Why punt?

Interesting stuff in this AP story (embedded in this post): Between the data he jotted down from the show and what he has collected from his own team’s games over the years, he determined going for it on fourth down every time isn’t risky at all. In fact, according to his numbers, he is playing the percentages — even in the most extreme circumstances.

Let’s take an example.

According to his data, a team that takes over the ball at its opponent’s 10 or closer has a 92 percent chance of scoring a touchdown. A team that gains possession between its opponent’s 40-yard line and its 31 has a 77 percent chance of scoring a touchdown.

So, Kelley figures, even if the Bruins fail to convert, he is only increasing his opponents’ chances of scoring a TD by 15 percentage points more than if his team got off a decent punt. So why not go for it on fourth-and-8 from your own 6?

And, it should be noted, the Bruins convert about 50 percent of the time.


Add Yours
  1. 1
    E.G. White

    Well I’ll tell you this, aside from the danger of potential cardiac arrests to the fans, if the average conversion success as with Pulaski is less than 50%; you damn well better have a ferocious defense! RTR!

  2. 2
    A nony mouse

    In other analyses of this scheme, they pointed out that it is statistically easier to convert 4th down plays in high school than in college or pro.

  3. 3

    Great point A nony mouse! I have to admit if I were coaching, I’d likely quick kick because I’m convinced field position is big still today. I know it is in the NFL.

  4. 4

    Imagine in a few weeks Auburn going for it trailing by seven in the second quarter on 4th and 3 from there own seven. The ball is turned over own downs and Bama goes up 14-0. This changes a close game into a 27-3 blowout. Cheeze-it and company could just go ahead and put for sale signs up in there yards. This article sounds good and I have heard about this team before, however, high school is not college or pro and statisticians do not strap on helmets.

  5. 6
    Hunter Ford

    High school coaches that I have observed in Alabama go for it on fourth down quite often and a lot of the smaller schools go for two almost every time. Reason? Because they don’t have good kickers. What’s the use of lining up for a PAT when you have just as good a chance of scoring two, and in high school maybe a better chance. If you are facing fourth and eight on your opponents forty, in college you try a coffin corner punt or a sky punt and try to pin the other team inside its ten-yard line. I think more coaches at all levels should go for the first down in that scenario unless they have a very reliable punter. more often than not the ball goes into the endzone for a touchback and you only pushed the opponent back 20 yards. Worst case is having a shank that goes ten yards and you blew an opportunity to keep the ball with no reward. No worst case is other team blocking it. Bottom line, high school’s often do not have talented enough kickers to warrant a lot of kicking. College and NFL should rethink “automatic” kicking situations. AND High school is completely different from D-I or NFL

  6. 7
    E.G. White

    Well it’s different than most of D1 anyway. There are some D1 teams that run high school offenses. Uhh, you know who Barnie! Bwwaaa Haaww Haaww! RTR!

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