That Won't Work in College Ball!

Kevin Kelleys 1st Game at Presbyterian College
QB starting first game throws for 10 TDS,
Total Offense 800 Yards
84 pts
No Punts
Ok, he did kick for 5 extra points
Ok, it was an NAIA team they beat

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They move up in competition this week, a little. Playing the University of Fort Lauderdale which is D-2. They finally play an FCS team in week 3 when they visit the Fighting Camels of Campbell.

I didn’t realize Presbyterian stopped giving football scholarships and dropped out of the Big South Conference for football. They play in the Pioneer League which is an FCS non-scholarship league. Muss’ alma mater, San Diego, is also in the Pioneer League; they play in October (talk about conference sprawl).

Don’t much care what Kevin Kelley does now. He’s out of Arkansas. I do care what the new coach at PA does because he actually played at Arkansas and he’s a great guy! It was really nice what Madison Ridgeland had to say about the sportsmanship of the PA organization, down to the cheerleaders and the band.

Regardless of where he is, it’s going to be interesting to see if Kelleyball works at the college level. That’s my main interest. I have no fondness for PA, old or new coach. I don’t wish Lucas ill, just really don’t care.

He didn’t have scholarships at PA either. Wink wink. Interesting that Ren Helfley is his QB. Didn’t Ren leave the PA program to play at Bryant? I think he then spent a couple of years quarterbacking the scout team at Meeechigan.

I’d be curious if he successfully used insides kickoffs after each score.

I’m not ready to concede his never punt always use onside kicks will work at even the level Presbo plays until I see it work against comparable competition.

I anticipate Lucas builds some bridges with the rest of the high school coaches. That’s something Kelley was never going to do.

Maybe he works his way up to big time D1 ball. Who knows. But until I see that stuff work at a high level of competitiveness my jury is out on it.

I’m like to know how many times they on side kicked too.

Someone (I think Anthony Lucas) tweeted that KK plans to punt this year (which didn’t happen when he was at PA). However, they never had a punting situation yesterday.

PC tried 10 onside kicks, recovering one. The one they recovered was the opening kickoff.

That’s a telling stat. If his opponent was any good that 9-1 ratio would’ve gotten his team badly beaten. Interesting to see he punted some yesterday, too.

Seriously, does anyone think 100% on-sides kicks would work against college level competition? I suppose it wouldn’t matter if it’s as easy to go 75-80 yards as 45-50, but most teams play some level of defense

Kelley’s decisions to not punt and always kick onsides were based on statistics, not a personal preference. If those statistics point to the same for the level of college football he’s at right now, he’ll continue. If not, I’m sure he’ll adjust somewhat.

Uh, Chip, they didn’t punt. They don’t even list a punter on the roster.

I based that on the quote from Lucas. Yeah, scoring 80 points doesn’t suggest a need to punt. Bet that changes when he’s 4th and 25 unless his teams play no defense

The Campbell game will be interesting. Campbell is actually less than a two hour drive from me, but I don’t think I’m that curious to drive up there and watch.

I don’t doubt he’ll change. I also don’t doubt he has stats to back up what he did. However, it’s one thing to never punt when your average small high school punter can’t kick it more than 25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. It’s another when a decent college punter can flip the field.

Same with on side kicks.

The best coaches in pro and college football would be doing what Kelly is if it worked at their level. I suppose I could be wrong and Kelly is the Einstein of football that nobody else appreciates and are afraid to emulate, but I think more likely he took advantage of having players who practiced together a lot against teams with limited talent who hadn’t.

I agree it gets tougher to play this way at higher levels of football, but it’d be interesting to see just where the statistics flip to saying you should punt or not onside kick.

Thing is, those decisions are not independent variables. You also have to take into account what happens after those decisions. If you decide not to punt, you gain an extra down. It’s easier to gain 10 yards on 4 downs than 3. Wouldn’t matter much if your punter could kick it 5 yards or 65 yards, your decision is based on whether or not you think you can earn a first down with that extra play.

There were a couple times yesterday that show both sides. On the possession before Rice’s touchdown, the Hogs had a 4th and 4 from their own 16 yard line. We punt for 25 yards, Rice goes and scores a TD. Would we have got a first down had we gone for it on 4th? Don’t know, but the result afterwards couldn’t have been any worse had we not. If you look at averages, they suggest we could have got a first down (KJ was 12-21 for 128 yards, meaning he gets 4 yards over 50% of the time; the running game averaged 5.6 yards per carry for the game). On the possession before Rice’s second TD, we tried to run a QB sneak on 4th and 2. KJ gets stuffed and Rice scores 2 plays later. Would they have scored anyway if we punted the ball down the field?

The problem with most 4th down plays is the play-calling. Trying to get a guy to run up the middle with 16 guys in a big cluster just doesn’t seem that smart to me. Just run a regular play.

Nobody knows if it will work at their level because nobody’s had the cojones to try it. It’s easy to do what everybody else does, but if you go out there on a limb you risk getting it sawed off behind you. Spread offenses are the thing now, but 30 years ago they were as daring as Kelleyball is now. But a few people took the gamble (including Gus), it worked, and the copycats piled on.

Bottom line is it was going to take a Kelley to try this at a higher level. It’s not even widespread in Arkansas high schools because nobody else is brave enough to copy it even at that level. If you try it and it doesn’t work, the first thing you hear is “you idiot” and the second is “you’re fired”. Easier to go with the crowd.

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Of course it’s based on variable factors. That’s the point. It’s one thing to go for it on 4th and 1 from midfield and quite another to go for it on 4th and 15 inside your 20. Kelly doesn’t make that distinction. Or at least he didn’t at PA. That’s what “never punts” means.

Same with onside kicks. It’s sensible to try it when you can catch the other team off guard and your the team that must gamble to have a chance to win. It’s also sensible when you’re down on the scoreboard and it’s very late in the game. But to do it every time, including times when the other team is expecting it and you do it every time. That’s what Kelly did at PA.

I’m betting he won’t do that at the college level unless his opponents are not much better than small high school teams. Wonder why no P5 or NFL coach does it? For that matter, I don’t know of any college or pro coach who does. Kelly will either 1. change, 2. start getting his butt beat, or 3. prove he’s the only coach who has figured it out. My money is on 1 or 2

I just answered that. Because no one has the intestinal fortitude. They all have access to the same numbers Kevin Kelley does, but “that ain’t how the game is played.” And it will stay that way until someone proves the other way works. So far, nobody has had the courage to try. Until KK. Maybe he succeeds, maybe he doesn’t, but I give him credit for the courage of his convictions. He may go down, but he won’t go down punting.

I don’t think that’s it. It’s because they know it won’t work against good athletes. KK is getting something of a chance to prove me and everyone else wrong. I say “something of a chance” because I’m not sure Presbyterian College is much of a step up from PA.