SBnation article on fourth down decisions

Submitted by RJM on September 19th, 2017 at 10:31 AM

Saw this interesting article on fourth down decisions on SBnation. Don't remember seeing it in the past couple days and no hits on a quick board search.…

Makes sense that the decison is different in college than the NFL. Also interesting, though unsurprising, that the calculus changes if you have a kicker with a big leg (WILD THING!). It would be interesting to run the math on how this changes depending on other offensive S&P+ metrics; e.g. I would expect a team with good offensive efficiency would be better served by going for it on fourth down than an inefficient one.


The Maizer

September 19th, 2017 at 11:03 AM ^

I don't understand this article's field goal percentage numbers. It gives the percent as 4th downs inside the 5 divided by field goal attempts. What is that supposed to represent? Shouldn't it be number of field goal attempts while in 4th downs inside the 5 divided by total 4th downs inside the 5?

Edit: I'm guessing the columns are just mislabeled.

Mike Damone

September 19th, 2017 at 12:19 PM ^

that the analysis and discussion is missing a very key factor - how good your defense is and the trust in that defense.  If you are in a shootout with poor defenses (see Texas Tech), much more likely to go for it.  If you trust your defense to get ball back, should be more likely to punt.

Hell, based on some of the games I have watched over past couple of years - you almost have to go for it near midfield - otherwise you are going to lose the 52-49 shootout.


September 19th, 2017 at 12:44 PM ^

Thanks for forwarding.  


In Michigan's specific case, we have (a) the Hammering Panda (so go for the first down); and (b) Quinn Nordin (so go for the field goal). My guess is that as long as Nordin stays this hot, we're going to see a lot of field goal attempts on 4th and short.


September 19th, 2017 at 1:13 PM ^

I would like to see a few wrinkles added to the offense:

1. Hurry up & change of tempo offense - switching from normal speed to hurry up back down to slower paces throughout the game to confuse the D.

2. More 4-5 wide sets with quick passes.

3. Go for it on 4th down more often so the guys know they only have to make 3-4 yards a down. If they don't make the 1st down, it's ok, just line up quick and run a hurry up play to get the 1st down.

4. Running a play that works over and over and over until it doesn't work or until you can hammer them with a constraint play/play action off the tendency you just established.