FOOTBALL

Why did Florida go for two at Tennessee twice in fourth quarter? Billy Napier explains

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports
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During Monday's news conference, first-year Florida football coach Billy Napier revealed why he went for two-point conversions twice off touchdowns in the fourth quarter Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers.

The answer is based in analytics. On Florida's first touchdown, which cut Tennessee's lead to 38-27, Napier opted to go for two with 4:49 remaining rather than a more sure-fire extra point that would have cut the lead to 38-28.

"There's two avenues, when you really dig into the numbers, about the approach there," Napier said. "First of all, you start talking about playing for a tie, right? When you're on the road, there's a slight advantage for the home team in overtime, and there's certainly a bigger advantage when you're a two-score favorite. I think it's around 63 percent advantage if you're the home team playing overtime, and you're a two score favorite. So that goes into your decision-making."

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Playing for the win and not a tie

Tennessee entered the game a 10.5-point favorite. But the Gators were able to cut into the lead again when quarterback Anthony Richardson connected with wide receiver Ricky Pearsall on a touchdown pass with 17 seconds left.

Down 38-33, Florida tried to go for two again, but was unsuccessful. Then, Florida linebacker Diwun Black made a terrific athletic play to recover an onside kick. But down 38-33, Florida needed a touchdown to win the game, and didn't have enough time to drive for the game-winning score.

Had the Gators been down 38-35 by making both extra point attempts, they could have gotten in field goal range in the closing seconds for a potential game-tying attempt to force overtime. But Napier, who went 5 for 6 on fourth downs throughout the game, was playing to win in regulation.

"Ultimately, the numbers are going to tell you to go for two at the end of the game anyway to win the game," Napier said. "So you're just declaring the path quicker, and that gives you a chance to adjust your strategy the rest of the game.

"This is pretty common in this era. Probably the last five years, this has happened a number of times. I think it's all well thought out of, and really going into the game we're very aware of all the go for two situations and what goes with that."

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