One of the most important parts of being a good football team is understanding how important field position is to your success. With only two downs to achieve a first down, sometimes it is very hard to string together enough consecutive first downs to drive the long fields in the CFL and score touchdowns. That is why it is so important for teams to do a number of things to help offences play on a short field. Lets look at a few examples from this season. The league-wide statistics chart scoring by field position and when you study them they show some interesting things. Teams are scoring a touchdown once in every eight drives on the average; TD percentage is basically 12 per cent of drives score. Calgary is at the top end of that stat, scoring touchdowns on 21 per cent of their possessions and Ottawa is at the bottom end with seven per cent of TDs by number of possessions. PERCENTAGE BY POSSESSION TOUCHDOWNS POSSESSIONS PER CENT League Wide 184 1497 12 Highest - Calgary 34 164 21 Lowest - Ottawa 10 146 7 Lets talk about how field position can factor into scoring for a team. When teams have to start their drives inside their own 20-yard line it is much harder to score. For the league, average scoring from there happens at a rate of 10 per cent of the time. Hamilton has one touchdown in 30 possessions or a three per cent average of scoring. Edmonton has two TDs in 27 possessions for eight per cent scoring and one of the most telling is that Saskatchewan has not scored a TD in 28 possessions that started inside the 20-yard line. Calgary is the only anomaly because they still score at a rate of 21 per cent inside the 20 yard line (eight TDs in 37 possessions) Starting inside your own 20-yard line: TEAM TOUCHDOWNS POSSESSIONS PER CENT Hamilton 1 30 3 Edmonton 2 27 8 Saskatchewan 0 28 0 Calgary 8 37 21 That is a telling sign about the Saskatchewan Roughriders that they have trouble going the length of the field to score touchdowns. Do your best to be able to make sure that they start inside their own 20 and you will prevent them from scoring TDs. Lets talk about teams from their own 21 to their own 49 yard line. Hamilton jumps from three per cent to 12 per cent scoring, Edmonton goes up a small amount from eight per cent to 10 per cent and Saskatchewan goes up the most from 0 per cent to 10 per cent in that part of the field. That is why it is so important to be able to put offences as far backed up as possible to prevent their odds of scoring. Starting from your own 21-49 yard line: TEAM TOUCHDOWNS POSSESSIONS PER CENT Hamilton 13 107 12 Edmonton 12 118 10 Saskatchewan 11 113 13 Calgary 14 97 14 Lastly, lets talk about when you start a drive in the opponents end of the field. That would be from inside their own 54-yard line. It is now a shorter field and usually you get to be in this part of the field because of a Special Teams play, a punt return or blocked punt or a defensive takeaway. That is why takeaways are such a telling stat. Usually takeaways put you in position to score on a short field or they take points away from the team going in to score and put you on a long field. Scoring in this part of the field happens 29 per cent of the time based on the stats this year. Hamilton actually has had problems scoring on a short field with only a 15 per cent average. Calgary had the most drives in that part of the field and had a 40 per cent scoring rate, Edmonton was at 33 per cent and the Riders were 42 per cent - best in the CFL for scoring. Do not give the Riders a short field or else they will score TDs. Ottawa has only had 10 possessions starting inside the opponents end which is 10 less than the next team. Starting from Opponents End TEAM TOUCHDOWNS POSSESSIONS PER CENT Hamilton 3 20 15 Edmonton 9 27 33 Saskatchewan 9 21 43 Calgary 12 30 40 So what does all this mean in the big picture? A few points are that it is to your advantage to have a kicker who can boom the ball deep on kickoffs. There is a huge difference when a kicker can put the ball to the 5-yard line compared to the 25-yard line. On special teams in general you are trying to win the yardage battle by netting more yards than your opponent through the course of the game to get yourself closer to the goal line. Offences can help by stringing first down drives together to get you closer to your goal line. A lot of drives dont always score but the change in field position may mean the following offensive drive will score. Teams that dont get a lot of first downs offensively tend to play on a long field because they dont advance the ball toward their goal area. Lastly, defences help in two ways. Creating turnovers a lot of times puts offences on short fields to flip the field position and when you prevent offences from getting first downs you stop their ability to march and gain field position to their goal line. This week, when your team scores a touchdown rewind the PVR and see where and how the drive started, and you will understand field position scoring a lot better. Anthony Averett Ravens Jersey
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