Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An off-the-wall recommendation for Texas' new offensive coordinator

Texas head coach Mack Brown has yet to ask my advice as he searches for a new offensive coordinator and there's a good chance he will not consult me on this matter. I say that only because Mighty Mack has never consulted me on anything. In fact, I've never even met the man.

But that's not going to stop me from offering my suggestions on whom he should choose to guide Texas' offense. One of these choices is going to come from beyond the end zone.

But first, let me offer up a not-so-strange choice and that's Josh Daniels, the just-disposed head coach of the Denver Broncos. Daniels has proved two things in his last two coaching stints. With the Denver Broncos, he proved he was not ready at this time to be a head coach. With the New England Patriots, he proved he is one superb offensive coordinator. Plus, I am convinced that having on the staff the coach who developed Patriot quarterback Tom Brady would be a great recruiting tool for the Longhorns.

My second choice, Kevin Kelley (pictured), the head football coach of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., may seem a tad bizarre. But I love his innovative approach to the game which centers on the notion that the dumbest play in football is the punt. His teams never punt. I'm not even sure he has a "punter" on his team. Kelley is a numbers freak. He plots and studies percentages. And here, in his own words, is what he's discovered:

"If you look at the percentages of where we are going to score touchdowns from on the football field, or the percentages of where your opponent can score from, and put it in perspective, you can see some of the reasons we do this. For instance, if we go for it on fourth down on our opponents 10 yard line, and don't convert, percentages say they will score a touchdown 92% of the time. So lets say we punt the ball out to the 40 yard line, and they return it and we give it to them at the 35 yard line, percentages say they will score a touchdown 77% of the time, so there is a 15% difference there, where I have a 50% chance of making it on fourth down, so I like my chances of making it on fourth down, and I think it increases your chances of winning football games.

When you decide not to punt on fourth down, it is a philosophy where you have to think about the entire game. When you run this type of offense, it changes your offensive philosophy, but at the same time, it changes the opposing defenses philosophy as well. A lot of times in games, the defense will stop a team on third down, and know they got the ball back, against us, they have to stop us on fourth down as well, so that changes how the defense has to think in the game.

To us, a 3rd and 7 is like 2nd and 7 to a normal team because we are not worried about getting the first down all in one play. We want to move the ball, and if we get the first down, then great, but if not, we will go for it on fourth down and try to pick it up there. It makes defenses have to prepare differently as well. Plus the mindset it gives your offense after converting on fourth down is almost like when your team creates a turnover, it pumps your team up while deflating the opponent at the same time.

It also takes pressure off of your offense on third down, and we condition our kids not to be under pressure on fourth down, so it takes a bit off of our players as well by them not having to worry about converting on third down. If we condition our kids to not feel pressure by going for it on fourth down, and they see that they can convert throughout the year, then it takes the pressure off of them, and puts it on the defense when we go for it on fourth down. It changes the defenses thought process, it changes their game plan, and it makes them act a little bit differently, so all of those things go into this philosophy."

And what are the results of Kelley's unorthodox approach? Kelley's record at Pulaski is 68-13-1 with two state championships at the 5A level, Arkansas' largest. That's a winning percentage of 83%. I'll take that any day.

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