Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the changes to kickoff rules haven't changed the amount of time the Irish spend preparing for them in practice, but it has adjusted to how the team prepares.
Teams will kick off from the 35-yard line instead of the 30 this season with touchbacks going to the 25 instead of the 20. Also, coverage units will only be allowed a five-yard running start.
"I think what's adjusted more than anything else is there's really only two types of kicks, one is kicking out of the end zone, and one is trying to kick a ball that hangs so your coverage scheme can get down there," Kelly said. "But now with the encroachment rule being five yards, it changes the pace of your kickoff team getting down there a little bit. … I don't know that that's always equaled out to less time but maybe more concentrated effort on one or two types of kicks."
George Atkinson III will be handling kickoff returns again this year. Last season, the sophomore had a single-season school record 915 kickoff return yards and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Atkinson said he is prepared for what teams may do because of the new rules.
"We realize too that teams my sky kick, you know, kick it up high in the air, so we've got to be prepared for that," Atkinson said. "Then again, if we get that touchback, we start at the 25. So it is a help to the offense. We want a good return."