# Urban Meyer: statistics and momentum in football

October 26, 2012
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(This article was originally published at Learning From Data » Statistics, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

On the way to school late night yesterday, I randomly checked in Urban Meyer’s call in show for the first time.  I was pleasantly surprised by a question from the first caller, Adam, and was even more impressed by Urban‘s answer.

Adam’s question was asking the origin and evolution of the coach’s football philosophy and “To what extents, statistics, football statistics, play a role in your football philosophy?” Here is Urban’s answer:

Adam, that’s a. Congratulations. I appreciate your phone call. That’s well thought out and researched question. It is the essence of everything we do. You say what role statistics play in the management of a football game, a football program. In my world, it is everything.

And you will hear people say statistics are for losers. Usually losers are the one who’s saying that (made my day ).

Statistics are very important and we. There are times, there is one thing that is not statistically analyzed. It is momentum. Momentum, to me, when you deal with young people. They are maybe inexperienced teams at some positions, it is even greater. So the higher level, think about this, the higher level football you get, momentum is not quite as much as a factor. [...]

So we do play a game of statistics where we try to manage the game, try to force the team to drive the length of the field, take care of the football. Once you cross the fifty, that’s where you get more aggressive in play calling. However, there is times that we run a faked punt against Nebraska. That was not a statistically well-thoughtout play. However, we were in the quick sand and we were heading into the bad way against a good offense. So you need that momentum shift for your team. [......]

It was an interesting description of what statistics can do and cannot. Statistics and Momentum.

It reminded me a post, Winning with numbers, I wrote about Russ Rose around this time last year. Russ is the head coach of Penn State women’s volleyball. by coaching with numbers, he is the coach with the highest winning percentage among all NCAA sports. Interestingly, he also holds a master’s degree from Nebraska, where he wrote his thesis on volleyball statistics.

By the way, Ohio States are playing at Penn States this weekend. Go Buckeyes!

Now, what I really wonder is if momentum has anything to do with numbers that statistician can measure and study as well By a quick search on the internet, I found this:

It may have been a new actor on Apple’s stage on Tuesday, but the script was familiar. Start with some momentum statistics, show off the new software, end with a look at the new hardware and then give product specifics.

Here we go, momentum statistics!

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