Pregame: Illinois vs Charlotte, Saturday, October 2nd, 11:00am CT, BTN

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#128      
So, you're saying 35 yds of field position doesn't matter. Hmm...

Good coaches PREACH the importance of winning field position over the course of the game (for instance, through kick coverage exchanges). I submit that >1/3 the length of the field is NOT "relatively minor." Your methodology for calculating the odds on that one is fundamentally flawed.

Add to that your concession that "your defense can still stop them" if you go for it and fail, undermines the premise of your argument that field position "is relatively minor."

If you deem your defense solid enough to stop them from driving 60 yards to score, then your confidence in your defense to stop them from driving 95 yards to score is reasonably deemed to be even higher, right? And so the "odds" calculation for winning the game goes to stopping them from driving 80 yards (should the ensuing punt result in a touchback) versus turning the ball over on downs (which would be a significant negative momentum shift) and being able to stop them from driving 60 yards. But it's MORE than merely field position that you must take into account. The defense was having more success than the offense on the whole.

My point being, one cannot make a formulaic assessment of the "odds" as you suggest. It was a reasonable decision to punt--even if one could argue the alternative that taking a calculated risk to go for it was also reasonable . . . based, ironically, on the defense's demonstrated ability to stop Purdue throughout the game (ha!). So get off your high horse on this one. BB's decision to punt and play D is not what cost the team the game.
Yes, compared to possession of the ball, field position is minor. 2 minutes left and you have all your timeouts, you're down by 6. You can A) have the ball on your own 5 or B) you can give the ball to your opponent on their own 20. Which do you choose? If you value field possition so much, you should choose B so you can get the stop and get the ball back in better position, right? I'd wager almost everyone would take the ball though. Hard to score without it.

Let's say if your opponent gets the ball at their 40 there's an 80% chance you stop them from scoring a touchdown, and if they get it at the 5 that goes up to a 90%. That's a pretty significant difference. Then let's say your chances of getting the two yards for a 4th and 2 is only 60% (probably higher in real life but I'm giving your position the benefit of the doubt here). So there's a 40% chance you end up worse off, and that's what you're trying to avoid. I get that. But let's do the math. Even in that 40% chance, there's an 80% chance your defense succeeds, right? 40x.8=32. So a 60% chance you keep the ball, 32% chance they get the ball at the 40 and don't score the TD, and an 8% chance they get the ball at the 40 and score the TD. You see how that's better than 90% chance you stop them and 10% chance you don't, even though it might not look it at first?

Disclaimer: I'm not saying these are the acutal odds, just illustrating a point. Smarter people than I have analyzed this and found the odds are significantly in favor of going for it, just trying to show an example of how that might look.
 
#129      
Thanks, perhaps that link works for me since I have an account there. This is the invite link to the global Agent49 board. If you have a discord account already, it should take you there. The sidebar organizes discussions by topic and #football has a sub-thread for the game.

Thanks for the invite. Do you know if they are discussing punting on 4th and 2 at the opponent's 34 yard line late in the game? This is so riveting I hate to tear myself away unless there will be equally good content.
 
#132      
I had to miss last week’s game (and emotionally “forgot” about it on purpose), so I’m especially sad/alarmed to see such pessimistic comments after we almost beat Purdue on the road. Just from following the play by play, I’m guessing part of that frustration is losing yet another winnable game … but the concerning part is that I’ve seen our fans react somewhat positively when we are coming up just short but showing improvement during a rebuilding process. So, we must really look bad. :(

Are people actually thinking we drop this one, too?? I’d have to say, that would really be an emotional dagger, regardless of how good these guys are whom they’ve beaten.
 
#133      
I had to miss last week’s game (and emotionally “forgot” about it on purpose), so I’m especially sad/alarmed to see such pessimistic comments after we almost beat Purdue on the road. Just from following the play by play, I’m guessing part of that frustration is losing yet another winnable game … but the concerning part is that I’ve seen our fans react somewhat positively when we are coming up just short but showing improvement during a rebuilding process. So, we must really look bad. :(

Are people actually thinking we drop this one, too?? I’d have to say, that would really be an emotional dagger, regardless of how good these guys are whom they’ve beaten.
I said this prior to the UTSA game: the casual fan will see the name of the team beating Illinois and laugh, thinking nothing has changed. UTSA or Charlotte could be 12-0 at the end of the season, but casual fans will see them as "lesser" teams that beat us.

I agree that a loss to Charlotte could be devastating from that standpoint. It will be hard to eliminate fan apathy at that point and could take a major upset or two to spark any sort of interest. Wins against Maryland and Purdue had the chance to eliminate the bad feeling from the UTSA game, but they have instead angered the involved fans who are upset with dumb decisions made during the game. That's how I see it at least.
 
#136      
I think having McCray and brown splitting most of the carries instead of that 4-5 back rotation we saw when everyone was healthy will be more effective. It seemed like McCray really benefited from being able to get into a rhythm. This way we can keep him fresh and not lose much when brown comes in.
 
#137      
Paducah, Ky

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Josh McCray has been on a meteoric rise at Illinois. In a matter of weeks the true freshman tailback has gone from not playing at all in the season opener to a historic performance last week at Purdue.
McCray totaled 24 carries for 156 yards (6.5 yards per carry) against the Boilermakers to notch the first 100-yard rushing game of his career in the Illini’s 13-9 loss. He started in place of injured fourth-year running back Chase Brown, becoming the first true freshman to start at running back for Illinois since 2017, and delivered the fifth-most rushing yards by a true freshman in a single game in program history.

McCray stated last week that “arm tackles don’t phase me,” and his claim seems to be holding true. According to Pro Football Focus, 150 of the freshman’s 156 rushing yards at Purdue were after contact, which were the most in all of college football last week.

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very impressive
 
#138      
I know BB said McCray was initially working through some culture shock coming from Alabama. I wonder what that was like for him. Coming from the Chicago area I thought the pace of life in Champaign seemed to slow, I wonder if it seems like a million miles an hour to him. The southern pace of life is snail like.
 
#139      
Yes, compared to possession of the ball, field position is minor. 2 minutes left and you have all your timeouts, you're down by 6. You can A) have the ball on your own 5 or B) you can give the ball to your opponent on their own 20. Which do you choose? If you value field possition so much, you should choose B so you can get the stop and get the ball back in better position, right? I'd wager almost everyone would take the ball though. Hard to score without it.

Let's say if your opponent gets the ball at their 40 there's an 80% chance you stop them from scoring a touchdown, and if they get it at the 5 that goes up to a 90%. That's a pretty significant difference. Then let's say your chances of getting the two yards for a 4th and 2 is only 60% (probably higher in real life but I'm giving your position the benefit of the doubt here). So there's a 40% chance you end up worse off, and that's what you're trying to avoid. I get that. But let's do the math. Even in that 40% chance, there's an 80% chance your defense succeeds, right? 40x.8=32. So a 60% chance you keep the ball, 32% chance they get the ball at the 40 and don't score the TD, and an 8% chance they get the ball at the 40 and score the TD. You see how that's better than 90% chance you stop them and 10% chance you don't, even though it might not look it at first?

Disclaimer: I'm not saying these are the acutal odds, just illustrating a point. Smarter people than I have analyzed this and found the odds are significantly in favor of going for it, just trying to show an example of how that might look.
With all due respect, your first paragraph makes no sense. One accurate point you did make is "these are not actual odds." I'll give you that!

Even so, your formulaic approach belies the multiplicity of random variables involved, the outcomes of which are not knowable. Hence your predictive odds are, in many respects, predicated upon an assumed distribution of multiple factors based on past similar, but not exactly alike, circumstances. Extrapolating your reasoning to its logical end one would come to the necessary conclusion that for best results a coach should ALWAYS--without exception--play the odds, i.e., at all times, in all situations--praying (of course) that the statistical analysis upon which the odds the coach is playing is accurate. If you disagree with that statement, then you are injecting judgment into the equation--moreover, a form of judgment that is based (presumably reasonably) on more than merely the science of the so-called "odds."

There is a reason football contains so many war metaphors, because it relies upon both strategy and tactics to win. Employing effective strategy and tactics is both an art and a science. Otherwise, why would a team ever fake a FG (given the odds)? Or ever run any play that had a low (or in some cases merely an even) probability of achieving the desired result, be it throwing the "bomb," or "blitzing" the corner, or simply charging straight ahead in a ground attack? So, the question -- and the fun -- becomes assessing whether the coach's decision was reasonable, given the situation, not whether it turned out to be the best decision. In the heat of "battle" there is an art to decision-making that goes beyond mere odds (especially generalized odds vice observable odds in context of the game being played).

Again, I say judging a coach's decision-making is poorly construed if one is holding a generalized odds chart to the proverbial feet of the coach.
 
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#140      
Oh, and all of this "strategy and tactics" and "odds" discussion is not meant to dismiss the other HALF of the equation --> the Jimmies and Joes that must execute the decisions made.

For it's not all X's & O's, as you admit in your own assessment that RB McCray would've made the yard to gain (I'm assuming you also meant to imply a reasonable belief that he would have been aided by the sufficiently well-executed blocking of his teammates on the OL, including the TEs).
 
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#141      
With all due respect, your first paragraph makes no sense. One accurate point you did make is "these are not actual odds." I'll give you that!

Even so, your formulaic approach belies the multiplicity of random variables involved, the outcomes of which are not knowable. Hence your predictive odds are, in many respects, predicated upon an assumed distribution of multiple factors based on past similar, but not exactly alike, circumstances. Extrapolating your reasoning to its logical end one would come to the necessary conclusion that for best results a coach should ALWAYS--without exception--play the odds, i.e., at all times, in all situations--praying (of course) that the statistical analysis upon which the odds the coach is playing is accurate. If you disagree with that statement, then you are injecting judgment into the equation--moreover, a form of judgment that is based (presumably reasonably) on more than merely the science of the so-called "odds."

There is a reason football contains so many war metaphors, because it relies upon both strategy and tactics to win. Employing effective strategy and tactics is both an art and a science. Otherwise, why would a team ever fake a FG (given the odds)? Or ever run any play that had a low (or in some cases merely an even) probability of achieving the desired result, be it throwing the "bomb," or "blitzing" the corner, or simply charging straight ahead in a ground attack? So, the question -- and the fun -- becomes assessing whether the coach's decision was reasonable, given the situation, not whether it turned out to be the best decision. In the heat of "battle" there is an art to decision-making that goes beyond mere odds (especially generalized odds vice observable odds in context of the game being played).

Again, I say judging a coaches decision-making is poorly construed if one is holding a generalized odds chart to the proverbial feet of the coach.
Whether you know it or not every coach is playing the odds - you wouldn't run a play or make a decision you didn't think increased your chance of winning. The only difference is that some play the odds based on their gut feeling, others based on data (most probably a combination of the two). When BB punted he played the odds. He thought that move increased his chance of winning. But tons of actual data says he was wrong.

I think you are confusing what people on here are saying. Nobody is saying that by playing the odds you need to choose only plays with high probability of success every time. 1. That's impossible and 2. The point is to increase your chances of winning. It is 100% consistent with playing the odds to sprinkle in a 40 yard pass attempt. Succeeding in that pass attempt greatly increases your odds of winning the game, whereas one incomplete pass probably has a negligible effect on the odds of winning. So even though it has a low probability of success, on average it might increase your chance of winning the game.

Statistical analysis is a part of sports these days whether you like it or not, and the coaches that utilize it have shown to be more successful than those who don't. It's a valuable tool. It's like blackjack. You can just go with your gut feel or you can play "by the book." I've done both. Both are fun. But I've done a lot (and I mean a LOT) better when I play by the book. Of course there are going to be many many situations where the data is not clear or is unhelpful. The frustrating thing is these 4th and short decisions were not that type of situation.
 
#142      
Winged Warrior
Charlotte fan/alum here. Looking forward to the game for a number of reasons. Always great to get road tested against P5 teams to see how you stack up when lights are bright and pressure is high. We're off to a rollicking start, despite laying an egg on the road, in the rain, against a better-than-their-record Georgia State team.

We play a staggered tempo, fun and gun style. QB Chris Reynolds is easily the best we've had in that position in our short history. Has a decent arm, good vision, and can create. We give him option calls about 20-30% of the time. RB by committee. Camp (Bruiser), Byrd (Speedster), McEachern (Patient Cutter). Byrd and Camp are serviceable flat receivers, too.

Our strongest position group is WR. We have two candidates for Sundays, Victor Tucker and Grant Dubose. Both have big play speed and hands. Our TE Taylor Thompson is making a leap this year as a sophomore. Reminds us of Greg Olsen in build and ability to catch and immediately turn downfield in one motion. His hands and strength are developing but you cannot teach his size and determination.

In the trenches, we are just ok on both sides of the ball. Lost a lot to graduation and portal last year, but yung'ns coming along nicely. Decent size but footwork, hands, and smarts are all in the early aughts for most of them.

We rely upon our offense to put up big numbers because our defense can be pretty suspect, especially stopping the run. We get in ruts where we can't stop a nosebleed and usually, good coaches will exploit it until we sell it out, and then we start getting beat over the top on the sidelines. This was the GaSt playbook to a T and we could never quite adjust. Duke ran all over us but we were able to better pressure their QB on dropbacks and it covered a lot of weaknesses in our secondary by never allowing him to get the ball in the air. We didn't get that pressure in the backfield against GaSt or MTSU, but thankfully we could score a billion against MTSU while we really struggled to move the ball in the rain at GaSt.

Certainly do not expect we will be underestimated in this game by Illinois, especially after losing to UTSA. We fortunately avoided them and UAB from C-USA West Div this year, so a win for us this weekend would be a massive boon, not only for perception's sake to have two P5 wins in the same season, but 4-1 with 7 games to go almost assuredly has us on track for our second bowl appearance in program history.

I'll be watching from afar, but hoping for nice weather, no injuries, and an entertaining game.

The most active discussion board if you want to join us is Agent49's discord, and here is a link to the game thread: https://discord.com/channels/619372802729967616/892064769786408970

So, how's your punt return unit?

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#143      
If our defense has really improved and not just a mirage I think we win this game by more than 10 .
 
#147      
Like others have said, I'm looking forward to the Chase Brown / McCray combination at RB. Those look like the two best RB's, and have different strengths.

I sure hope we can get Witherspoon and Hansen back though, we'll need a good game from our defense again this week.
 
#148      
With all due respect, your first paragraph makes no sense. One accurate point you did make is "these are not actual odds." I'll give you that!

Even so, your formulaic approach belies the multiplicity of random variables involved, the outcomes of which are not knowable. Hence your predictive odds are, in many respects, predicated upon an assumed distribution of multiple factors based on past similar, but not exactly alike, circumstances. Extrapolating your reasoning to its logical end one would come to the necessary conclusion that for best results a coach should ALWAYS--without exception--play the odds, i.e., at all times, in all situations--praying (of course) that the statistical analysis upon which the odds the coach is playing is accurate. If you disagree with that statement, then you are injecting judgment into the equation--moreover, a form of judgment that is based (presumably reasonably) on more than merely the science of the so-called "odds."

There is a reason football contains so many war metaphors, because it relies upon both strategy and tactics to win. Employing effective strategy and tactics is both an art and a science. Otherwise, why would a team ever fake a FG (given the odds)? Or ever run any play that had a low (or in some cases merely an even) probability of achieving the desired result, be it throwing the "bomb," or "blitzing" the corner, or simply charging straight ahead in a ground attack? So, the question -- and the fun -- becomes assessing whether the coach's decision was reasonable, given the situation, not whether it turned out to be the best decision. In the heat of "battle" there is an art to decision-making that goes beyond mere odds (especially generalized odds vice observable odds in context of the game being played).

Again, I say judging a coach's decision-making is poorly construed if one is holding a generalized odds chart to the proverbial feet of the coach.
EasyR is exactly right. While on average, a certain course of action may be superior, it's the coach's responsibility to make the best decision based on his own team's strengths and weaknesses, and how those match up with the opposing team. In other words, no matchup is "average." There are many variables, and going with the decision that an average calculation supports isn't always the best option.

That said, like all fans, I support going for it on 4th down and replacing whichever QB is currently playing.
 
#149      
EasyR is exactly right. While on average, a certain course of action may be superior, it's the coach's responsibility to make the best decision based on his own team's strengths and weaknesses, and how those match up with the opposing team. In other words, no matchup is "average." There are many variables, and going with the decision that an average calculation supports isn't always the best option.

That said, like all fans, I support going for it on 4th down and replacing whichever QB is currently playing.
This is true, you have to take the data, and apply it to your real world situation, with all necessary adjustments. I don't think anyone is actually arguing otherwise. But if you really don't think your offense is capable of moving the ball one or two yards a play against an opposing defense, you may as well just go ahead and punt on 1st down and hope your defense scores you some points I guess. FWIW our average yards per play against Purdue was 4.
 
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