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The United States Football League (USFL) will kick off on Saturday, with the first game of the new season played between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions.
The USFL will have some rules that will differentiate it from the NFL.
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Mike Pereira, the head of officiating for the USFL, broke down some of the exciting new changes in the league in an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday.
One of the first rules that were changed was the scoring. Teams that score a touchdown will have three options for extra points. A team could choose to go for one, two or three points after the score. For one point, the team would kick a 15-yard field goal. For two points, a team would have to cross the goal line from the 2-yard line. For three points, a team can try to score from the 10-yard line.
“Here’s the thing, we wanted to keep the game close in the fourth quarter. So we think of a one score game as like an eight-point game – a touchdown and an extra points,” Pereira told “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade. “Well now, it’s a nine-point game. It kind of gives that excitement to the fourth quarter, even thinking OK 18 points down I’m still down by only two scores. That’s an innovation I think is going to be really cool.”
Pereira said the kickoff rules in the USFL were taken from The Spring League in hopes of creating more offense during the games.
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“I love the new kickoff. It was kind of brought from The Spring League last year where you kick off from the 25-yard line. Everything is going to be returned – 95% of kickoffs were returned in The Spring League last year and I think it’s going to be the same this year,” he said.
“We line up the teams close together so they’re running down field after the ball is kicked kind of like a punt so I think it’s going to be a safe kickoff return. It’s something we’re going to monitor. But I think with so many kickoff returns from the 25-yard line, the drive start is going to be out by like the 40-, 45-yard line. It’s going to help the offense and it’s one of the innovations. We’re trying to get the kickoff back in the game but trying to keep it safe also.”
Teams will also have two different options moving forward after scoring. The team could elect to attempt an onside kick or try to get the ball back by converting a 4th-and-12 play from their own 33-yard line, which Pereira said is risky.
“You’re gonna basically say after you get a touchdown and an extra point and you’re behind, or maybe you’re not even behind, but you want to try to get the ball back, the traditional onside kick right now is very difficult to recover. We know that with the stats that are in the NFL. We thought let’s put a scrimmage play on board. Let’s give you the ball 4th-and-12 at the 33-yard line and play football. You get a play and if you make a first down you actually can keep the ball,” he said.
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“If you don’t make a first down, the risk is high because if you get sacked, for example, the defense is going to get the ball there. It’s been done before, it’s not brand new. Other spring leagues have tried it, but it’s a good addition for those teams that don’t like their chances on the onside kick to keep the ball.”
The overtime rules are also much different. Pereira likened it to a soccer shootout.
Overtime will be a best-of-three shootout. Each offense will try to score from the 2-yard line and each successful play will result in two points. The team with the most points after three plays will be the winner.
Any subsequent attempts will become sudden death if the score is tied after each team runs three plays, with the period extending until there’s a winner.
“It’s a different approach. A different look to overtime, which we know everybody’s been talking about,” Pereira said.
Each regular-season game will be played in Birmingham, Alabama, with the playoffs in Canton, Ohio, at a facility near the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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The season will begin on April 16 and run through July 3.