Computer may help dictate best play to call in any game situation in football

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Washington, September 12 (ANI): Researchers have developed a new computer model for football that would be able to take the play-calling load off of the coach and, through fast, real-time analysis of all the offensive and defensive possibilities, dictate the best play to call in any game situation.

Operations researcher Sharif Melouk and applied statistician Marcus Perry, both from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, collaborated with a graduate student to apply techniques often used to allocate resources in contexts like business and antiterrorist protection efforts to football play calling.

The program takes the human element out of play calling and instead uses mathematical and statistical techniques.

The new model analyzes what the opposing team is likely to do and chooses the play that will best counter it in a given game situation.

"The offense knows all the different sorts of plays they could call for a particular situation, and they're also going to know what all the different types of defenses that the defense could throw at them," said Melouk.

"The end result of the procedure is that you come out with some reward or some value to that particular play," he added.

If coaches can enter accurate data into the model, then it will be effective.

The better the data, the better the performance of the model will be.

Removing the human element from play calling may improve the team's performance, or at least provide a basis from which to compare and analyze play calling.

One interesting feature of the model is that it can reveal what both teams should do, which is called the Nash equilibrium, after the Nobel laureate John Nash.

"Basically, player two (the defense) is looking to minimize the maximum gain of player one (the offense), and player one is looking to maximize the minimum gain of player two," said Melouk.

"There's one point that tells you each of these players should do this one thing and they shouldn't deviate from this particular strategy," he added.

When there are two players in a game where both are attempting to stop the other one, sometimes it's best to seek guaranteed modest gains instead of doing something risky.

"If we knew what play, however, that the opponent was going to choose, then we could maximize our gain," said Perry.

"But we might be able to choose a play ... such that, hey, it doesn't matter what they choose. We're still going to get this particular level of gain regardless," he added. (ANI)

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