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Saturday, October 17, 2015

To go or not to go: Fourth down debate continues for KU

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives some instruction to his players during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives some instruction to his players during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

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For the third week in a row, Kansas football coach David Beaty faced a few tough decisions on fourth down on Saturday.

And although he wound up going for it instead of kicking on a couple of occasions late in a 30-20 home loss to Texas Tech — “we had to,” Beaty said — the decision to punt instead of trying to keep drives alive early in the game again played a factor.

Asked again about his fourth-down philosophy after the loss, Beaty continued to answer like a coach playing with a full deck and not a heavy underdog desperate to gamble.

“You know, there's a lot of factors that go into when and why you go for it on fourth down,” Beaty said.

“Not the least of which is how our defense is playing,” he continued. “What type of momentum do they have, have they already gotten a little bit of confidence moving forward, have they done some things to stop them? We had one, we were fourth-and-four down by the goal line, but we were 0 of 7 in our last three games on fourth down and short. So going into that situation you gotta be smart about when you do it, how you do it, what play do you have and what kind of room do you have to be able to spread the ball out and things like that.”

KU finished 1-of-3 on fourth-down conversions Saturday.

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live blog.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas Tech


Comments

Damian Glaze 4 years, 4 months ago

Not in the least. At this point there is no reason you don't go for it on 4th down every time if you are dealing with five yards or less. Sure, 4th and 10 or more is an easy decision. But, based on what is going on with this team so far this year, you will be supported by the players and fans 100% going for it on 4th down in those situations where you might have to think about it.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

“You know, there's a lot of factors that go into when and why you go for it on fourth down,...not the least of which is how our defense is playing,” he continued. “What type of momentum do they have, have they already gotten a little bit of confidence moving forward, have they done some things to stop them?

This is all crap.

Those may all be factors, but none of them weighs as heavily as the fact that being a big dog you have very little to lose, but a lot to gain if you're successful. You don't make it? SO WHAT? You're expected to lose. But if go for it you potentially keep drives alive that can give you a chance to win, fare better in games, and/or not get blown out; ANY OF WHICH builds confidence in a team.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 4 months ago

Or that the punting game is in such bad shape that even if you fail on 4th down, you're not giving the other team that.much better field position. Going for it also tells the defense you have the confidence in them to bail out the offense if they fail. Beaty's decisions show a lack of faith in both the offense and defense in his 4th down play calling.

LSU scored their go ahead TD on a freaking fake FG today! I really wish Beaty had more Mad Hatter in him because love/hate/indifferent to LSU, they are fun to watch because Les Miles has a gamblers mentality and will take a ton of risks.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 4 months ago

Not so sure about that Joe. We needed 4 yards, 5 yards and 4 yards respectively on 4th down so taking the sure points would have been the correct call in theory. Only thing is, we didn’t make what should have been sure points. Our kicking team left 7 points on the field and we should have been down by 3 with 4 minutes to play. That would not have placed us in such a desperate position so late in the game. Beaty coached the game as if we had a chance to win and not as if we were 32 point underdogs. That’s what my brain is telling me but my heart might agree with you.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

Youre not getting it. Yes, everyone knows that those long yardage situations are "THEORETICALLY" situations where you punt on fourth down. But this is Kansas!. Youre a 35-point, 42-point dog in consecutive weeks. Youre not projected to win a game all season. THEORY IS OUT THE WINDOW!

YOU GO FOR IT!!!

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 4 months ago

When you have nothing to lose, which is the case for KU this year, you throw the kitchen sink at other teams. If you're gonna make a mistake, make it going full speed. If you're going to lose a game, lose it because you couldn't execute.

We keep talking about building confidence in this team, theu way you do that is trust them to make plays. Trust the offense to make those 4 yards, and if they can't, trust the defense to bail out the offense. Punting in thise situations tells the offense you don't trust them to get 4 yards and it tells the defense you don't trust them to stop the other team should the offense fail.

Plus aggressive play calling is exciting and makes people want to come watch and that's something KU's fanbase needs.

Pamela Shanks 4 years, 4 months ago

The opposite is also very true. If you can figure out the message behind going against the correct "theoretical" calls on 4th down, don't you think the players can too? Beaty today played like a coach who believed his team would be in the game late, and guess what? They were. The coaches may have been the only ones in the stadium who truly believed that could happen. THAT is a powerful message. Perhaps his decisions gave the team the mental edge they needed.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

Maybe, Pamela.

But perhaps his decisions lost the game.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 4 months ago

Aaron and Joe are dead wrong on this. I complained about the decisions last week. Why? Because if we had given Baylor the ball at Yellow Sub on 23rd Street, they would have scored on their next possession. Going for it was an absolute necessity.

Yesterday, the game was still being contested. It wasn't Beaty's decisions that cost us a chance at a win, it was bad field-goal kicking. Up until yesterday, the kicking had been reliable, though not spectacular. Sometimes, kids just have to do their jobs.

Beaty's decisions yesterday were as right as they were wrong against Baylor.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 4 months ago

So you blame the FG kicking even though we already knew our kicking game was absolute garbage. That's on Beaty.

David Robinett 4 years, 4 months ago

Joe, I love all of your post but I strongly disagree with you on this one. What we had to lose yesterday was THE GAME. We could have actually won this game. Your argument only makes sense if we're definitely going to lose by 20 or 30 points.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

A cogent argument can be made that the lack of going for it on 4th down actually lost us the game.

Greg Ledom 4 years, 4 months ago

And conversely that having hit the field goals and extra point would have won it less the interception late. It's a wash. What I'm thankful for is that this team is getting better, little by little each week. Haven't seen that since Coach M. In Beaty I trust.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

Ryan Willis was on his game yesterday. The Texas Tech defense was NOT.

Beaty single-handedly killed many opportunities to sustain drives that ended in scores, and we know already that some of those decisions NOT to go for it on 4th down ended in no points from missed field goals and in giving TTech better field position than Beaty predicted he would have given by punting the ball.

So its not like you can get away with the argument that conservative play calling gave us the best chance to win the game.

Said respectfully...

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, but Beaty lost the game by trusting a kicking game that hasn't shown any ability this year. When XP's are iffy at best, you have to go for it when your in opposing territory because of the lack of a kicking game.

If you want to build and show confidence in you defense, it shouldn't matter if you give the ball to the other team on their own 10 or 35.

Even aside from that, aggressive play calling and decision making is something that would also infiltrate all aspects of the program and become the mindset of everyone involved with KU football. Offseason conditioning becomes more aggressive, practice becomes more aggressive, recruiting becomes more aggressive. Everything about Kansas football becomes more aggressive.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 4 months ago

The kicking hasn't been bad this year. All but Wyman's 51-yarder were well within what we've done this year. Again, kicking hasn't been great, but it had been better.

David Robinett 4 years, 4 months ago

I think part of learning to win is playing like you would if you were expecting to win. And that is what coach baby did today.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

Another part of learning to win is having confidence, and unless youve faced situations where confidence has to be placed in you, you will never become a team that can survive the kind of duress one faces when it has to pull itself out of a huge hole.

David Robinett 4 years, 4 months ago

A cogent argument can be made that the lack of going for it on 4th down actually lost us the game.×××××××

Not really, when we have been over 7 in such situations lately

You would be correct if we could convert maybe even 20% of 4th down plays but failing on nearly all of them and hence running up the score of our opponent does not increase our team confidence.

Joe Ross 4 years, 4 months ago

How many of those situations were against a TT defense? And what was our percentage of conversion on 4th down vs the Red Raiders?

Additionally, punting it away on 4th down in games outside of this one has not produced the field advantage Beaty hoped to gain because of poor punting. Another reason to go for it on 4th...

But even beyond that, my other point applies. If we go for it and fail, then so what? There is little to be lost and everything to be gained. It is clear to me that not going for it on 4th down is the wrong strategy for this particular team in general, and it was certainly the wrong strategy last Saturday.

David Robinett 4 years, 4 months ago

Plus, we DID go for it three times on fourth down. So he is showing confidence in the team at the appropriate moments. And perhaps building their confidence in their coach and showing them is not an idiot or desperate. Both of which Charlie Weis showed his players.

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