing changes in their program.

Tony Kunczewski, Head Coach of Berry football team, said that the rule changes were implemented with the safety of the players in mind and have very little effect on the strategy of the game. The fundamentals of the sport were modified to accommodate these new rules, and the structure is also remaining the same, according to Kunczewski.

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