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Kiffin: New college football helmet communication rule ‘cheat code’ for Ole Miss offense

Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

A few changes are coming to college football and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin is optimistic that one new feature will greatly benefit his offense.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday approved a new layout that will make college football mirror the National Football League (NFL) in a sense this year. Beginning in the 2024 season, each school at the FBS level can use coach-to-player communications through the helmet to one player on the field. That player will be identified by having a green dot on the back midline of the player’s helmet.

According to the NCAA, the communication from the coach to the player will be turned off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or when the ball is snapped — whichever comes first.

A feature that was predominantly pushed by defensive coaches in the sport, the Ole Miss frontman believes the addition of direct verbal communication between him and an offensive player (presumably the quarterback) will open the door to make his wildly successful play-calling abilities even more dynamic than they have been in years past.

“I think it’s really like having a cheat code in Madden offensively. I don’t know that they’ve really thought, defensively, of what that really means,” Kiffin said. “I think the assumption there is just, ‘Oh, you talk to the quarterback,’ but there’s really more to it than that, especially with the way we run our offense … I think it’s a cheat code offensively if you do certain things offensively.”

In three of his four years at the helm in Oxford, Kiffin’s offenses have ranked top three in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Rebels finished the 2023 campaign ranked No. 3 in the SEC offensively and amassed the first 11-win season in program history capped off by a Peach Bowl victory.

Veteran signal-caller Jaxson Dart will be back in action at Ole Miss for his senior season after throwing for 3,364 yards, 23 touchdowns, and five interceptions last year. He will be joined by a returning corps consisting of standout wide receiver Tre Harris, All-SEC tight end Caden Prieskorn, and reliable wideout Jordan Watkins as well as a group of transfers ready to make an immediate impact.

Another new addition to college football this fall will be the ability for schools across all three divisions to utilize tablets to view in-game videos. The videos can include the broadcast feed and camera angles from the coach’s sideline and the coach’s end zone.

Teams can have up to 18 active tablets for use in the coaching booth, sideline, and locker room. Tablets cannot be connected to other devices to project larger additional images and cannot include analytics, data, data access capability, or other communication access. All team personnel will be allowed to view the tablets during the game.

A two-minute timeout resembling the NFL’s notorious two-minute warning will also be in effect this season. An automatic officials timeout will be called when two minutes remain in the second and fourth quarters. This rule change synchronizes all timing rules, such as 10-second runoffs and stopping the clock when a first down is gained in bounds, which coincides with the two-minute timeout.

The 2024-25 college football season will kick off in August.

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