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Coach A’s Clinic: In praise of going for it on fourth down

Posted at 6:01 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 19:46:01-04

Paul Alexander, the voice of “Thursday Night High School Football,” provides us with his weekly installment of “Coach A’s Clinic” with a primer on the pros and cons of going for it on fourth down

Traditional conventional football offenses can be as predictable as a chorus line.   You know…”1, 2, 3, kick!”

But what if an offense wasn’t predictable?

Or what if it was totally predictable…but in a radical way?

“They’re gonna go for it! Both of these coaches keep going for it on 4th down!”

The football gods blessed offenses with four downs.  But we usually only use three of them. Does that seem like a waste to you?

It does to statisticians who have run the numbers on this.

If a team went for it every time on fourth down, regardless of the score, regardless of field position, they’d come out way ahead over time.

There are a couple of high school coaches in the country who do that…and they’ve been big winners. A dude like that in Arkansas has won 6 state championships!  Oh, and this same guy  tries for an onside kick after every score.

Think about how this could impact play calling.  If you know that you have four downs to work with…you only need 2 and a half yards per play.   You can commit to the running game..but you can also throw when you want to instead  just when you have to.   And you can keep the ball…as Lionel Ritchie once said…. “All night long!”

The numbers are clear. A team that goes for it on every fourth down would come out way ahead over the course of a season.

Way ahead.

But..admittedly..a couple of times a year it would blow up in your face in a close game at a critical time.

Then, the next year you might be selling insurance…

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.