This Football Coach Does Not Like To Punt And His Football Team Is Undefeated This Year


This past offseason the Philadelphia Eagles made a bold move in bringing onboard former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly’s spread offense was ideal for the college game, but many pundits thought it might not translate to the NFL. The reviews on Kelly have been mixed, but if the Eagles really wanted to make a splash, perhaps they should have turned to a different Kelly, specifically Kevin Kelley…aka the coach who never punts.

Kevin Kelley is the head coach of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, AR, and to say he’s a little unorthodox is like saying Kate Upton is decent looking. In a three year span from 2009 to 2011, Kelley’s teams punted only three times — all after building up a huge lead on their opponents. Besides never punting, Kelley also calls for an onside kick on almost every kickoff and doesn’t believe in fielding an opponent’s kick. Kelley doesn’t consider himself some sort of mad genius or a Madden football enthusiast, he simply believes in playing the numbers game.

Kelley uses a bevy of statistics and data to defend his strategy. For instance, he states that the kicking team has a 1 in 3 chance of recovering an onside kick and in High School Football the difference between a failed onside recovery and a kick return is the 47 yard line compared to the 33. Kelley believes 14 yards is worth the 2 in 3 chance of the other team fielding the ball. Kelley also believes a roughing the kicker call is statistically more likely than a blocked punt so he never sends players after the ball on a punt. The same strategy applies to fielding punts as the odds are more likely of a muffed punt rather than a long return so Kelley rarely sends a receiver back.

The thing about Kelley’s innovative approach is that it works. Pulaski has won three state titles in his 9 years on the job and are 10-0 this season (104-20-1 overall). In a 2011 game Pulaski was up 29-0 before the opposing team even touched the ball. While almost everyone agrees that this type of strategy would never work in the NFL or college football, it’s definitely fun to watch. Kelley might be content using his number mining skills to keep winning high school football championships. The reason for this is that the media, which scrutinizes an NCAA coach for going for it on 4th and 1, would have a field day with the guy who opted to try his luck on 4th and 19.