Chip Kelly Thinks Your Time of Possession Questions Are Silly

A reporter asked Chip Kelly about time of possession. He responded with the appropriate amount of levity, then shut him down with precise stats from a game that took place in 2010.

Without descending into nerd-snark, time of possession, by itself, means nothing. Let’s say you are given one stat from next week’s game: Stanford holds the ball for 40 minutes. Predict the outcome based on that. Did Stanford have its way with Oregon, sustaining drives down the field and slowing down the game? Did Stanford get boat-raced up and down the field with Oregon scoring too fast to hold possession? The possession time provides no useful information for determining the outcome.

Looking at national time of possession rankings. Kansas (15th) and Kansas State (16th) are one second per game apart on possession time. Those teams rank 106th and 10th respectively in yards per play offense. Oregon ranks 98th and generally ranks at or near the bottom. What matters is what a team does with the ball, not how long they hold it.

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