Hoosier Morning

1. HOOSIERS HQ
The offense’s potential and the defense’s lack of a pass rush are among the takeaways from Saturday’s game for IU football, Mike writes.

Rutgers came into Armstrong Stadium and embarrassed the No. 22 Indiana soccer team, I wrote.

The IU women’s soccer team went to overtime and settled for a tie for the third straight game, I wrote.

2. IT’S INDIANA
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson is focused on what’s next, which is Wake Forest and preferably another win, Pete DiPrimio of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel writes.

Western Kentucky knew what was coming, but the Hilltoppers couldn’t stop Jordan Howard and the Indiana running game, Zach Greenwell of the Bowling Green Daily News writes.

A Q-and-A with former Hoosier Verdell Jones III, who was inducted into his high school hall of fame over the weekend, with Anthony Zilis of the Champaign News-Gazette.

Wake Forest’s quarterback situation heading into the Indiana game is up in the air after the starter was injured and the backup rallied the Deacs to a win at Army, Scott Hamilton of the Winston-Salem Journal.

3. ONE FOR THE ROAD
Both song and band capture the mood for the IU soccer team — “Embarrassment” by Madness.

23 comments

  1. From Pete DiPrimio’s article, “Wilson will bring it. He doesn’t mess with kill-the-clock offense. He’s a full-speed-ahead coach and to heck with conventional wisdom. That means sometimes he’ll go for it on fourth down rather than punt or settle for field goals. He’ll push the tempo when caution urges patience. He’ll seek the big play rather than the safe one.”

    That seems like an accurate description of IU’s head coach, and it reminds me of the behavior of the Titanic’s Captain during his last voyage. But let’s see if those tendencies are modified or curtailed as Wilson approaches the end of his contract term as IU’s head coach. Let’s see if those tendencies will allow Wilson to be a successful head coach and lead a team to a winning season. Let’s see if his disdain for conventional wisdom and game-management tactics allow him to continue being employed as a head coach. You can have the luxury of ignoring “conventional wisdom” when you’re a proven winner. But when a head coach, who has never lead a team to a winning season disregards conventional wisdom to the point that it costs his teams wins and winning seasons, that disregard for conventional wisdom can cause him to become unemployed. And furthermore, it can prevent him from ever being employed as a head coach again. Maybe Wilson does not care about keeping his job at IU or being a head coach again? Maybe he does not need to maintain a 7-digit income in order to sustain his preferred lifestyle? Maybe he’s one of those guys that would rather fail trying to do it his way than succeed doing things in a conventional manner? Well, if that’s the way Wilson is, good for him. But maybe Wilson needs to better appreciate that he is responsible to a lot of other people that are invested in IU Football. His employees (staff) and the many young men who have placed their trust in him, not to mention the tens of thousands of IU alumni, students and local fans that desperately want to experience a winning football season. Those people may not care about style or methods, only the outcomes. Wilson may be very intelligent, but time will soon tell if his disregard for conventional wisdom and some time-tested game management tactics allow him to achieve success as a head football coach. Hope he makes it!

  2. .You can have the luxury of ignoring “conventional wisdom” when you’re a proven winner

    Indiana is still behind in the talent curve …They are still behind with regard to the height of the bell curve(in terms of premium 4-star and 5-star talent, and the breadth(width) of similar backup talent.
    I think it’s a necessity to take a few more gambles when rebuilding….You simply don’t have the horses to always play it safe…You have to cause a bit of havoc in the game. …and take chances that will enable more time of possession, along with some big plays/home runs.

    To stack IU Football’s bell curve against other teams with more numbers in higher levels of talent(stronger mid-majors and BIG teams), and a wider base of the curve to sustain injury/fatigue, without a considerable amount of risk is a bigger recipe for losing. It would also dilute the excitement level(fans and players alike) to play it safe and routine while having less overall gas in the tank for a prolonged fistfight of 12 rounds against true heavyweights. You have to take your shots…Winning with an inferior standard bell curve(though Wilson is making some strong strides to get us closer) with routine play-calling and safe decisions is nothing I want in an IU football coach..

    We’re not built for a slug-fest yet…We’re a middleweight that is still inching closer to fighting in a heavyweight division….Keep moving …Keep dancing…Keep remaining unpredictable. Frustrate the opponent with your gumption to expose yourself a bit while mixing things up and gambling on some chances for swings in momentum..

    The only thing that will keep an IU fan base engaged is Wilson’s style….and maybe that’s what is truly bothering some that may want him to fail(for whatever reason).

  3. Double Down, you want reason? How ironic, cause Wilson did not seem to use much in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s game. Here’s just a taste; 1) Wilson has never produced a winning season as a head coach, 3) if his team had lost Saturday, it would have been highly improbable that IU could win 6 or 7 games in 2015 (the first four games are must win for IU), 4) IU’s chances of defeating WKU were much greater with a 13-point lead and ten minutes to play than it was with a 10-point lead, 3) a field goal from 35 yards out is much more likely to be converted than a fourth and four. 5) IU had a young and inexperienced defensive backfield and virtually no pass rush playing against one of the most mature (sixth year senior), experienced and prolific QBs in the country who passed for over 350 yards in the first half. On top of that, I believe, but am not certain that Wilson’s batting average going for it on fourth down is not real high. Anybody possess the stats?

  4. Did you read the article that I sent?

    Every single serious study of 4th-down decisions has found that, in most situations, teams would be better off by going for the conversion attempt rather than kicking. I’ve recently completed a study of 4th-down decisions that confirms what some fans already know, that it pays to be more aggressive. Those short on time might want to skip ahead to the bottom line.

    In normal football situations, when neither team is ahead by much, and when the clock is not yet a factor, we can weigh the costs and benefits of each possible decision. Field-goal attempts, punts and conversion attempts can be valued by using a concept called Expected Points. A 1st down at any given yard line has an equivalent point value based on the average of the next score in the game. For example, a 1st down at midfield is worth 1.9 expected points.

    Since we know the average punt distances and field-goal percentages from various field positions, we can accurately estimate the expected point values of kicks. And since we know the conversion percentages on 4th-down attempts, we can value those, too. When the values are compared, it becomes clear that going for the first down is the better decision far more often than most people, and most coaches, think.

    You might ask: If it’s so obvious, then why don’t coaches go for it more often? There are a number of good explanations. The authors of the football research classic “The Hidden Game of Football” note that in the early days of the sport, it was rare for a team to score more than once all game. A punt basically guaranteed the opponent wouldn’t score on the next drive. Professor David Romer, author of one of the definitive papers on the subject, theorized that coaches are worried more about job security than winning. If a coach goes for it and fails, it’s his fault. But if he punts and loses, well, that’s just football, and his players take the blame.

    Your data and analysis is lacking.

    The end point of why more coaches don’t go for it on 4th down is because you can come on the internet and blame a coach, not a kicker for missing a FG or a punter flubbing a punt for only 30 yds (more common in college).

    There can be arguments as to why Wilson might not be the guy (I disagree), but his 4th down decision are not one of them. In fact, he should be commended for following the data and results and not the loud mouths in the stands.

  5. Po isn’t going to pay any attention to the article even if he does read it as it does not meet the argument he needs to advance his slant. In fact it destroys it along with Wilson and other HC’s practicing it. Randy Walker and Bob Stoops were never the most conservative HC’s on the gridiron either. Undoubtedly Wilson has read it and could have authored 1 just like it.

  6. Double Down, I envy the amount of free time you have. But yes, I read the article. And I’m very familiar with Pulaski Academy, the High School Football team in Arkansas that never punts and almost always onside kicks. Maybe IU can hire Pulaski’s coach, Kevin Kelley after Wilson moves on to bigger challenges! The stories about Pulaski made me wonder why, in spite of all his sound logic and the data supporting the use of those tactics, Kevin Kelley has never been hired as a head coach in college? I mean, he’s won a few State Championships, right? And I wonder why, in spite of that article’s spectacular academic conclusion, Wilson has so little success converting on fourth downs? Your article made me wonder, does that data apply to teams with defenses that can’t stop The Little Sisters of The Sorrowful Mothers from scoring touchdowns at will? Does that data apply to teams that run super-fast offenses that can run off three plays in less than 30 seconds, failing to provide their defense with adequate time to rest and catch their breath? I doubt it. You can find data to support any hypothesis one’s imagination can conjure up. But football is not played in a computer’s statistic modeling program. It’s played by young men, who if your lucky, are passionate and filled with positive emotion and confidence. Like the concept of a team’s “momentum” during a game, it can’t be measured by stats, but failing to convert on fourth down tends to decrease your team’s confidence and positive emotion while increase the same for your opponents. As that old joke goes, in response to a reporter asking the veteran coach how his team won the game, he responded, “we scored more points than they did.”

  7. Interesting read on CBS Sports by Jon Solomon under ‘Mark Emmert T-shirts’. His take on the Ed O’Bannon case, basketball one & done options and Notre Dame potential for leaving ‘elite’ college football if schools end up paying athletes.

  8. Po, I’m glad you took the time out of your busy schedule to respond to me.

    Apparently you didn’t read the article, because not once in the article that davis or I linked to mention Pulaski. In fact, the author’s who crunched the numbers at the Naval College would surmise that that coach probably takes it a little too far.

    Again, you bring no analysis or data to the table to refute why one should kick on 4th down or not. Just a lot of snark and emotion.

    Bringing advanced statistics to sports has lead to some of the greatest innovations in the game since white people started allowing black people to play on the same field with them. Joe Morgan would jump up and down in the booth ranting about how stats don’t mean anything. He’s in the unemployment line now. So are all the GMs who refuse to use advanced stats in evaluating and building their team.

    You’re comment, “But football is not played in a computer’s statistic modeling program. It’s played by young men, who if your lucky, are passionate and filled with positive emotion and confidence. Like the concept of a team’s “momentum” during a game, it can’t be measured by stats, but failing to convert on fourth down tends to decrease your team’s confidence and positive emotion while increase the same for your opponents.”

    That’s fallacy. No one who sees the overwhelming evidence that points to a more aggressive approach on 4th down, believe that the “computer model” plays football in place of humans. In fact, there is NO computer model at all. Computer models try to predict outcomes. This one doesn’t. It crunched results of outcomes to came to a fact based conclusion that, given the expected outcomes needed to reach the goal of a football game, which you stated (score more points than your opponent), coaches are far to risk adverse and should go for it on 4th down much more often than they do. The expected outcomes (scoring more points) are much greater when they go for it on 4th down…..in certain situations (actually read the article this time to see when and where a coach should do it).

    Saying that someone can find facts and data to support anything they can conjure up, while spending the whole conversation trying to prove Kevin Wilson sucks even when some of the evidence doesn’t support YOUR conclusion, is rich indeed.

  9. Double Down, I did read the article. And I was informing you that, in addition to the article you provided, I’m very familiar with Pulaski Academy’s coach (Kelley), who employs the same tactics and philosophies, and then some. And in spite of his certainty that his philosophies and tactics are far superior to the “conventional wisdom” used by most other High School and college coaches, he’s frustrated that he’s still stuck coaching High School football. Amazingly, no college Athletic Directors have made Kelley an offer to become a head coach? In spite of his obvious success, his ambition and all the data that supports his decision to never punt, I wonder why he’s still stuck coaching High School? And while this debate was fun, it’s really irrelevant. The biggest issue with Kevin Wilson’s IU team is his defense. In his fifth season as IU’s head coach, he still has not fielded a competitive defense. As referenced earlier in a different string, IU’s defense is currently ranked 120 out of 128 FBS teams. If that does not improve significantly and soon, Wilson’s future decisions to go for it on 4th downs will be irrelevant.

  10. Defense does need to improve….But you adamantly argued to can, Doug Mallory, his first DC, Knorr has one full season under his belt. And for someone that is strongly advocating the importance of emotions of the game, you choose to igKnorr how disruptive top coaching personnel changes can be. Beyond learning entirely new schemes and developing a roster to fit those new modes of attack, do some of these kids not form bonds with their coaches? Do they see things from the more human side of the game in their interactions that a typical fan cannot relate? Do they see passion in these coaches so constantly under scrutiny that we fail to find? Do they experience a camaraderie with their leaders no matter how defunct that faith are armchair quarterbacking determines a needless emotion in the way of needed change? Because we always know best….And now it’s the new turkey in town: Knorrbest.

    Wilson made the decision to change directions with the DC. Give him 50% credit for acting on exactly what you were pounding your fist on the Scoop pages to do. Are you now building a case for another wrong decision in the DC….? And you’re building that case based on one season that Knorr has had to work out all the “mistakes” and poor direction…and possible lack of passion that a Doug Mallory defense was putting into the heart and soul of a Hoosier defense? It sounds like you just enjoy one-night stands and divorces….

    And, unlike your high school coach example above, Doug Mallory had no problem getting rehired. Sometimes you need connections, I guess. Sometimes you need to be married to prominent names in the coaching business, said Tom Crean.

    Double Down- Keep in mind that “losing” is also a statistical outcome that is stamped on the front of any IU Football helmet. It’s something Wilson is finally beginning to wear off with an unflappable determination to not play the role of defeatist with the program. But he will be measured and crucified like all before him…He will be lumped into a sea of disappointments and memories that it’s just more of the same. It will take more than stat crunchers and geniuses to fix IU Football. Honestly, do any of us have the answers? This program is stuck in the hills of southern Indiana. It fights against nearby models of elite football…It fights to garner fan support when no major city brushes against its stadiums….Young people find so many other diversions….Where would you spend your time with the array of fun right at your fingertips via an iPhone or a laptop?

    Let’s also keep in mind that Indianapolis Colts fans were booing last night…They were leaving the stadium early when the game’s outcome was still not anchored in certainty. This is the reaction of loyal and intelligent fans that just watched their NFL team get to an AFC championship game last year. Put those hillbilly emotions onto the desk.a statistician while trying to figure out how to get adults in a city one hour from Bloomington interested in IU Football. I’ll never forget the night those trucks rolled into Indy from Baltimore…We brought professional football to Indy by hijacking it in the darkness of complete secrecy..
    And now, Luck have it, they can’t even stay for 4 quarters… I ramble…..

  11. Both of you display a staggering lack of understanding of the role that stats play in sports. I get absolutely exhausted at the false binary argument that opponents put forth that says that stats don’t account for the human element. The answer is BOTH.

    In FCS caliber football, the margin of error is ever so slight. Advanced stats play a significant role in helping coaches in the evaluation period, as well as in real-time decision making. Stats are a way of being able to understand the patterns of real human beings. Sometimes there are things that stats reveal that can give a decision maker an advantage, but up to a point. However, if he shuns the usage of stats, his opponents will retain that advantage against him. See Ruban Amaro in Philadelphia the last 4 years.

    It is no different than the way that micro-biologists and physicists try to understand organic and subatomic behavior. In the same way with football, stats provide unemotional insight into real and observed behaviors of real people. In the realm of those who have to apply stats to the real-world, it is another several arrows in their quiver. The art is in when and where they use it, as well as how well they can shoot it when they do.

  12. In reading back my comment, the sentence in the first paragraph was way too harsh. Sorry fellas. I’m enjoying this conversation. Please read past it and focus on the rest of the discussion.

    Or you can just call me a poopy pants and we can move on.

  13. In FCS caliber football, the margin of error is ever so slight.

    You don’t need 40 hours of pregame statistical analysis to know the above statement is exactly why Wilson needs to ‘go for it’ on larger percentage of 4rh down opportunities….When you are still considerably behind the talent curve(And is a smaller and less elongated bell curve not a statistical representation of IU’s talent level still nothing close to many of their opponents?), the margins for errors are exaggerated to the point that hundreds exist because of such growing pains and disparities in talent. You gamble because you’ve already dodged bullets…You don’t see the advantage of three points when your next kick return may be taken back for 80 yards because your special teams are also behind the talent curve, etc, etc, etc.

    IU Football doesn’t belong in most sample sets…It should be thrown out for being a mouse in a rat experiment….The mouse must always gamble for survival. It will need to think outside the traps of conventional wisdom(not because other rats among rats have figured it out), but because it MUST behave differently and should behave differently….for every turn is another in a list of hundreds of margins for error not in a Hoosier’s mouse favor that could mean big hungry rat wins again.

    I’m amazed at the staggering lack of commonsense….I don’t need to know how many times OSU pisses away solid 4th down opportunities that could equate into more points…Their BIG rat ass gets enough on us already. Our statistically generated talent bell curve is an anthill compared to their mountain range. We must be inventive far beyond the more than average occasion to gamble in not punting or forgoing a field goal. Kick a field goal on third down before we fumble or throw a pick six may be another choice for all your brilliance to ponder or number crunch…..chomp…chomp..chomp.

  14. I’m amazed at your inability to consider evidence without a predetermined conclusion.

    Yet again making arguments I’ve never made. I’m buying you a flamethrower for your 83rd birthday, so you can keep building these Burning Man-esque strawmen arguments.

  15. I’ve made no predetermined conclusions….I support Wilson’s going for it on 4th down …And I certainly don’t think cupcake teams is where I search for momentum and instilling belief via conservative and safe play…though it is contrary to conventional wisdom outside the 1% willing to educate themselves given a bubble in the universe of analysis finding favorable results for a 4th down “go-for-it” attempt in the statistics produced by a certain set of number crunchers….using a specific sample set…containing a certain set of a 1000 other variable that may, or may not, influence the conclusions already sought to present. ..

    It’s all good…But the bell curve against IU is far more disproportionate than the world of whether or not Wilson schools himself in one construct of 4th down football anyalytics or farts to the wind to make such decisions…

    I’d suggest using it to go make yourself millions on Fantasy Football betting sites…Put your money and your mouth where your analytics are….Don’t you watch those commercials? Don’t you see all those tools making the big bucks because the sun comes up every morning? .

    I will repeat one last time…For an IU Football coach to not gamble and take some chances is never going to engage the fan base nor win many games. We are not built yet for 12 rounds a conventional fight. Creativity and risk-taking in all forms is the order of the day. And that could even include kicking a field goal on 3rd down, surprise onside kick in non-desperation situations….throwing on first down….mooning the opposing coach…putting out a bounty to put a QB in the hospital(thank you, New Orleans Saints)…or, heaven forbid, scheduling some slightly tougher opponents in non-conference play…Can you crunch some of those numbers for me? I have really no idea,…other than the fans might enjoy it more than “conventional” losing.

  16. Excellent and accurate information provided by Podunker. Agree with you 100%, Anyone remember the Minnesota game at home 2 years ago. IU gambles and goes for a 2 point conversion early in the second half. Later, in the closing minutes of the game and the ball on the gopher 10 (1st down, 2 or 3 timeouts left) we throw a backwards screen pass that is incomplete and recovered by the gophers. Game over. If IU kicks the extra point earlier in the game, they could have taken a knee three times on the 10 yard line and kicked the game winner. That loss kept IU out of a bowl game. One of the most painful losses I have ever experienced.

  17. If Japan wouldn’t have bombed Pearl Harbor………

    They pissed us off. They shouldn’t have gone for it on 4th and global domination. Or maybe that was the field goal? Maybe continuing to the mainland was the going for it? Yup..They took the lead that day….but they left points on the board…Global Domination Analytics concludes a better chance of territorial expansion if you go for it ….Who am I kidding…They won the game in the long run…Conventional wisdom rules…We all drive a Honda or a Toyota…or a Lexus…or Acura.. If Japan would have went for it instead of settling for the Pearl Harbor field goal, we likely own Japan instead of playing at the bottom tier of the electronics and auto industry….

  18. Where am I disagreeing with you, Double Down? I support many of Wilson’s decisions to go for it on 4h down….If you need your chosen source for evidence that it’s right for IU Football based on analytics, so be it.

    I find a bit more comfort in simply supporting a coach that knows his team and knows what mindset he’s attempting to build …He is also fully aware of the challenges a roster not as high on the y-curve of top talent and deep on the x-curve based on the numbers of quality replacements on the bench(the bell curve idea you seem to not respond to or grasp). Wilson and Knorr must attack all those talent discrepancy challenges by risking the squandering of some opportunities at safe points/safe defending in attempts to accumulate larger chunks of points/big defensive plays. IU Football’s mere existence has never been anything worth much a gamble….I have no problem with playing with its odds at a point their can really be no more to lose. Maybe that also makes little sense to you….

    Your attempts at degrading a person based on a age stereotype you want to build is far more telling of the straw man that burns..

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