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OwnTheLine
(@owntheline)
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An article in this months American Football Monthly started me thinking on the (and some of this post is quoted directly from there)

I don't have good statistics on our punts, but have been looking at a couple of studies from both the high school level and the NFL level on punts.  Here are some interesting statistics:
In both the NFL and HS, the average for successful 4th down conversions is about 50%.  Now, those results are skewed, because most teams would go for it on 4 and 1, few would go for it on 4th and 15.  BUT, there is a HS in Little Rock that has crunched the numbers, and completely did away with their punt team (they go for it EVERY time) and they convert more than 50%.

Here's the rationale:
The average HS punt play will push the opponent back 30 yards (cut that at least in half for our kids).  From the offense's 10 yard line, the opposing offense has a 77% likelihood of scoring after a punt.  If the offense goes for it on 4th down, and misses, the opposing offense has a 92% chance of scoring.  So, it's only a 15% differential.  Also, if you've got a 50% chance of converting, that drops it to a 7 1/2% difference.  That's a chance I'm willing to take to keep my offense on the field.  Here's another interesting statistic - when this Little Rock team converted on 4th down, they scored 84% of the time.  Some of this is psychological, if you convert on 4th, the defense gets frustrated, lets down, etc...  while at the same time, the offense is energized, because they just won another major battle in the war.

From an offensive standpoint, if I know I've got 4 plays to get 10 yards rather than 3, it changes how I call plays.  3rd and 7 is no longer an automatic passing down.  Here is a direct quote from a Defensive coordinator that played against this team: 

"As a DC, I always get a great feeling when our team stops our opponent on 3rd down and we know we'll get the ball back.  But it scares you to death when you know they're going to go for it on 4th down and it's really deflating when they make it...when they convert a fourth down, it's almost as if they've scored on us."

I think early on, our no huddle will be HUGE for this, they will be looking for a punt, trying to figure out how to line up, and we just come at them.

It's also one less special team we have to practice.

I absolutely hate to punt.  But I don't know if I have the huevos to go for it on 4th down deep in my own territory.

What do you guys think?

BTW, I am the HC, my DC thinks it's a bad idea.  We are a 6th grade team. 


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CoachKenB
(@coachkenb)
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We punted 2 times last year and not in a league game.  Both times in a tournament game which we were getting spanked by their defense and I knew we would not get the first down (playing against 30 man tournament team with 4 different color helmets).  I liked my odds better with my defense  (DC46) than my offense.

I prefer not to kick a ball to the opponents best player. 

Ken

You can observe a lot just by watching.
-- Yogi Berra


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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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I have found that on 4th and long deep in your own end...it may be wise to just run outta the back of the enzone...reboot and take the free kick...and get some field position back.

This works especailly well the younger the kids are.

Coach Mike

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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DumCoach
(@dumcoach)
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I have viewed this four different ways:

1) I have punted on others
2) I have not punted on others
3) I have had other not punt on me
4) I have mathematically calculated the punt

I have punted on others: I have done this numerous times where the punt is for automatic yardage (8 year olds, 15 yards).  And where do I do this?  On the other guy's 16 yard line.  The theory is known as "Field Position Football" and it has been researched every bit as much as the "Never Punt" theory.  You put the guy on his own 1.  He can't get out.  Rather than give back the ball to you on his own 20 (For my 89% chance of a TD), he goes for it on 4th down.  My ball.  Eight yards later, I have my TD.  I have never lost a game against a coach who has a policy of not punting where automatic punts are allowed.  I just field position him to death.

I have not punted on others: Without a guaranteed 15 yard walked off punt and where I actually have to boot the ball, I am not inclined to punt.  I had two negative experiences on this, both arising from having great punters.  In both, I had the winner of the PPK contest as my punter.  We were going to get off a 40 yard boot every time.  In the first bad experience, I found myself punting to a future, all conference, HS running back.  I had no idea he was that good then but I learned it afterwards.  He ran every single punt back for a TD.  They beat me in a game in which their offense never scored.  The second experience was when my opponent put TWO running backs back for the punt.  I knew what was going to happen (one blocking for the other), called a time out, and had the punter boot it out of bounds.  The idea of booting the ball, even with the league's best punter, lost its appeal.

I have had others not punt to me:  I discovered I didn't like this two different ways (When field position football is removed).  In one game I put a wishbone team in 4th and 4 SEVEN TIMES and they picked up every single one and put up 28 points for it.  The clock time they consumed was enormous.  My defense was on the field the whole game (Their longest play of the game was 7 yards.).  I learned what DW coaches dish out.  They never punted and I got beat.  The other experience occured when I was using "DC Punt Block" and we blocked about 80% of our opponents punts over the season and, of the 20% we didn't block, we returned all but one punt back to the original LOS.  What happened?  My opponents stopped punting and went for it on 4th down.  And guess what?  They got the first down about 50% of the time just like OwntheLine said.  I gave up more first downs on fourth than I did on first, second, and third combined (I am convinced defenders have something happen in their heads when 4th down comes up and the other team goes for it.).  So I went from getting the ball back 100% of the time to only 50% of the time.  And if they do get that first down, your defense does get DEFLATED just like OwntheLine says.  Unless you can "Field Position Football" the non-punting coach, he's going to take away more from your offense than he gives you.

I have mathematically calculated the Punt:  I keep a sideline record of down and distance and play call.  So when I get in 4th down, I just look at the chart for the yards we need, add one more yard to it for "insurance" and call the play on the chart that produces it.  So there's no punt.  In 17 years, the number of times I have been stopped short of the first down is exactly two times (And film shows I got one of those two.).  If there is no play on the chart that will go the required distance, I call "DC Punt" which can't be returned by one future HS star or any two studs waiting for it, but which can get you a first down if they try. 

So while the "No Punt" policy works against almost all coaches, it doesn't necessarily work against me.  If you play me with "no punt", I will play "field position football" back and punt you to your own 5 yard line every chance I get.  Then I'll force you to get conservative and try and "no punt" your way out.  The odds are least 50-50 It's my ball on your 10 and I'm going to get at least two TD drives of only 10 yards each in the game.  That's tough to beat.  And the other less than 50% where you do make the first?  Well!  You still have 90 yards to go to score.  😀 

But I'd like to see why defenses fall apart on 4th down 50% of the time.  That's the study I'd be interested in.  :'(

"Football is for the kids - But let's win anyway."


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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"I have punted on others: I have done this numerous times where the punt is for automatic yardage (8 year olds, 15 yards).  And where do I do this?  On the other guy's 16 yard line.  The theory is known as "Field Position Football" and it has been researched every bit as much as the "Never Punt" theory.  You put the guy on his own 1.  He can't get out.  Rather than give back the ball to you on his own 20 (For my 89% chance of a TD), he goes for it on 4th down.  My ball.  Eight yards later, I have my TD.  I have never lost a game against a coach who has a policy of not punting where automatic punts are allowed.  I just field position him to death."

Exactly.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
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"If you play me with "no punt", I will play "field position football" back and punt you to your own 5 yard line every chance I get.  Then I'll force you to get conservative and try and "no punt" your way out.  The odds are least 50-50 It's my ball on your 10 and I'm going to get at least two TD drives of only 10 yards each in the game.  That's tough to beat.  And the other less than 50% where you do make the first?  Well!  You still have 90 yards to go to score."

That's pretty much how it works.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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OwnTheLine
(@owntheline)
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Great stuff DC.  Where would I find this "DC Punt Block"???

Thanks


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KFMagee
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I have punted ONCE in 5 years... my 5th grade team 2 years ago was winning a game by 6 points late in the 4th quarter, and we had the ball on our own 5 on a 4th and long... so I punted and got a net 20 yards, puttin them on my 25 with abouta minute to play.  Won the game with the ball on my 10 yardline a few plays later.

We take the mindset for the entire game that "I need 2.5 yards per play"...not 3.4 as most 3-down coaches think.  I'm not very flashy - I love a 36 Dive, 35 lead, and 26 counter... then I either run another dive or QB sneak to get my next series.  Our GOAL in a 32 minute game is to own 22 minutes of the clock.... and we usually do come close to that.

Punting in youth league is too risky, even with a frozen line  - getting off a 25 yard punt, kicking the ball to my opponents best open field runner is gonna come back at least 10-12 yards... so all I gain net is about 10 yards.  Unless I have a really tight game with just seconds left, I'm either going to step out of my endzone (if I can spare 2 points) or I'm going to run a play, and get that first down 2/3rds of the time.  I have gone for it on 4th and 15 and ripped off a 70 yard TD run ...and if you go to youtube you can watch it at the 1:47 mark on this video.... 

Coach Magee

PSO- Youth Rec League (2nd - 8th)
Wishbone & 45 Gritz Blitz


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DumCoach
(@dumcoach)
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Great stuff DC.  Where would I find this "DC Punt Block"???

Thanks

It's in the DC Wing T manual or you can site search for it here.

"Football is for the kids - But let's win anyway."


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Y'know, it's interesting when youth coaches talk about how few times they've punted.  "I've never punted!"  "I've only punted x number of times!" etc.  The fact of the matter is that in youth ball most guys don't punt (well) and prefer to play the game between the 40s.  Then they brag about about few times they've punted.  NOT punting in youth football is not a great accomplishment; it's standard operating procedure for most coaches.  I didn't punt once in my first six years as a HC (and I hope no one's impressed by that).  But I have since found the value of the punt and we've become good at it.

NOT punting against an inferior opponent is no big deal.  Punting against a team of equal or superior talent can win you the game.  I've seen too many equally matched youth teams with equally matched youth talent and equally matched coaches play out the duration of a game between each other's 40-yard lines, where one punt would have had those teams playing between the 10 and the 30.  In an equally matched game with your opponent inside their own 20 gives you a tremendous advantage.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CowboyCoach
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Y'know, it's interesting when youth coaches talk about how few times they've punted.  "I've never punted!"  "I've only punted x number of times!" etc.  The fact of the matter is that in youth ball most guys don't punt (well) and prefer to play the game between the 40s.  Then they brag about about few times they've punted.  NOT punting in youth football is not a great accomplishment; it's standard operating procedure for most coaches.  I didn't punt once in my first six years as a HC (and I hope no one's impressed by that).  But I have since found the value of the punt and we've become good at it.

NOT punting against an inferior opponent is no big deal.  Punting against a team of equal or superior talent can win you the game.  I've seen too many equally matched youth teams with equally matched youth talent and equally matched coaches play out the duration of a game between each other's 40-yard lines, where one punt would have had those teams playing between the 10 and the 30.  In an equally matched game with your opponent inside their own 20 gives you a tremendous advantage.

--Dave

Agreed.  We always work on it even if we're unlikely to do it.  Some seasons we're less inclined to punt because of the quality of our punt team and others more inclined to.  The two times I've punted over the last few years was a game like you describe, a defensive battle where neither team could move the ball.  One punt got us out of our own end and changed the field position to the middle of the field.  The second put us in our opponent's end for the entire second half, because they wouldn't or couldn't punt.  We won 6-0 in the waning minutes.

That said, I wouldn't begrudge a coach for deciding it's not worth his practice time to spend time preparing to do something he might do once in two or three years.  Last year it was evident at the outset that we had no punter and our coverage was subpar so we made the choice not to punt at the beginning.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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"We always work on it even if we're unlikely to do it."

--As do we.  We also punt in games where it's not needed (4th & 3, up by 14, ball at mid-field), just to stay sharp.  There's plenty of times where the punt isn't needed, but we still implement it.

"One punt got us out of our own end and changed the field position to the middle of the field.  The second put us in our opponent's end for the entire second half, because they wouldn't or couldn't punt.  We won 6-0 in the waning minutes."

--Interesting how valuable yet overlooked it is.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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ZACH
 ZACH
(@bucksweep58)
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We punt from 4th and 6 and more.  unless we cannot punt (ie the punter is god aufull) to which we run a base play killing as much clock as possible unless we passed the previous 3rd down.  In that situation we align in a a-11 formation on punt this usually burns a timeout for the other team, now they freak out and try to adjust and i just come back with a generic punt...we either shift and punt or just punt from a-11.  We also have 3 fakes, 2 passes and 1 run.

In the championship game last season which we lost we went on every 4th down and like you all said got half of them.

Im more inclined to punt for somereason on the opponents half then my own, always been that way. 1st and ten on your own 10 yard line or worse is crazy tough in youth football.

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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Dusty Ol Fart
(@youth-coach)
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There is no question in my mind that if all things are equal I am going to force you to beat me on the longest field possible.  However, I will not punt one bit inside the opponents 30 to 35 simply because Murphy's Law indicates that any punt will be a shank or a touch back where by I only gain 10 or 15 yards by punting.  On 4th and 10 if I gain 5 I am only losing 5 yards by not punting.

Anything beyond that I am calling it based on game situations and time

Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  🙂


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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"I will not punt one bit inside the opponents 30 to 35 simply because Murphy's Law indicates that any punt will be a shank or a touch back where by I only gain 10 or 15 yards by punting."

Shad, we had a kid who would punt it 33 yards and angle it out of bounds (no returns).  We would punt on 4th & 1 on our opponent's 40 yard line and have them take over inside their 10.  We played a game where our opponent never took over possession past their own 20 and because they didn't punt, we took over on their side of the field on every change of downs.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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