First, it was the wrist coach and the no-huddle strategy. Then, in 2005, coach Kevin Kelley of the Pulaski Academy Bruins, located in Little Rock, Arkansas, made a radical change to his team's game: they would not punt. Well, at least not usually. The move was unprecedented at the time, but in the six seasons since Kelly's decision, the tactic has gained traction among high school coaches and the no-punt game is quickly becoming a buzzword across all age groups.
According to the ESPN column Tuesday Morning Quarterback (TMQ), since his revolutionary decision, Kelley and the Bruins have taken their league and state by storm. He went from making it to the state quarterfinals in the first year of the new game plan to winning the state championship in 2008 and 2011.
The statistics back Kelley up as well. TMQ recruited AccuScore, a computer-based sports probability system which plays out the games by numbers, to analyze the effects of "rarely punting." The model found that in the National Football League (NFL), using the strategy made victory 5 percent more likely and worked out to about one more win per season for a team. When the season lasts just 16 games, that can make quite a difference.
Kelley's willingness to be bold, and his team's subsequent success, has garnered a lot of attention over the past six years. Kelley has consulted with NFL and D-I college teams, has been profiled by numerous sports publications and has even presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
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