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Old 09-07-2002, 05:34 AM   #1
Anthony
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Default Time Of Possession: A Surprising Trend

The following was written by Jake Curtis in his "On College Football" Column which ran in the September 6 San Francisco Chronicle:


Just a few years ago, television analysts harped on the significance of time of possession. Not anymore, not if they're any good. These days TOP is as indicative of success as the number of physical-education majors on the team, probably less.

TOP should be removed from the stat sheet for Saturday's Miami-Florida game, because both practice the Ralph Cramden
(sic) philosophy on offense: Bang, Zoom. Hit quick for a big play, get off the field, suck down some Gatorade.

Florida beat Alabama-Birmingham 51-3 last week, yet had the ball six minutes less. Miami won 63-17 over Florida A&M while having the ball nearly 13 minutes less. Oklahoma had the ball less than Tulsa even though the Sooners won 37-0 and had a player, Quenin Griffin, rush for 237 yards. Nevada had the ball virtually twice as long as Washington State and had a 31-7 loss to show for it. Ranked teams Colorado State, South Carolina, North Carolina State and Penn State all had their defense on the field more than their offense in wins last week. Cal beat Baylor 70-22, even though Baylor had the ball nearly seven minutes longer.

"If you have a big-play offense and a big-play defense, you won't have the ball very long," Cal offensive coordinator George Cortez said.

And if you don't have a big-play offense and defense these days, you probably aren't very good. The top three ranked teams in 2001 - Miami, Oregon and Florida - all totaled less time of possession than their opponents last season, even though Florida had a 1,300-yard rusher and Oregon had two players rush for more than 1,000 yards apiece over its 12 games. Miami dominated Nebraska 37-14 in the Rose Bowl, although the Huskers had the ball nine minutes longer.

Stanford coach Buddy Teevens thinks it has more to do with defense than offense: With defenses today predicated so much on speed and constant pressure, he says, it's difficult to produce a 12-play drive without turning the ball over. When is the last time you heard the phrase "bends but doesn't break" applied to a good defense?

With Miami's Ken Dorsey and Florida's Rex Grossman trading bombs, the winner of Saturday's game in Gainesville, Fla., may be the team that has its quarterback on the bench the most.
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Old 09-07-2002, 11:56 AM   #2
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Thanks, Anthony, that's a good article. It's simply amazing when you look at some of the stats that were listed. TOP is always considered a note-worthy stat, but in reality, it has almost nothing to do with the outcome of the game.
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Old 09-07-2002, 04:14 PM   #3
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Having a higher time of possession is always considered a positive thing, but when you have a high-powered offense, it isn't hard to hit some big bombs and run the score up in little time. That's what all the national powerhouses do.
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Old 09-08-2002, 01:19 AM   #4
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If you run the ball consistantly then it is good to have a high TOP, but if you air it out all the time who cares. Although it isnt good to have your defense on the field all the time.
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Old 09-08-2002, 04:11 AM   #5
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If you think about it, what is apparently happening makes a great deal of sense: The key to winning seems to be making the big play on offense, along with stopping your opponents from doing likewise - force them try and run 12 or 15 plays to score, thereby giving them 12 or 15 plays for them to fumble, throw an interception, or suffer a drive-killing sack or holding penalty.

And this trend is likely to "trickle up" to the NFL, sooner or later, which at least in my opinion would be an awesome thing. The West Coast Offense? Blech! Enough already!
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Old 09-08-2002, 01:03 PM   #6
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Take this for example.....Florida Gators go on a 13 play 90 yard drive...taking up several minutes on the clock, then throw an interception to Miami who gets a touchdown in 13 seconds. So, time of possession did not matter in this game, and especially on that series of events! Big plays, especially scoring plays matter much more than long sustained drives amounting to no points!

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Old 09-09-2002, 12:25 AM   #7
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Well most teams, usually have a few things they want to do like control the tempo, which is some cases means TOP, dont turn the ball over. Dont have mental errors and penalties. Controlling the tempo is more important than TOP.
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Old 09-09-2002, 10:17 AM   #8
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Then again there's Don Coryell's approach. Coryell once commented to the effect that if you throw a 30-yard touchdown pass, or a 50-yard touchdown pass, or an 80-yard touchdown pass, you don't have to worry about what you're going to do once you get inside the 20 (the term "red zone" had not yet been popularized at the time he made the quip, and I'm not sure whether it was made before or after he left San Diego State for the NFL).
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