Get updates delivered to you daily. Free and customizable.
Could Sam Pittman Take Less Conservative Approach?
By Andy Hodges,
Razorbacks coach may be getting a little less conservative with approach.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It's probably a good bet Arkansas' offensive coordinator isn't making final calls on anything.
Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman likely has the veto on everything. That really includes strategy to work with four downs instead of just three.
That's probably for every coordinator, both Kendal Briles and Dan Enos. Fans love to criticize the final play call, but the guess is it's usually by committee and Pittman may stay silent, which denotes acceptance.
He's probably much quicker to shut a call down than anything else.
Now there may be a little less conservative look to the offense at times, based on what he said after Tuesday's sixth spring practice of the year.
"I've become a guy that's concerned or afraid about going for it on fourth down," he said during a press conference.
Analytics may have finally broken through what is an old-school offensive-minded coach.
"For the first time I'm going to practice third down, play fourth," Pittman said. "The only way I'm going to find out if I'm willing to do that is play third and go for it on fourth. I've never done that before [in scrimmages]."
Granted, that's not an admission he's going to do it in the season, but he's going to see if he can pull that trigger on fourth down.
Most of that's going to depend on what happens on first and second downs because few folks are going for fourth-and-10 in the first quarter an awful lot.
It comes into the planning.
What all of this does, though, is lower the per-play yardage if you factor in fourth down as one you're very likely to go for the first down. It's simple math involving a single yard.
Three yards on three straight downs leaves you a yard short of moving the chains. Planning on four gives you a two-yard cushion there.
It's all part of the psychological game that goes on, too. Defenses suddenly have to plan on four downs and a stop.
Maybe Pittman has been talking to Lane Kiffin down at Ole Miss or even sat down with former Pulaski Academy coach Kevin Kelley, who got national attention for hardly ever punting (it's tempting to say never, but exceptions usually prove that wrong).
All of the numbers so many folks pay more and more attention to these days say you have a better chance of keeping possession of the ball happens by not being so conservative.
Every once in awhile getting too fancy brings out the critics when it backfires. There are just as many examples of praising when those fancy calls work.
Nothing new there. It's happened for decades.
The key to it's running a play on third down to set up a fourth-down call to keep the chains moving.
Winning games, though, probably got Pittman's attention more than anything.
Comments / 0