The sweetest gig on a football team has got to be the punter, right? They get to be a part of the team and bask in the glory of any wins while avoiding most of the brutal physicality of the sport. What's not great about being the punter?
Well, if San Diego State head coach Rocky Long has his way, the punter position is even going to be a sweeter gig with far less work. You see, Long is in the process of deciding if he even wants to punt once his team crosses the 50 yard line this upcoming season.
"It makes sense," Long told the Sand Diego Union-Tribune in a recent interview.
"Additional plays would allow you to score a lot more points," he said. "It also puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense."
While implementing this strategy would be a ballsy move, it wouldn't be an original one. Long got the idea from Kevin Kelley, the head football coach of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., who, after months of statistical analysis, determined his team would have a higher chance of success if it kicked the ball onside as opposed to punting. This strategy has proved to be highly successful in the nine years that Pulaski Academy has been using it. They are 104-19 with three state titles.
Upon reading up on the theory and the results of implementing it, Long, who is the mastermind behind the 3-3-5 defense, is very curious to see how it holds up at the college level and is very close to finding out.
"It's a day-to-day theory," Long said. “I haven't decided because we're getting a feel for it out here. I just read about this guy, and I don't know if I can do that because everybody in the world is going to say this is not Football 101, right?”
The major point behind not punting, according to Kelley, is that punting is basically a voluntary turnover. So, by using that logic, teams are giving their opposition a favor by wasting a play and giving away the ball on a down that could be used in a better way.
"There's a reason why he's winning those games," Long said of Kelley. "Maybe he just has better players than everybody else; or maybe it's their team gets used to playing like that and the other teams don't get used to playing like that. It's fourth-and-seven — most defenses run off the field. And now they're going to stay out there. 'What? How come the punt team isn't coming out?'"
While it's not likely that teams are going to readily adopt this philosophy in the near future — coaches are too enamored off 'field position' and pinning teams down within the 10 yard line — it would be interesting to see exactly how many teams would be willing to change if San Diego State uses it and is successful. I mean, at one point nobody used the spread offense, right? And now it's a regular staple within football at all levels.
Life is about change and that extends especially onto sports where everyone is always looking to get an edge on someone else. This may prove to be that edge, if Long is willing to use it.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
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