FanPost

Why Hugh Freeze was correct on every 4th down call against Alabama

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

In this article, I will show with math and common sense why Hugh Freeze was correct to go for it on 4th down each time. I used the Advanced NFL Stats 4th down calculator for all the math. EP is expected points and WP is win probability. Also keep in mind that the field goal success rate and accompanying field goal stats will also be higher in these charts since it accounts for NFL quality kickers, which Andrew Ritter is not.

Scenario 1

12:50 left in the 1st Quarter 0-0 4th and 2 Ball on the Alabama 29

Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.60 - 0.64
EP Success +3.55 0.21 2.4
EP Fail: -0.85 - -1.2
EP Total: 1.79 0.21 1.10
Break-Even: 0.44
Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.60 - 0.64
WP Success 0.62 0.50 0.59
WP Fail: 0.47 - 0.46
WP Total: 0.56 0.50 0.54
Break-Even: 0.49

In the first scenario, a field goal is decent, but going for it was definitely the right move. We see that going for it would produce 1.79 points and a 56% win probability and a field goal 1.10 points and a 54% win probability. You also see that the success rate for a field goal is only 4% higher than going for it on 4th down, and that is with an NFL quality kicker. Against Alabama, Coach Freeze was looking to accumulate as many points as possible and he correctly went for it on 4th down. The play also should have been a first down since Treadwell made it past the marker before his forward progress was stopped, but the result has no bearing on the correctness of the decision.

Scenario 2

3:35 left in the 3rd Quarter 16-0 4th and 2 Ball on the Alabama 7

Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.55 - 0.96
EP Success +5.37 0.21 2.4
EP Fail: 0.34 - -0.04
EP Total: 3.11 0.21 2.31
Break-Even: 0.39
Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.55 - 0.96
WP Success 0.13 0.02 0.05
WP Fail: 0.02 - 0.02
WP Total: 0.08 0.02 0.05
Break-Even: 0.26

In this second scenario, we see that going for it would produce 3.11 points and an 8% win probability and a field goal 2.31 points and a 5% win probability. On top of that, the Rebels were down two scores and needed two touchdowns to tie. With a success rate of 55% when going for it and the ball being on the 7 yard line, this is a no-brainer go for it call.

Scenario 3

12:35 left in the 4th Quarter 16-0 4th and 10 Ball on the Alabama 18

Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.28 - 0.84
EP Success +4.94 0.21 2.4
EP Fail: -0.26 - -0.58
EP Total: 1.20 0.21 1.91
Break-Even: 0.42
Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.28 - 0.84
WP Success 0.09 0.01 0.04
WP Fail: 0.01 - 0.02
WP Total: 0.03 0.01 0.04
Break-Even: 0.33

In scenario 3, we see that going for it would produce 1.20 points and an 3% win probability and a field goal 1.91 points and a 4% win probability. This was the closest mathematically with a field goal actually giving you more points and a slightly higher win probability because a 4th and 10 is a much harder conversion. But Freeze correctly deduced that the Rebel possessions and time were running out. With a field goal, Ole Miss would still need to score two touchdowns and shutout Bama the rest of the game to win. Freeze realized a touchdown here was clearly his best chance to win the game, and if you look at the win probability for a successful conversion, it jumps all the way up to 9%. A field goal in this scenario would basically be throwing in the towel.

In summation, Hugh Freeze was correct in each of his 4th down calls and his aggressiveness is one of his best traits. Players also love it when you trust them to get a yard or two on 4th down. In the future, I don't doubt that Freeze will continue to be bold and make correct decisions.

Thank you for reading and please comment.

This post is a Red Cup Rebellion FanPost. Please don't sue us.

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