Should we always take the ball if we win the toss?

Submitted by docwhoblocked on September 26th, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Does anyone else think that we should always take the ball if we win the toss unless it is blowing like a hurricane?  I think that we are going to be in a lot of shootouts in the B10(11)(12).  Given our offense is based on dilithium and our defense is based on Depends, I think that I want the ball first to try and get ahead in order to stay ahead.  Any data out there on this choice.  Seems like the usual is to defer especially if the wind is an issue.  GIven our kicking game or lack thereof how does this all play out?



September 26th, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

I like getting the ball in the second half.  I'll bet the Mathlete or someone could come up with a better mathematical way of putting it but basically, since you essentially push the reset button on the trading of possessions at halftime, you're more likely to maximize your possessions in the all-important second half if you get it first.

In the first half, either your possession or the opponent's is cut short at halftime (/master of the obvious) so if you get the ball in the second half, from a possession-maximization standpoint the absolute worst thing that can happen is for the opponent to score to end the half.  From that, your possession benefit is zero.  Otherwise, you see some benefit in maximizing your possessions and minimizing theirs.


September 26th, 2010 at 7:39 PM ^

if you defer to 2H you have the flexibility to try (or not to) the hurry-up offense at the end of the 1H.  ie. if i have the ball on my own 20 with about a min left, i may try to score more pts if the opponent is getting the 2H possession.  i may run out the clock, if i'm getting the ball.  also, depends on the score at the time.


September 26th, 2010 at 7:15 PM ^

What's more important, having the ball at the start of the first quarter, or at the start of the third?  To me, it's a pretty easy choice.  The closer you get to the end of the game, the more valuable each possession becomes.


September 26th, 2010 at 7:25 PM ^

the 'sudden impact' of our offense gearing up and scoring in a heartbeat, that would put some stress into the opposition, that's for sure, the way our offense scores. I don't know if it's human nature or just a better strategy, but the winner almost always defers; it seems much more comfortable that way or something, and you don't want to make your team uncomfortable. No coach has managed to make a big advantage taking the ball first; if there was one, more teams would be doing it.


September 26th, 2010 at 7:31 PM ^

With a quality opponent, I think it's best to defer.  But if we are playing an inferior team (like BGSU, for instance), it may be better to take the ball first and try to get an early lead.  Bad teams will quit sometimes. 


September 26th, 2010 at 7:40 PM ^

Pretty much in almost all cases its better to defer to the second half because its the strong conservative play.  If you choose the ball, in most cases, you don't have as much confidence in your defense to stop their offense and you hoping you can stagnate them by scoring first.  In our case, we need to keep encouraging our defense and have confidence in them to stop any opponent.  GO BLUE!!


September 26th, 2010 at 8:27 PM ^

I could be wrong but I don't think any team has scored on us on their first drive.  It seems like teams manage to adjust to our defense fairly quickly but it takes a couple drives before that happens.  Usually by the time the other team scores Michigan already has a two touchdown lead or more.  Then we get the ball to start the 2nd half, score again and be up by at least two or three touchdowns.

Indiana Blue

September 26th, 2010 at 8:45 PM ^

I 100% agree that the potential extra possesion in the 2nd half trumps any other theory.

However, I also agree that taking the ball this year, when the other team defers, kinda gets the juices flowing !!!

Go Blue ! 


September 26th, 2010 at 8:45 PM ^

I defer unless you don't have a good d.  Unfortunately, we don't.

Taking the ball first allows our offense to go out and set the tempo.  We can get the momentum and play with the lead. 


September 26th, 2010 at 8:50 PM ^

about this choice?  I was intrigued by the posting on when to go for it on 4th down and it seemed to be based on fairly good data.  What is the point value of winning the toss? If there are two equally matched teams, how much difference does it make to win the toss?  Mathlete where are you?  You are our only hope Obi-wan.  We wander in the data-less darkness living off opinions rather than fact.  Would it not be useful to know what you give up or gain on average by winning or losing the toss?  When did coaches begin to decide to defer and why? etc. etc.


September 26th, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

There may be statistics that show that this is wrong, but my guess is that offenses are slightly less effective on drives that start the game b/c the players are a little too keyed up.  If that is correct, kicking off to start the game would decrease your opponent's offensive effectiveness on one of their drives (the first).  Of course, for this to matter, there would need to be a decrease in effectiveness on drives that start the game and that decrease would have to be greater than any decrease observed in initial offensive possessions that do not start a game, i.e., the kicking team's first possession (the game's second possession).  Otherwise there would just be a cancelling-out effect.

Indiana Blue

September 26th, 2010 at 9:26 PM ^

If you have an excellent defense, if you defer the logic is :  kickoff and hold the return to the 20  -  get a 3 and out forcing the other team to punt from their 20  -  a 40 yard punt then gives your offense the ball at the 40   -  thereby giving you control of the field position.  Even if you fail to move the ball  -  your punt should put them back at their 20 ... and so on.

The '97 team excelled at 3 and outs and could win games just on field position.  ie - the other team has to go 80 yards for a TD and we only needed to go 60 yards for a TD.   For Denard and Co. the field could be 200 yards long and we would still score !!

Go Blue !


September 26th, 2010 at 10:04 PM ^

So we should always do the opposite just on principle.

Usually I let the wife control the radio, because it's all horrible.  But she was going to leave it on that horrible song and I said no change it now.

However, I think we should take the ball.  The pedesttrian defense and the awesome offense.  I just have fears of deferring.  Allowing the td on the first possession, going 3 and out and getting another quick score on our defense.

However, if we take the ball with our offense.  We put the opposing team in the same danger.  Score, get a defensive stop, and we can be up 14 before the 8 minute of the quarter.

I only think this way with a top 5 offense and a bottom 20 defense.  All others defer!!


September 27th, 2010 at 8:34 AM ^

You always defer in OT and let the other team take the first shot. That ways you know what you are aiming for (e.g. if they have an FG - the TD wins, if they have an INT, an FG wins and so on).

Given out offense and especially against the run based teams, I wonder whether it would be a good idea to take the possession for first series. If we get a 2TD lead early then we can shift to our efficienct clock eating run game (see UConn) and force the other team to abandon the run - which also works in our favor given our problems defending the run.

Shop Smart Sho…

September 27th, 2010 at 8:54 AM ^

As an Indiana resident, I'm going to be drawing a comparison to the Colts.  Just like them, this Michigan team is obvioulsy going to rely on their offense to win games.  The Colts are only really effective if they get an early lead.  It allows their defense to play more aggresively, covering up their problems in run defense.


I would think that if given the early lead, the MIchigan defense could play in a similar manner, especially against teams with suspect pass blocking.  The best defensive players on defense right now are those that excel at pressuring the QB, so why not give them that cushion that the offense can provide?