Rocky Long is single-handedly trying to interest me in watching Mountain West football.

One of college football’s greatest charms for me is its variety.  Unlike the NFL, which seems to be all about variations on a strategic theme, there are all kinds of offensive and defensive schemes clawing for supremacy on the college level.  There’s a greater willingness to explore different ways to skin the cat.  Some of that is due to the greater number of teams; some of that is due to a greater disparity in talent.  But in any event, the result is fun.

So, all I can say about this news is – just do it, Rocky.

After reading articles about an idiosyncratic Arkansas high school coach who never punts, always onside kicks, and has tremendous success doing it, Long is toying with the idea for his Aztecs of no punts or field goal attempts once they’ve driven inside an opponent’s 50-yard line.

Conceivably, San Diego State would go for the first down whether it needed a couple of inches or 10 yards.

And yes, Long — who apparently hasn’t yet tried it all in his 40 years of coaching — is serious about this.

“It makes sense,” he said, seeming almost giddy in talking about the possibilities.

“Additional plays would allow you to score a lot more points,” he said. “It also puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense.”

Like I need an excuse to stay up late watching games on ESPN2 or some Fox regional broadcast, anyway.  But, damn, that would be fun to watch.



Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

18 responses to “Rocky Long is single-handedly trying to interest me in watching Mountain West football.

  1. HahiraDawg

    Since reading about this coach a couple of years ago I’ve wondered how long before it was tried at the D-1 level. Here’s to hoping he has a modicum of success. It would be very interesting. It is something I would’ve thought Mumme, the Pirate and their clones (Chris Hatcher?, et. all) would have tried. Guess the real %-tages wasn’t in favor of this or they probably already would have.


    • Here’s the SI article about the high school coach. Everything he does is statistically driven (as a huge fan of the Moneyball approach to anything in life, I love this) and he believes that never punting and always on-side kicking gives him the best chance to win. Very interesting stuff, indeed.


      • Rick

        You would probably enjoy the original paper by David Romer (very famous economist). It doesn’t say ‘always go for it’…but the data does seem to suggest that you should *almost* always go for it. The paper gets no respect from coaches or fans (other than Bill Belichick, who likes it), but the objections they usually raise are actually accounted for in the data analyses:

        Click to access w9024.pdf


        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Send this link to CMR.


          • Rick

            Oh, he knows about it. They all do – it made the rounds somewhat publicly 5 years ago or so. To his credit his conservativeness on 4th, particularly on the other side of the field, is infuriating, but it’s gotten better. Go back and watch the ‘glory years’ of ~2002, where he only got away with it because of the amazing defense. David Greene leads a 60 yard drive….for a punt or Billy Bennett field goal, rinse, repeat.


  2. JasonC

    I saw that too but the big question (which Long ponders in the article) is whether that team is successful because of these tactics or they have better players or superior coaching in other areas. SDSU doesn’t have the first advantage.


  3. JN

    One thing I think gets overlooked in this idea is how much different the play calling would be on 2nd & 3rd downs.

    Well unless you’re Mike Bobo facing 1st and goal from the Colorado 6 yd line. 1st play, FB trap for 2 yards. Next two plays, sideways passes into the endzone that were all or nothing. Man, those 2 yds on 1st down really increased the percentage of completing one of the next two passes, Mikey…


  4. 69Dawg

    I wonder if the new onside kick rule will hurt the chances of success. The bounce kick has been real effective if the kicking team can take out the receivers with blocks.


  5. Chuck

    Dirk Diggler, step aside.
    I just think Rocky Long would be a great name for a male porn star.


  6. Cosmic Dawg

    I’ve been saying for years that once you’ve reached your opponent’s 40 yard line, you should just go for it on 4th and 3 or less as a *general* rule of thumb. Your fans would be much more forgiving of losses if you were so aggressive, and it would improve your strategy on the other 3 downs, too. As The Senator points out, I watch football because it is fun. For most of a game, field goals are mere events, like commercials, that I can do without.

    Didn’t some stat guys do a study of this a few years ago and found that coaches kicked too many FG’s?


  7. The other Doug

    The high school coach that does this has 8 different types of onside kicks plus the standard kick off. He practices those kicks all season while the opposition tries to deal with it in one week of practice.


  8. shane#1

    I would settle for some fake punts. Please, just one?


    • AusDawg85

      Oh, I’m pretty sure The Visor, SOD and Mizzou will pull that out on us.

      Oh, you meant UGA try a fake?! Hahahahahahahaha……


      • Reed Rothchild

        You and I both know Coach has to decide on a Fair Catch Specialist before he’ll practice fake punts. I think there is lots of competition for Fair Catcher–the battle could rage on all the way to Thanksgiving.


  9. HiAltDawg

    I read this paper when it blew up a few years ago, sent the link to some friends and they immediately demanded I send it to CMR. As we came to our senses, we realized fans would just turn on a coach the second it failed and only “gimmick” coaches would ever try it regardless of logic and they’d just screw it up by making it a joke. Unless a coach that sets trends with a proven record does it, I see most coaches thinking some Economist “hasn’t been in the Arena,” or (altogether now) Nick Saban doesn’t have time for this bleep (couldn’t resist).


  10. Mark Bradley

    If this plan would fork for anyone it would be Paul Johnson. It seems to fit perfectly with his entire scheme on offense.

    Conversely, if Paul Johnson doesn’t use it and he is the smartest man alive…clearly the Master has spoken and called this plan garbage.