PSU Going For Broke

LouGroza's picture
October 22, 2012 at 9:41a

All the love headed the direction of PSU is a little skewed. O'Brien getting the attention he has is partly for these reasons. With four years of bowl bans and big scholarship losses upcoming they have nothing to lose. O'Brien has nothing to lose. He will be a hero in the eyes of the faithful for being there during the tough times even with a .400 winning percentage. But this is why PSU being the best team in the B1G it is a skewed perception. They, PSU and O'Brien, have no consequences. They are in prison for a few years. They go for it on 4th down a high percentage of the time and with success on many of these attempts. O'Brien cannot lose so why not? HE HAS NOTHING TO LOSE. If they turn the ball over on downs, so what? HE WILL NOT LOSE HIS JOB. No one else wants it. He will not be under the scrutiny of the fans, he is a hero no matter what. WE ARE NOT COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES WITH ANYONE WITHIN THE LEAGUE TO THEM FOR THIS REASON. What if Urban went for it on 4th down 65% of the time, even on the OSU side of the field, which PSU does often, and he only made it say 15% of the time? Think we would call for his head for stupid decisions? We would eventually if not immediately. No coach within the league can operate in the same manner without massive and immediate outcry from their fanbases. In hearing how great PSU is this hasn't come up at all that I have personally heard. Maybe it has and I have not been privy to it but it must be taken into consideration. No other coach can operate under these same parameters and retain their jobs unless they would be uber successful. It is not a fair comparison that I would think most should or would consider as being accurate. Not taking anything away from what they have done schematically with a former walk on QB and all but the outcomes of the games they have played would have been different if there was indeed something to lose. As much as I cannot stand the thought of that place for obvious reasons I must give them credit for what they have otherwise managed to accomplish.

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tommrkr's picture
An interesting article on going for it on 4th down, it specifically appeals to people with nothing to lose :)

FortMeyer's picture

I agree. Rittenberg doesn't look at any of those facts in his latest B1G blog. In the little I've seen them they have made huge first down plays where most coaches wouldn't dream of risking going for it on 4th and 7 at at their own 40 yard line in the 2nd quarter. Just a very small, minor difference in being able to take major chances. Some things never, ever change.

raki's picture

lets see if we can beat them this week, I think this would be a very Tough game.

brglr14's picture

i think distance is the biggest key. urban seems to be ready any where over our 35 and if its 4 of less yds. bucks have a ton of weapons for that down and distance which is what makes this O so tough if there getting that on 1st down, this o is at its best when were 4 or better on 1st. as far as this week. this is there bowl. they will let it all hang out and there going to throw throw throw. he knows were still pretty good v s the run we need our pass rushers this week

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


Run_Fido_Run's picture

Another minor factor to keep in mind is that PSU's "go for broke" approach toward 4D has probably slightly inflated their offensive stats.
They've gone for it on 23 4Ds, more than any other team besides Army. I don't feel like running the numbers, but let's say the average amount for all FBS teams is about 9 attempts so far this season (7/8 games played). PSU converted on 14 of 23. If they'd gone for an average number of 4D conversions, at that rate, they'd have converted about 6 FDs instead of 14. That's a net of about +8 extra plays. In addition, after converting the FDs, they run maybe 3-10 extra plays, depending on how the drives played out. So, maybe they've accumulated roughly 4-5 extra plays per game, or 20-25+ yards in offense, by being so aggressive. PSU is 59th in total offense, but might have been more like 75th if they'd been more conventional on 4Ds.
Hey, all power to 'em - I'm not discouting what they've earned as a result of that aggressiveness, but I do wonder how dynamic they really are on offense.        

LouGroza's picture

Nice math Run, thanks. And if the situation were that O'Briens job depended on going for and being successful on the 4th down plays, would they have indeed been attempted it the first place? The answer in most cases is most likely not. So in them doing so absolutely inflates all facets of the offensive stats. Along with their record. Who knows. Nothing to lose.

BME_Buckeye's picture

I agree with everything you've said here. While this team has nothing to lose, this has completely changed their offensive philosophy by going on 4th and 1. Given that their percentage is high, this has to wear out not only physically but mentally on defenses. If Penn State gets more than 4, will our defense doubt their abilties? I know we can't dodge every bullet but we should be concern for what will occur on the field. 
One thing that I find interesting is the way that the 4th downs occur. If PSU is even remotely close to the 50 yard line they will go for it. Moreover, since PSU has been shutting down their opponents in the first quarter they can go for more in order to sustain the momentum of their current drive. I read some where that Penn state has out scored their opponents 66-0 in the first quarter. YIKES! Going for 4th downs in the 1st quarter is what scares me the most. And after they pile up the points it doesn't stop until they know you've been buried. Thus, I think in order for us to win we will need to: 
1. Score first and put up at least 14 points to quiet the crowd and get us a lead.
2. Have miller go for some long runs to make BOB defense concerned about containing Miller. 
3. Can we pull a bama, or come close to it? Can we hold them beyond the 50 yardline and if so how many times can we do it. 
My thought is that if we score first and early, will PSU continue to go on 4th and xx given the fact Miller can burn them for some long runs? Is their anyway OSU can play to minimize the 4th downs or will PSU continue to give OSU a short field assuming our defense holds out? Our defense has been through a lot, especially with MSU but we are about to face something we have never seen before with this 4th down happy offense.  
Great Blog Lougroza

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dsbgobux's picture

Going for it on 4th down is needed if your kicker is 4 for 11 on the year in field goals! it is the only way they can hope to score. If the fg is missed where is the ball?

Buckeye in PA purgatory

rider1's picture

We have nothing to lose either. I expect a trick play or two may be in the works.