While juggling new rosters and depth charts this season, coaches will also have to adjust to a few rule changes that could have a major impact on the outcome of games.
Here are a few of the important rule changes:
If a player takes a shot to the head that the referee feels could have resulted in a concussion, the official can send the player off to be attended to by trainers. The player must stay off the field for one play. If the player demonstrates any concussion-like symptoms, they must follow the new concussion protocol put in place this season by the UIL.
Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties can now take points off the board. If a player commits an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, such as taunting, and it is clearly a live-ball foul committed before the player crosses the goal line, the 15-yard penalty is assessed from the spot of the foul and points are removed if the play resulted in a score. The even crazier hypothetical to this new rule is if a non-ball carrying player commits an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty before the ball enters the end zone on a scoring play, the penalty is assessed from the spot of the foul.
To protect linebackers, new rules have been put in place to restrict how offensive players can block below the waist. The rules remain the same for any player in the tackle box or on the line. They can block below the waist in any direction. Players that are split out, including the tight end if he is not within the 7-yard limit of the tackle box, are restricted on how they can block below the waist. Those players can only block “north-south”, vertically from goal line to goal line, or back to the player’s “adjacent sideline”, which is the sideline he is closest to when the ball is snapped. This can get tricky when players go into motion past the snapper because their “adjacent sideline” changes.