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    Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    There's some decently interesting stuff here - ignore the KU part, this isn't meant to be any sort of a homer post - As somewhat of a stat geek, this intrigued me.

    "Fourth-down myths and trying to bust them" by The Newell Post / LJWorld.com

    In every situation fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2 and fourth-and-3 running the ball, statistically, is the correct call. And on fourth-and-1 and fourth-and-2, the numbers aren't even close. Both scenarios see a success rate jump by more than 20 percent when a run is called.
    The post also has other stats to look at, such as this one: The success rate of a 4th and 5 is 43.2% (probably a little less near the goalline, but I don't have those stats). So assuming you are at the 5 yard line on 4th down, your expected points by going for it are 3.024 (7 x .432), while your expected points by kicking can't be more than 3, and could be significantly less if your kicker is poor. Additionally, if you don't convert this 4th and 5, the opponent has the ball inside their own ten, instead of on the 30 or 35 they would get it to on a kickoff, something that itself is likely worth at least a fraction of a point.

    So next time you see a coach run the FG unit out on 4th and Goal from the 4, the fans "boo," and the announcer says, "The fans are booing, but the coach is making the right call," maybe the fans are right and the announcer is wrong. I would argue, depending on the situation, that you should hardly ever kick field goals within the 5 yard line. A coach may look dumb for going for it from the 5 and turning it over, but wouldn't you rather have a coach that used the statistics properly than one worrying about if people thought he was dumb?

    This effect, additionally, is larger when teams have better offenses than defenses (e.g. The Big 12).

    To go off on even more of a tangent, I would also like to see some stats for onside kicks. The one I remember from ISU last year (the KU game) was excellent. In the Big 12 where offenses > defenses, an increased number of onside kick attempts might not be such a bad idea.

    Thoughts?



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Last I checked points didn't go up on the scoreboard based on their probability of success.

    In this case, the possible 3.024 points by going for it on 4th and 5 from the 5 don't make it on the board unless you score.

    While I love this type of statsitcal analysis of the game it just does a poor job speaking to things like momentum.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    I think that if everyone went for it on 4th down in all these situations you would see the success rate go way down. There isn't nearly enough plays...

    I wonder if you looked at success rates for 3rd and 5 or less...then you would get a more accurate representation of what you would get on the 4th down.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by kucyclone View Post
    The post also has other stats to look at, such as this one: The success rate of a 4th and 5 is 43.2% (probably a little less near the goalline, but I don't have those stats).
    I would guess it is significantly less than 43.2%, since the field is effectively only 15 yards long at that point.

    Quote Originally Posted by kucyclone View Post
    So assuming you are at the 5 yard line on 4th down, your expected points by going for it are 3.024 (7 x .432), while your expected points by kicking can't be more than 3, and could be significantly less if your kicker is poor.
    You only get 6 points for TDs. You would need to figure the accuracy of PAT kicks and 2-point conversions to come up with a weighted average for a TD, which would likely be less than 7 points, since kicks are missed occasionally.

    It would take only a drop of a few % points in 4th down efficiency at the goal line to change the conclusion in favor of kicking the FG.

    Quote Originally Posted by kucyclone View Post
    So next time you see a coach run the FG unit out on 4th and Goal from the 4, the fans "boo," and the announcer says, "The fans are booing, but the coach is making the right call," maybe the fans are right and the announcer is wrong. I would argue, depending on the situation, that you should hardly ever kick field goals within the 5 yard line.
    This is not a wise conclusion since you don't know what the actual efficiency is on 4th and 5 from the 5, and there is a strong likelihood that it is less than the 43.2% mentioned above. Also, you haven't figured in the PAT effect as I pointed out above.

    Oh, and you might ask the Bears how that worked out from them against the Vikes last year in the game at the Dome...


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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by d4nim4l View Post
    Last I checked points didn't go up on the scoreboard based on their probability of success.

    In this case, the possible 3.024 points by going for it on 4th and 5 from the 5 don't make it on the board unless you score.
    Obviously. But over the course of the season, you would figure to have more points. I'm not saying this should be a definite rule. If you're down 2 or 3 points in the second half, you should take the FG. But in the 1st quarter in a tie game, you should probably go for it.

    Also, good point by superdorf that the probability of success would possibly go down as the number of times it was tried went up. I didn't think of that.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    I think it all depends on the situation, but I always like to go for it more often on 4th down inside the 10. Just for the fact that if you miss, you pin your opponent inside their 10. At least either A) early in the game or B) late in the game where another touchdown could put the game out of reach.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    With how awful our defense was last year, I was begging Chizik to go for it on pretty much every 4th down past midfield, unless it was 4th and 10 or more.

    His decision to punt in that situation at Baylor was inexplicable.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    If I'm only getting 3.024 points out a possible 7 or I'm getting slightly less than 3 points out of a possible 3, it still looks like a better (safer) bet to kick.


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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by cychhosis View Post
    If I'm only getting 3.024 points out a possible 7 or I'm getting slightly less than 3 points out of a possible 3, it still looks like a better (safer) bet to kick.
    You would rather, over the course of the season, get 2.9 points per try than 3.0 points per try? I didn't know Gene posted on CF.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    A lot of statistical analysis based on tons of data show that football coaches should be going for it a lot more on 4th down than they do. I remember reading an article about a HS team that never punted for an entire season and how well it worked. Obviously this doesn't apply to all situations but I would love to see us go for it a lot more.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by kucyclone View Post
    You would rather, over the course of the season, get 2.9 points per try than 3.0 points per try? I didn't know Gene posted on CF.
    If I'm getting points from nearly every time I'm inside the 10, I'm happier than if I only score 3/7 times I'm there.


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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by cychhosis View Post
    If I'm getting points from nearly every time I'm inside the 10, I'm happier than if I only score 3/7 times I'm there.

    If you have ISU's defense, you shouldn't be happy with 3 points on any trip inside the red zone. Teams only get 10 offensive possessions per game on average. Even if ISU scored a field goal on 9 of its 10 possessions in each game in 2008, we still would have went 2-10. That's how bad our defense was.

    Chizik had no clue about what it takes to win at ISU. The best example of that was the Texas A&M game. Sure, we didn't punt the entire game, but Chizik trotted Mahoney out there for four FG tries including three short ones. Yes, Mahoney made two of the four tries for six points, but Chizik gave up the possibility of scoring an additional 22 points.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by kucyclone View Post
    To go off on even more of a tangent, I would also like to see some stats for onside kicks. The one I remember from ISU last year (the KU game) was excellent. In the Big 12 where offenses > defenses, an increased number of onside kick attempts might not be such a bad idea.

    Thoughts?
    I don't know if i agree with this. A lot of times the kickoff team is mostly defensive players (backups). While the Onside recover team is offensive skill position players and some D backs. So i think the recovering team would have the advantage there.



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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    I somewhat agree with this, I do think Football coaches need to play the odds more/better, manage them much like the odds are managed in baseball.

    Until recently there were a lot of things in baseball that were thought to be the wise/safe play, such as when to exchange an out for advancing a runner, when in fact they weren't statistically speaking. That has changed in the last few decades.


    Last edited by herbicide; 08-25-2009 at 06:03 PM.

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    Re: Interesting Stats regarding 4th and short

    Quote Originally Posted by StLouisClone View Post
    If you have ISU's defense, you shouldn't be happy with 3 points on any trip inside the red zone. Teams only get 10 offensive possessions per game on average. Even if ISU scored a field goal on 9 of its 10 possessions in each game in 2008, we still would have went 2-10. That's how bad our defense was.

    Chizik had no clue about what it takes to win at ISU. The best example of that was the Texas A&M game. Sure, we didn't punt the entire game, but Chizik trotted Mahoney out there for four FG tries including three short ones. Yes, Mahoney made two of the four tries for six points, but Chizik gave up the possibility of scoring an additional 22 points.
    10 offensive possessions in a typical game. I wonder how many times out of those 10 possessions you get into the opponents redzone? I know for a fact that in the Iowa game last year we were in their redzone at LEAST 5 times... and of those 5 times... we scored a total of 3 points. 3 for 4 on FG attempts and one INT in the endzone. That's nearly impossible to come away with that few of points in 5 trips in the redzone.

    Obviously with hindsight being 20/20... I wish we would have went for it on each and every 4th down in Iowa's redzone last year. But then look at the year we beat Iowa with 5 FGs.... so who knows?



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