SprotsGloss: Touchback


Megan Avi HeaderIt’s almost football season and this year and Sprots Gloss is going all football all the time! Today’s term is touchback.  A touchback is when the opposing team punts the ball into or past the other team’s end zone. A touchback is also recorded if the punt returner catches the punt in the end zone and takes a knee. In either instance, the returning team gets to then start at the 20 yard line. EXCEPT if you play in the NFL because the powers that be have decided to trial run making a touchback worth starting at the 25 yard line for 2016 because why the hell not?



My first semester of college, a bunch of friends and I were huddled around a 13” TV watching our first TCU away game. Our opponent, New Mexico, kicked the ball well beyond the TCU end zone and I said, “Cool, we get a touchback”. They were impressed when the game commentator echoed that with a touchback, TCU will start at the 20. I’m still not sure why that was awe-inspiring. Moral of the story: if you want to impress people, know this term!

The strategy of utilizing the touchback varies from team to team. Obviously, if your opponent has an incredibly talented punt returner, you’re probably going to tell your kicker to kick the Crying Jordan face right off that ball so that at least one of your opponent’s strengths is handicapped.

On the other hand, if you’re the receiving team, you might consider a touchback if your team is prone to fumbling or has a good passing offense that can quickly make up the deficit of opting to start at the 20 yard line. Andrew Mooney of Harvard Sports Analysis gives a good look into the strategy of the touchback you can check out.

Questions? Comments? Leave one below or stalk Megan on @sprotstakes @SprotsBae

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