Stan Granch lives in Southern California and is a great resource for many high school coaches as he has been a salesman for many different products we all use and need. What many don't know about Granch is that he has a very exciting weekend job: he's the head statistician for the Los Angeles Rams, USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins.
With the Rams making the Super Bowl this season, Granch was busy tracking Jared Goff's completion percentage and Todd Gurley's total yardage as Los Angeles advanced all the way to Super Bowl LIII.
High school coaches are so busy with so many things on game day that they often don't think about the importance of stat keeping. Granch, who once worked for MaxPreps, gives some important insight into how you can better serve your student-athletes and the importance of keeping good stats.
What is your advice about organizing a stat crew at the high school level?
The best way would be to find a couple of adults (to do complete stats right during a live game generally requires two people or one very good one) who are connected to the school, but don't have children in the program. Look for teachers, recent graduates, alumni, etc. If you can't find an adult, then try to find two students. I'd start with the in-coming freshmen so you wouldn't have to worry about it every year.
The NCAA posts the rules for stat keeping every year and it's easy to download, it is roughly 18 pages. As for forms, all of the forms I use, and created, for USC and the Los Angeles Rams are electronic and I'd be happy to send them to coaches who'd like a copy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are some solid stat-keeping scorebooks you can buy at retail stores, but they all are missing the most important form: the drive chart, which is a short-hand summary of the play. If none of these options work, you can always keep stats after the game on Hudl, but you run the risk of missing places, not being sure where the ball is spotted, etc.
What are some of the most common mistakes you've seen at the high school level for stats?
The worst place to keep stats is on the field and yet that's often where I see people trying to do it. The best place is as high in the facility as you can get. It's easier to spot the ball and it's easily the best place to do defense.
Defense is the one category almost nobody can get right. Almost every play — 99.9 percent — has a tackle and according the rules you can only have one tackle or two assists, that's it. But I see so many inflated tackle numbers. It drives me crazy. However, the opposite is true of big defensive plays; they are often under reported. For example — a defensive end sacks the quarterback and in the process causes a fumble which he picks up and returns for a touchdown. I have seen this play just scored as a sack. However, the reality is that it's a tackle, a tackle for loss (with the yards), a sack (with the yards), forced fumble, fumble recovery with return yards and of course a touchdown.
The other confusion seems to be how do penalties impact a play. So a basic rule of thumb is if the penalty is being enforced at the line of scrimmage or behind it, the play is "nullified." Meaning it never happened and thus no stats are earned.
If the penalty is enforced down the field (like an illegal block in the back), the ball carry gets the yards from the line of scrimmage (or where he started the return) to the point of the penalty. So you could get a run/return for one yard even though they scored a touchdown. Since there was a penalty on the offense there would be no defensive stats to award.Why should coaches care to keep accurate stats?
Obviously the game film is more important than the stats, but what statistics show you is what worked and what needs to be improved. Often, it reinforces what you thought you were seeing, but sometimes it exposes things you didn't realize during the heat of the game.
Maybe you thought you were doing a good job on third-down efficiency, only to discover you were 3-for-12 for the game; now you know what to work on during the week. Stats are facts, they aren't judgments and you can't argue with them, so long as they are accurate.
If you have a player having a big year, you want to make sure they are getting the credit they deserve. Stats aren't a recruiting tool (although some defensive coaches do a quick look for game-breaking players, those with a lot of tackles for loss, forced fumbles, etc.), but it does give you a general idea how you stack up to the rest of your league.On game day, how can coaches stay organized?
A coach has a ton to worry about so the only thing I'd recommend is to make sure you stat keeper has free admission to the game, and if possible, a place either in the press box, on top of it or at the top of the grandstand that is reserved for them to do their job. The other thing you should do is make sure to give them any roster changes (was someone called up, did they change uniform numbers, etc.).Chris Fore is a veteran head football coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.