New NCAA rule cuts kickoff tee in half

ATHENS – Brandon Coutu's life just got a little bit more difficult – by one inch to be precise.

When the NCAA Rules Committee decided to lower the kicking tee in college football by one inch, it was supposed to reduce the number of touchbacks in a game.

"I don't think it has effected me too much," said Coutu of the one-inch change. "The biggest thing for me was getting stronger in the off-season to try to make up for anything the tee might have taken away."

The summer work seems to have paid off so far. Coutu had nine kickoffs last Saturday against Western Kentucky, of which four were touchbacks. Often, however, there are time when the Bulldogs actually want a kickoff return. On those kicks Coutu tries to place the ball between the goal line and the five-yard line near the corners of the field. This is the pin the opposition in a bad return position.

"We do what Coach Fabris wants," of the Dawgs' return philosophy. "I can't really get into it more than that."

The rule change was supposed to help speed the game along. The reduction in size of the tee has gotten relative little complaints compared to the other rule changes

Sawing the height of the kickoff tee in half is the most significant rule change in the kicking game since place kickers were forced to attempt field goals from the ground instead of a kicking tee.

Coutu holds the record for longest kick not from a tee in SEC history. That kick came last year against Louisiana-Monroe when he nailed a 59-yard kick near the end of the fist half of Georgia's 44-7 win.

"That would be awesome," said Coutu of what it would be like to kick with the aid of a placekicking tee. "They used to be able to use two-inch tees. Who knows? It's kind of like driving a golf ball when its teed up you can hit it a lot further. It would be nice to fin out how much longer it would go."

"But I don't dwell on something I can't have," Coutu said with a smile. Good thing for the record books because with a tee Coutu probably would be on his way to rewriting Georgia's kicking records.

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