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Kevin Kelly: Coaches like Ted Lasso who don’t punt make a big difference | College Football

NSTwo weeks ago, the Presvitrian University football team went out to fight Campbell University when the match reached a critical milestone. Bluehorse had less than 5 minutes left in the first quarter and was already 14 zips down, but took the bag in the third length and secured it to the 4-yard line. To make matters worse, the play clock expired in quarterback Ren Hefrey, backing up the Presbyterian Church up to another two yards.

Most other football coaches in the United States don’t have to think twice about what to do next: kick the ball. But Kevin Kelly is different. He made his name by continuing to attack boldly on the field with 4 downs instead of punting and trying field goals. This time, his decision to actually punt was a painful one that felt like a mental defeat. “They were just manipulating us,” says a 52-year-old coach who was still worried about his phone when the Guardian caught up with him this week. “It wasn’t good for us to turn down with force down.”

And there’s no doubt that Kelly did the right thing, but nevertheless it’s a strange concession from a man famous for going for it. On top of that, his humility and insatiable optimism, and well, you might take him to a real Ted Lasso-now equipped with a light blue wardrobe. “Don’t say you compared yourself to Ted Lasso,” says a big fan of the series. “”You are Raised it. But it’s actually a pretty decent similarity. He is experiencing downtime and has a lot of work to persuade people to agree with what you are doing. But he believes in what he is doing, so there is definitely optimism. I believe in the choices I make for my team. “

In a game where conservative rules and coaches are conditioned to play safely inside the box, Kelly’s approach is a heresy, an insult to the god of football. It comes from the work of economics professor David Romer, who created a powerful mathematical case for the NFL team to adopt it in 4th and 4th place and below, rather than playing safely and kicking the ball. It is something to do. A community that is particularly wary of analysis.

But by God, Kelly proved that his method worked. The coach of Pulaski Academy, a private school with 1,200 students in Little Rock, Arkansas, has won nine state championships with over 200 victories in 18 years. All the while, he was thinking of testing his bankruptcy philosophy at the next level. But when Kelly interviewed the college’s athletic director, the job offer conditioned on him turning into a more famous crazy strategist like Mississippi’s leading figure in the state of “air raids”, Mike Reach. It seemed to be. Or Art Briles, a former Baylor headman who speeded up the spread formation.

In essence, they wanted Kelly to be a coach who innovates without going against tradition. “When you go to college, you can say what people want about game changes,” says Kelly. “And I’m not saying there aren’t some changes. When you succeed in something, when you go up, it makes sense to me to stop doing what you succeeded in. I’m saying no. “

Presbyterian track and field director Rob Akunt saw the same. In May he hired Kelly to take over the 4-3 team and the 2020 season Covid was postponed until last spring. In addition, the Presbyterian Church does not offer athletic scholarships. So not only did Kelly fail to hire most of his rostered players. He didn’t really start working with them until a few months or so ago. “We didn’t have everything during the summer. We won’t do that here because they are non-scholarships,” explains the coach. “I got them on August 7. We’ll talk about the learning curve. We’re still learning crazy. And that’s the hard part for me. Time constraints. Springball No. Brand new attack. Brand new defense. All that. “

Not surprisingly, the short runway got off to a rather confusing start of the 2021 season, players adapted on the fly, and the Kelly method was part of the shock in the process. Bluehorse defeated the first two opponents with a total of 106 points. Hefrey, a dual-threat QB from Michigan, threw 10 touchdowns on FCS records at his first start. It put great expectations on the match against Campbell. But unfortunately, the Presbyterians crashed 72-0. (“We were playing a scholarship team,” Kelly explains why.) Last Saturday, Bluehorse acquitted Dayton and jumped into a 23-0 lead. He allowed 49 unanswered points and fell to 63-43 with the last gun. They also punted at minus 4 yards in the game. It’s enough to leave football lovers struggling to keep Snickers in check.

But Kelly knows that his method is not suitable for everyone. Opinions tend to gather in two camps. On the one hand, there are people under the age of 40, children who grew up in flag football and Madden video games.The other is their parents and grandparents who believe it is called legsBall for a reason. Kelly had often encountered the latter type at coaching clinics before, reminding him of one case where he shunned him at lunch and ate only with free pizza. “It’s back in the early 2000s No one That’s how it was done, “says Kelly. “I was 33 years old, but even high school coaches consider you a young man. And there weren’t many young men who were head coaches. Now when I go to the coach’s clinic, Young people flock to me. “Even some old school students had to come after Bill Belichick called him” probably the top high school coach in the country. “

That doesn’t mean Kelly doesn’t understand vigilance. After all, the football coach is such a prominent figure, and all his decisions are analyzed under a microscope. And the pressure to get it right isn’t just the difference between winning and losing. It’s the difference between being employed and being on the street. Given those huge bets, it’s no wonder that football coaches default to playing it safely compared to their counterparts in other sports. “Baseball is easy to move to analysis,” says Kelly. “Pete Carroll is the head coach of the Seahawks. Everyone knows what he looks like. But who is the Seattle Mariners manager? By the way, Scott, a former big league catcher. The survey does not offend the man.

Kelly no longer has the benefit of relative anonymity. He has set foot on this new lawn and expects to be judged rigorously. He expects to encounter bumps and divot. But while Kelly evolved his method from a man’s fantasy flight to a play style worth imitating, they weren’t something that couldn’t be overcome again. “When the Wright brothers flew the plane, the first brothers didn’t get off the ground or go far,” says Kelly. “It takes time for such a big change. The difference between me and them is that I want them to work right away.”

And what if it works brilliantly? Now, don’t expect Kelly to hit the bitter Premier League team-owned divorce arm looking to return to her husband. “I hope I’m not Ted Lasso who comes across another sport,” Kelly says with a laugh. “I taught other sports, and I love teaching soccer.” He also loves the locker room. It smells like a possibility.

Kevin Kelly: Coaches like Ted Lasso who don’t punt make a big difference | College Football

Source link Kevin Kelly: Coaches like Ted Lasso who don’t punt make a big difference | College Football

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