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Muda69

The High School Football Coach Who Never Punts

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https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-high-school-football-coach-who-never-punts/

Pulaski Academy football coach Kevin Kelley never punts. He always kicks on-side. His teams play … weirdly. Now the Arkansas squad is going back to Dallas to face its rival, Highland Park, a team that has won 84 games in a row at home and outplayed Pulaski Academy last year. Will Kelley’s data-driven plays lead to the win? The latest film in FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films’ short-documentary series Collectors, “Undefeated,” directed by Jamie Schutz, follows Pulaski as the team adds a new wrinkle to its playbook and tries to end Highland Park’s streak.

About an 11-minute "movie". Interesting. Are there any Indiana High School football coaches who are currently following this sort of philosophy?

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Adam Hudak at Lake Station... Every time I see him at a clinic he preaches about the numbers and percentages of punting.  Compelling points but I'm not drinking the koolaid.

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Pat Echeverria rarely punted at Eastern Hancock - usually only on 4th and long and/or deep in his own territory - and often on-side kicked. Not sure if he's still doing the same at Zionsville, as I've only seen his team play once since then, but he still had the propensity to go for it on 4th down when possible. 

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Why do you think they call it "football?"

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If a person quick kicks instead of punts, does that count as a punt or not?

 

I'm a big fan of the quick kick. Most QB's are athletic enough to do it justice.

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Not sure what this means but this past season we punted 22 times. 13 of those 22 times (59%), our opposition scored on that possession. When we punted, it only got us an average net yardage of 26.77 yards. 

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Not sure what this means but this past season we punted 22 times. 13 of those 22 times (59%), our opposition scored on that possession. When we punted, it only got us an average net yardage of 26.77 yards.

Did you ever go for it on 4th down, and if so what was your percentage of success in getting a first down?

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Not sure what the numbers are. I'd have to go back to look. To give a comparison, when we kicked off our opponents started on average -36 yard line and scored on that possession 27% of the time. When we punted, our opponents started on average at the -38 yard line and scored 59% of the time. I wonder if momentum wasn't a factor as well? Small school with the same kids playing on both sides. We kicked off because we had just scored, the kids are amped up after that and we have a good stand defensively. Just the opposite after we punt.

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17/36 on 4th down for the year. Never Punting Again!

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17/36 on 4th down for the year. Never Punting Again!

Almost 50%. Not bad.

How do you feel about the onside kick? :)

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 I don't know about that one. Getting 1 out of 3 might be worth it. They're getting it on the 36 anyway. You're trading in 12-14 yards for one extra possession a game. Probably a good deal.

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Didn't the recently resigned coach from Danville have this philosophy?

 

Yes.  I think the IndyStar did an article on him/that philosophy but I can't find it.

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That coach was at the Glazier clinic in Indy a couple years ago talking about this. It was interesting. The funny part is that he will say "we have the same type of kids y'all have", and will talk about individuals in key spots like "this guy is going to Clemson, this guy is going to Alabama, this guy is going to LSU, etc"....ummmm yeah, we all have those kids, right? :D

 

I do know the previous coach at Eastern Hancock used this philosophy. I have no statistics from them; maybe one of their fans could add those?

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I'm a big fan of the quick kick. Most QB's are athletic enough to do it justice.

Monrovia, at least for the last couple of years, has had the situation that their running back is the primary punter, making for a nice punt or fake or quick kick, but we went for it on fourth down a lot.  I've even witnessed the quick kick being used in a third and forever situation, worked pretty well as their was no one deep to cover.

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Almost 50%. Not bad.

How do you feel about the onside kick? :)

 

Mount Vernon (Fortville) had a kicker about 15 years ago who could kick the ball right into the ground and make it pop about 40 feet into the air. They did this on every kickoff and I think successfully recovered about 50% of the time.

 

I think, especially in high school, having possession is more important than field position. Often when a team scores in high school, it comes off of a very long play ... teams don't drive the ball 15 plays, 80 yards. Even on long drives there is usually a long play, so in my opinion the probability of an offense scoring from the 50 or (-25) isn't statistically that different. I have to statistics to back this up. Just observation

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My son is the STC at a D2 school.  He has broken down the numbers.  I will ask him to send me his stats.  Apparently, it's all about what the coaching staffs consider to acceptable numbers.

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I was at the Glazier clinic where Coach Kelley spoke, and while I did find his speech interesting, there are a couple issues with his philosophy IMO. First of all Pulaski is dominant on offense and defense. As someone said above he's got kids going to major D1 schools left and right. During his presentation he mentioned that his offense averaged 54 points a game. My friend asked the coach "would you be able to justify being this risky on special teams if your team didn't average 54 points a game?" to which he replied "I'm never going to have a team that doesn't average 54 points a game". Not exactly the answer we were looking for. What it comes down to is that this guy has a great team and he can get away with just about anything he wants and win games. New Palestine and LCC could probably not punt the entire year and onside kick after every score and still have gone to state, doesn't necessarily mean it is a proven method. All that being said, I did find some validity in what he said about coaches being too conservative and I loved the idea that he was willing to look at the sport with a skeptical mind and challenge the norms.

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I've always been intrigued by this philosophy, but also feel that to take the risk with such an unorthodox approach and make it work you probably need to be at a school like Pulaski that's really, really good or at a program that has been historically very, very bad.

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I've always been intrigued by this philosophy, but also feel that to take the risk with such an unorthodox approach and make it work you probably need to be at a school like Pulaski that's really, really good or at a program that has been historically very, very bad.

Why for a program that's very very bad?

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Why for a program that's very very bad?

Nothing to lose. Why not try it if your program has never had success with a more traditional approach.

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Nothing to lose. Why not try it if your program has never had success with a more traditional approach.

Good point.

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