If a player loses his helmet on a play this year, he must exit the game for the following play. The lone exception here is if his helmet is removed as part of a penalty such as a facemask. All plays where a ball carrier's helmet comes off will be whistled dead immediately. Anybody else on the field who loses his helmet during the course of a play must take himself out of the action immediately or risk a personal foul penalty.
Safety is, of course, once again the goal here, and Carollo said the Big Ten had one game alone where 25 helmets came off.
"The whole premise behind that was to make our players buckle up and make those helmets more secure and more safety driven," said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who served on the rules committee that came up with the changes.
There could be some unintended consequences, however. The new rule states that there will be a 10-second runoff if a ball carrier's helmet comes off in the final minute of either half. So if that happens and there are fewer than 10 seconds left, it could end the game.
"I'm not quite sure this is a great rule," Fitzgerald said. "If a game goes down to the wire and you lose a game because a kid's helmet comes off? Wait for that firestorm."
Or what if players intentionally try to knock off opponents' helmets to gain an advantage? Bielema said he's educated his players to grab hold of their helmets and pull them down if they start to feel loose. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he used to allow players to unbuckle their helmets at times but now insists they always keep them tight.
Just be ready to see a star player have to come out of a game or take himself out of a crucial play because of a helmet malfunction. Bielema said he understands there are some objections to the rule.
"But when you talk about the health and well being of an 18- to 22-year-old who's got his whole life in front of him, nothing is more important," he said.
3. Low blocks: Blocking below the waist is now mostly prohibited with very few exceptions.
Linemen must be within seven yards of the snapper to block low, while backs in the backfield are allowed to do so within the tackle box. All other low blocks are prohibited. So you won't see a receiver taking out a cornerback's knees or linemen going downfield and going low on a run block.
"Our number one emphasis was high hits and defenseless players and concussions," Carollo said. "Well, low hits are just as dangerous, so we’ve changed a few things."
Make sure you know all of the rules changes before football starts Thursday.