San Diego State head football coach Rocky Long is thinking about going for it on all fourth downs inside the 50 this season.
Inspired by the success of Arkansas high school coach Kevin Kelley, who has compiled a 104-19 record at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock behind an aggressive approach of never punting and always kicking onside, Long is considering his fourth-down options.
“It makes sense,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Additional plays would allow you to score a lot more points. It also puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense.”
While Kelley’s high school team might be Long’s inspiration, we all know that going for it on fourth down didn’t start in Little Rock. It started on "Madden" football. With that in mind, Long should consider some other "Madden"-inspired strategies this season.
• Run that one play: It often varies from year to year, but usually there’s a play that’s almost impossible to stop. Maybe it’s a bubble screen to a fast running back. Or try the one where you have a speedy quarterback and have him drop back deep and around the right tackle, freezing the defense and drawing in linebackers, only to then unleash a bomb deep across the field for a touchdown. No way a Mountain West defense could stop that.
• Blitz constantly: It doesn’t matter the down, distance or score: blitz, blitz, blitz. Getting into the backfield and crushing the quarterback or running back is what video game defense is all about. It's what makes it fun. If your opponent gets off a deep pass, well, that’s why you run a three-deep zone blitz. Have a safety pick it off. Sure, the middle of the field is wide-open, but they’ll never have success with an entire drive of dinking and dunking it down the field. On the next play or the one after that, you’ll sack them or intercept the ball. Guaranteed. It’s genius defense, and it’s time a real football coach has the guts to employ it.
• Never ask Madden: No offense to a football legend, but don’t ask this guy for play tips. Usually his play ideas are terrible. You’re better off on your own. Plus, what are the chances John Madden takes a call from San Diego State’s head coach anyway? He’s really famous.
• When in doubt, quit: Ever have a game where it seems like everything is stacked against you? The refs are robbing you on calls and your opponent is scoring on ridiculous plays? Passes you’d normally intercept are somehow passing right through your players' bodies, yet the other team’s linebackers are jumping 20 feet in the air to snag your quarterback’s throws out of the air? Completely unfair. Just quit that game and start it over. If it happens again, quit again and restart until you get a fair shake. It’s basic football. No one has tried it yet in real NCAA football, so maybe there's no rule against it.
Do all of this, Mr. Long, as well as the fourth-down thing, and your Aztecs will go undefeated this season and earn the distinction of being one of the last college football teams to get robbed by the BCS.