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    Let's just not punt!

    With all the anxiety over our punter position, maybe we should adopt the 'no punt philosophy' that's making a high school in Arkansas famous. They've been incredibly successful with it. Greg Easterbrook of ESPN has a very interesting article about it: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/071113

    Below is a portion of his article:


    There's a high school in Arkansas that has made the most significant football innovation we've seen since the veer option. This high school is tearing up its state and is on the verge of revolutionizing the way football is played. TMQ suspects that within a few years, the phrase "Pulaski theory" will be as widely known as the phrase "shotgun spread." In a copycat sport, Pulaski Academy of Little Rock has devised an offensive philosophy that is genuinely new, and it's winning games left and right.




    Pulaski Academy does not punt.




    I first heard about Pulaski from Peter Giovannini of Morrilton, Ark., a high school football official who wrote me to report in astonishment that he had just worked a conference championship game in which the winning team never punted, even going for a first down on fourth-and-6 from its own 5-yard line early in the game. "As a devotee of TMQ, I thought you might like to know at least one coach in the vast football universe has experienced the epiphany and refuses to punt the ball away," Giovannini wrote.



    That team was Pulaski -- 9-1-1 after having just won its opening-round game in the Arkansas 5A playoffs. Coach Kevin Kelley reports that he stopped punting in 2005 -- after reading an academic study on the statistical consequences of going for the first down versus handing possession to the other team, plus reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback's relentless examples of when punting backfires but going for the first down works. In 2005, Pulaski reached the state quarterfinals by rarely punting. In 2006, Pulaski reached the state championship game, losing by one point -- and in the state championship game, Pulaski never punted, converting nine of 10 fourth-down attempts. Since the start of the 2006 season, Pulaski has had no punting unit and never practices punts. This year, Pulaski has punted just twice, both times when leading by a large margin and trying to hold down the final score. In its playoff victory Friday night, Pulaski did not punt, converting three of four fourth-down tries.



    "They give you four downs, not three," Kelley told TMQ. "You should take advantage. Suppose we had punted from our own 5. The odds are the opposition will take over at about the 35, and from there the stats say they have an 80 percent chance of scoring. So even if you only have a 50 percent chance of converting the first down, isn't that better than giving the other side an 80 percent chance of scoring?" For fourth-and-short attempts, the odds of converting are a lot better than 50 percent.



    As TMQ endlessly notes, NFL teams convert about 75 percent of fourth-and-1 tries. Yet highly paid professional coaches endlessly send in the punt unit on fourth-and-1, handing a scoring opportunity to the opposition. In the 2006 edition of my annual don't-punt column, I summarized the odds this way: "Nearly three-quarters of fourth-and-1 attempts succeed, while around one-third of possessions result in scores. Think about those fractions. Go for it four times on fourth-and-1: Odds are you will keep the ball three times, and three kept possessions each with a one-third chance of a score results in your team scoring once more than it otherwise would have. Punt the ball on all four fourth-and-1s, and you've given the opponents three additional possessions. (It would have gotten one possession anyway when you missed one of your fourth-and-1s.) Those three extra possessions, divided by the one-third chance to score, give the opponent an extra score."



    Kelley says that when he began to shun the punt, people thought he was crazy: "It's like brainwashing, people believe you are required to punt." Players and the home crowd needed to get acclimated to it. "When we first started going on every fourth down," he says, "our home crowd would boo and the players would be distressed. You need to become accustomed to the philosophy and buy into the idea. Now our crowd and our players expect us to go for it, and get excited when no punting team comes onto the field. When my 10-year-old son sees NFL teams punting on short yardage on television, he gets upset because he's grown up with the idea that punting is usually bad."



    Preparing the players for the no-punting future of football is a practical concern. If a coach unexpectedly kept his offense in on fourth down in his own territory, and failed to convert, the crowd would boo and the defensive players become demoralized. If the defensive players understood that a no-punting philosophy occasionally would hand great field position to the other side but overall would keep the other side off the field, they would buy into the idea. Imagine, in turn, the demoralizing effect on the opposition if its defense stops its opponent after three downs, only to realize that no punt will follow. For the 2007 edition of my anti-punting column, the stats service AccuScore did thousands of computer simulations based on 2006 NFL games and found that, on average, rarely punting added one point per game to the score of the teams that didn't punt, while not adding any points to their opponents' final scores. Computer simulations showed that rarely punting amounted to roughly one additional victory per season at the NFL level. At the college and high school levels, the bonus might be even higher.



    Why do coaches punt on fourth-and-short -- and worse, when trailing or in opposition territory? "Most punting is so the coach can avoid criticism," says Kelley, who has coached Pulaski for five years and got his start in high school coaching in football-crazed Texas. "If you go for it and fail, the first question in the postgame press conference will be, 'Aren't you to blame for losing the game because you didn't punt?' If the coach orders a punt, the media will blame the defense."

    TMQ has always speculated that the desire to shift blame explains why big-college and NFL coaches send in the punting team. But take note, these days, the media and the postgame news conference are factors even at the high school level.



    Pulaski Academy is providing real-world evidence of the future of football. The most important innovation in years is being field-tested by the Pulaski Bruins, and the test is going quite well. But don't just take Kelley's word for it.

    The decisive snap of Illinois' upset of No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday came when the Illini, leading 28-21 with six minutes remaining, went for it on fourth-and-1 in their own territory. Sports radio generally called this a huge gamble. Actually, it was playing the percentages; Illinois converted and held the ball for the remainder of the game. Had Illinois boomed a punt, the Buckeyes would have been in business.



  2. #2
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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    That would really look bad if we didnt punt when we are blowing teams out. I dont think Iowa, Nebby, OU, and Texas would like it very much.


    PUT TILLER IN!!!!!

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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Let's not post stupid ideas on CF.

    Thank you. That is all.



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Yay for repeat threads!!! Or at least repeated topics of discussion!

    Anyway, this tactic wouldn't work after the high school level where, for the most part, defenses and offenses are usually good enough where field position actually matters. And if they aren't that good, then usually you would be beating them by enough where the not punting tactic just comes off as bad sportsmanship.

    Quote Originally Posted by CycloneNC2015 View Post
    That would really look bad if we didnt punt IF we are blowing teams out. I dont think Iowa, Nebby, OU, and Texas would like it very much.
    Also, corrected that for ya!



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    didn't i post this a few weeks ago? (slight sarcasm)



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    This isn't the worst punting idea I've ever heard. My father in law thinks that you should punt on 3rd down every time.



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Quote Originally Posted by dualthreat View Post
    didn't i post this a few weeks ago? (slight sarcasm)
    Someone did. Also it was posted about a year ago. guess news doesnt get around as fast as it used to.


    Hooray for Metaphors!

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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Quote Originally Posted by edr247 View Post
    Yay for repeat threads!!! Or at least repeated topics of discussion!

    Anyway, this tactic wouldn't work after the high school level where, for the most part, defenses and offenses are usually good enough where field position actually matters. And if they aren't that good, then usually you would be beating them by enough where the not punting tactic just comes off as bad sportsmanship.
    So you're saying field position is more important than possession of the ball? In order to put them in "worse" field position, you have to give up on trying to advance to a score yourself and decide to give the other team a chance to score. Isn't the point to, um, score? I understand that it's more difficult for the opponent to score from farther away, but it's even more difficult than that to score while on defense (unless their quarterback is Ricky Stanzi, in which case you'd want your defense on the field all game).


    You can spend a lot of time and money picking out the perfect floral bouquet for your date ... but you're probably better off checking if you have bad breath and taking the porn out of the glove compartment.

    The moral: you gain more by not being stupid, than you do by being smart. Smart gets neutralized by other smart people. Stupid does not.

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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Quote Originally Posted by CyFever View Post
    This isn't the worst punting idea I've ever heard. My father in law thinks that you should punt on 3rd down every time.
    Well, at least the defense wouldn't expect it and you could hope the ball would roll inside the 5 since no one is there to field it.


    You can spend a lot of time and money picking out the perfect floral bouquet for your date ... but you're probably better off checking if you have bad breath and taking the porn out of the glove compartment.

    The moral: you gain more by not being stupid, than you do by being smart. Smart gets neutralized by other smart people. Stupid does not.

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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    I do think this would work best as a situational strategy.

    For example, it would probably work best for a team whose offense is much better than their defense. If punting from the 30 and in from your own territory is likely to result in the opponent scoring anyway, there isn't any good reason to give them the ball without a fight.

    However, if you have a pretty stout defense, it doesn't make much sense to risk giving the other team a short field. Especially in college, where some offenses struggle to sustain long drives.



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Quote Originally Posted by CyFever View Post
    This isn't the worst punting idea I've ever heard. My father in law thinks that you should punt on 3rd down every time.
    Tell him to stop watching the CFL.



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Quote Originally Posted by CycloneNC2015 View Post
    That would really look bad if we didnt punt when we are blowing teams out. I dont think Iowa, Nebby, OU, and Texas would like it very much.
    Good one!! I love it!!



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Wow, I've never read anything about this before when it's been posted on a bi-weekly basis for the past three years. Fascinating!



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    Quote Originally Posted by Senolcyc View Post
    Wow, I've never read anything about this before when it's been posted on a bi-weekly basis for the past three years. Fascinating!

    Thanks, Senolcyc. I am equally fascinated by the two threads that you've started during all the time you have posted on Cyclonefanatic.

    I just thought this topic was interesting to re-visit because of all the recent threads about anxiety with our punting position. I apologize for boring you.



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    Re: Let's just not punt!

    If we were punting into a 40 mph wind, we might go for it.


    CFH HMagic bball season next year.
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