A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
Kneel before Sod

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  1. #1
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    Florida State

    Default SI: Kevin Kelley, Unconventional Coach. Opponent Down 29-0 Before Touching The Ball

    If you think Bill Belichick bucks convention with his play-calling, meet Kevin Kelley, head football coach of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark. Actually, perhaps you've met him already.

    Kelley has become a cult figure among both football coaches and the sports analytics community for his disregard -- contempt even -- for traditional football wisdom.

    For one, Kelley doesn't believe in punting. His Bruins teams go for it on fourth down, even in the most extreme situations. His playbook is filled with tricks and gimmicks. He often forbids his players to return punts, reckoning that the odds of a fumble outstrip the incremental yards that can be gained from a return. After his team scores, it almost always attempts an onside kick. There are 12 varieties in the playbook -- including one in which the ball is placed flat on the ground -- and Kelley figures that the chance of recovery outweighs the risk of allowing the opposition to start a drive near midfield.

    The funny thing about Kelley: He's not a mad scientist or an iconoclast, zigging where everyone else is zagging, for the hell of it. Rather, he's a relentlessly rational sort whose methods have backing in data.

    The decision not to punt? According to Kelley's statistics, when a team punts from near its end zone, the opponent will take possession inside the 40-yard line and will then score a touchdown 77 percent of the time. If it recovers on downs inside the 10, it will score a touchdown 92 percent of the time. "So [forsaking] a punt, you give your offense a chance to stay on the field," he said. "And if you miss, the odds of the other team scoring only increase 15 percent. It's like someone said, '[Punting] is what you do on fourth down,' and everyone did it without asking why."

    To read more:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/201...ski/index.html

    What a wild story. Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel just ran a report on him this morning. Saints HC Sean Payton weighed in, along with some top NFL statisticians. Their findings were pretty remarkable...like NFL teams convert 4th and 1 exactly 75% of the time--and that they punt way too often.
    Last edited by McD5; 01-29-12 at 01:14 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Florida State

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    His record is 114-19, with three state championships. In four years, he has punted a total of four times.

    How this relates to the NFL was really interesting:

    NFL teams should almost always go for it on 4th and 1--regardless of field position.

    On average, failing on an onside kick only costs the kicking team 14 yards in field position. So why kick the ball deep?

    NFL statistics strongly suggest that going for it on fourth down anywhere between the 40s is the correct decision. Anything fourth and eight or less favors going for it--even on your own 40.
    Last edited by McD5; 01-29-12 at 01:15 PM.
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  3. #3

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    James Madison

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    Fascinating stuff, McD. Thanks for posting. Having just finished Moneyball (book and movie), this is appealing to me. I wonder how much job security it would take for a coach to actually try some of this stuff?

    In my opinion, the Ravens screwed themselves out of the Super Bowl with conservative, inconsistent coaching. If more coaches would grow a set, things could get interesting quickly, imo.
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    Florida Atlantic

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    I've been screaming this for years. I don't know about NEVER punting, but punting from the inside the 50 is infuriating. Unless you have a guy that can pin it deep every time (can't wait for Brad Wing to come out) inside the 5, its kind of pointless.
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  5. #5
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    If you can somehow find the Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel episode (hulu maybe) I strongly recommend it.

    And yes Goal, that was cowardly and stupid. Especially considering the Ravens defense.
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  6. #6
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    Florida State

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    Might as well make the field 75 yards wide, add 10 yards to each endzone, make it 3 downs and call it CFL!
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

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    Eh. It's high school. You can get away with all sorts of things at the lower levels that you'd never get away with in the pros. I knew a guy who was a high school baseball coach, and every time one of his players got on base, they'd steal, and steal, and steal until they scored. Every time. And that sort of thing can work because some kids at that level can't make routine plays that every single pro can make.

    If someone tried a gimmicky scheme like that in the NFL, it might work for a few games until the other coaches got the film on him, and then it would backfire. Especially crap like rushing all 11 guys.

    That said, offense has become so favored in the NFL that I wouldn't be surprised to see some teams open it up a little bit more. But never punting, always kicking onside kicks ... not gonna happen.
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    High school yes. Will some of this work in the NFL? Yeah, I think so. Oh, I wouldn't be rushing 11 guys against Brady, Rogers or either Manning brother but any NFL offense worth the name should be able to get 1 yard at will. It is one of the most frustrating things in the world to me too. A proper slant route, with just an average QB, should be good for 1-2 yards every single time.

    Does that mean I advocate going for it on 4th and 1 on our own 10 yard line? No chance. In the NFL missing that is, at a minimum, a give me FG. Not so in high school where I saw a lot of teams go for 2 after TDs all the time because they didn't have a FG kicker worth the name.
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    With all due respect, using stats like 'NFL teams convert a 4th-and-1 75% of the time' or 'you only lose 14 yards failing an onside kick' as justification for doing it all the time (or even significantly more often) is like seeing a RB with a 4.3 ypc average and suggesting he should just run the ball every down because he'll average more than ten yards every four carries. The reason those stats seem so skewed to favor going for it more often is because teams DON'T go for it all the time. If a team went for it on every 4th and short, other teams would adjust to it and use it to their advantage. Same with going for an onside kick every time (by the way, I think that 'you only lose 14 yards' stat is BS. Especially now that 90% of downfield kicks result in touchbacks.)

    I thought Moneyball was a good movie, but I wouldn't start basing my pro-football scheme on that and what some high school coach realized he could get away with.
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    I didn't quote any stats, Henry. I just said that an NFL offense should be able to get 1 yard nearly anytime it needs it. That doesn't mean they will always make it every time. Not every offensive play works, obviously. But 1 yard should be possible more often than not.
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    Marine Corps Virginia

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    We can all 'conjecture' - the truth is, no one here knows what might hapen if an NFL team started taking some of these approaches. People never thought the wildcat could work, but it did (although as Henry described can happen, defenses eventually figured out how to stop it). And Tebow was pretty effective running the option in Denver - another one of those 'it can't work in the NFL' phenomenon.

    I tend to agree with Henry, but I am not as certain that parts of what this guy employs, such as going for it on 4th down the majority of the time, couldn't be an effective strategy. I'd love to see someone try it
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    Florida Atlantic

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    I think Henry is right, and this would not work as a regular strategy for an NFL team. However, IMO this does show that pro teams should at least THINK about punting less between the 40s. If I were an NFL coach, I'd probably go for it on 4th down every time inside the 50, unless you have a punter who can consistently put it inside the 5-10 yard line.
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  13. #13
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    Florida State

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    Apparently someone else agrees. It will be interesting to see this in college games this season.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-...35--ncaaf.html
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    Perfect response in the comment section:

    "For the record, I have employed this strategy in Madden for a number of years..."
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    It's an interesting strategy that probably only works for Kelley because it exploits probably the weakest area of HS teams, i.e. special teams. I suspect most HS kickers struggle outside of 30 yards which gives him a big advantage. In contrast 50+ yard FGs are not at all uncommon in the NFL so going for it on 4th down at the 50 yard line in the NFL is probably handing your opponent 3 points because he's only 20 yards from being in FG range. So yes, you might score more often, but you'll probably find yourself on the negative side points-wise in the end.

    What I don't get is the lack of adaptation on the part of Kelly's opponents. Were I coaching against him I'd put a lot of resources and effort into getting the best kicker and special teams coach I could find. Heck, just practicing onside kick recoveries more and using the "hands" package on kickoffs every time should yield some results.

    As for the 11 man pass rush, he must have known the QB he was facing was a really poor one because on any two plays like that almost any QB should get a TD on at least one of them. Hell, I bet even I could throw a TD in the NFL against 11 guys rushing and no coverage. I might end up with both legs sticking out of one ear hole on two plays, but on the third one I'm golden.
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    “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.” --Thomas Paine

 

 

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