Putting the Foot back into Gridiron Football: EKU Does Its Bit
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Never forget that football in America -- aka gridiron football -- evolved from rugby.
For example, the onside kick is a direct descendant of rugby protocol after a score. It's also not unusual for the kicking team to come up with the ball and play on.
And in rugby, whose ancestor is association football -- aka soccer -- it's not only legal to advance an offensive possession by punting the ball forward, it's quite common.
Here's a classic example of it at the beginning of this video clip:
Last weekend, as Morehead State was the latest to discover, a variation of this rule is still in the books in gridiron football.
Check it out:
Specifically, gridiron's rule states that if a punt does not cross the line of scrimmage, the punting team can catch the ball without penalty and advance it.
In Eastern Kentucky's case, they made it a closer play than it should have been. But they made it.
More and more NCAA and NFL teams are taking advantage of the accuracy that ruggers and Aussie rule footballers command to effect pinpoint and roll-forward punts. However, as we see above, their skills have other advantages.
How long before we see this tactic at the top levels of the gridiron game?
Simply the threat of it makes gunners' roles more intruiging. Downfield coverage can become more effective for conventional punts, as sooner of later, a team will begin to deploy 'inside' gunners who should easily be able to outpace interior linemen downfield and make less obstructed plays on the receiver. Unless, of course, the receiving team counters with faster players along the interior line itself. Which in turn could produce more effective fake punts in short-yardage situations.
Gridiron football has struggled to export its game to other parts of the world. However, it's finding that athletes from other parts of the world can make it a better and more strategic game.