LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Rocky Long of the San Diego State Aztecs looks on as his team takes on the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 45-19. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
SDSU head football coach Rocky Long has earned the reputation as a bit of a gambler. It is not without reason.
For better or worse, regardless of circumstances like field position, time left on the clock, or score of the game, Long is probably going to let his offense try and go for it on 4th down instead of punting or kicking a field goal.
“My philosophy is that any time you can make it on fourth down you go for it, no matter what the situation is in the game," said Long on the eve of the Aztecs' Famous Idaho Potato Bowl appearance against Buffalo (which kicks off at 2:30 San Diego time on Saturday afternoon on ESPN).
And don't think any kind of statistical mumbo jumbo, or logic, is going to change his ways, either.
"I’m not a believer in football 101, what is described as doing it the right way or the proper way or the statistically right way," said Long. "I’m not built that way. Any time I think our offense can make it on fourth down, we’re going to go for it."
Or, as Han Solo put it: "Never tell me the odds!"
In 2013, Long told his team to go for it on 4th down 35 times. Only Cal eschewed its special teams more often, going for it 38 times on 4th down. But, it's not all just emotion and testosterone with Rocky. He has a legitimate reason for his decisions.
"We went for a lot more fourth downs this year than we would normally go for because our kickers have really struggled," said Long.
He's right on there. The Aztecs did, indeed struggle in the kicking game in 2013, only making 8 field goals. Only two of the 125 FBS schools made fewer (Louisiana-Monroe and Temple). So, when you look at the numbers, it's not hard to fault Rocky for his aggressive attitude.
"If there’s any question about going for it or kicking a field goal, we’re going to go for it."
Win or lose, that sure does make the games more exciting to watch.