September 15, 2013
ONLY IN BASEBALL DO YOU SCORE WITHOUT THE BALL:
Going for it on fourth down - lessons from football analytics (Dan Peterson, 9/12/2013, USA Football)
Kevin Kelley, head coach of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., has only one game situation in his playbook when he will punt on fourth down - if his team is winning convincingly and he doesn't want to run up the score.Otherwise, the numbers clearly tell him that punting reduces your chance of winning a game by giving away possession. In the same way, getting the ball back after a score is just as important. Hence, he will regularly call an onside kick."Everyone says football is a game of field position, but it's not," Kevin Kelley told ESPN. "It's a game of scoring points, which only happens when you possess the ball. If you're not obsessed with field position, then you don't punt. You onside a lot. You don't even try to return punts or to block punts, because getting the ball back is far more important than risking a muff or a roughing-the-kicker flag."Making bold decisions during a game requires analyzing probabilities and coming to logical conclusions prior to kickoff."In high school, the average opponent's start after a regular kickoff is the 33-yard line. After a failed onside, it is the 47," Kevin Kelly said. "So you are risking 14 yards of field position in return for a good chance of a turnover. If there were a blitz action that would risk a 14-yard gain by the offense versus a turnover for your defense, you'd call it constantly. That is the equation for an onside, yet the play is hardly ever called."Does the risk yield rewards? Since 2005, when Kevin Kelley started his unorthodox analysis, Pulaski has won two state championships, including an undefeated 2011 season. His program has the second most wins in Arkansas during the last 10 years.
Posted by Orrin Judd at September 15, 2013 12:18 AM
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