Sunday, October 16, 2011

4th and 1 the Turning Point

The NFL has a new show called the Turning Point, it is based on the one play in a football game that dictates the outcome.  That play in the Michigan - MSU game was the 4 and 1 play call in the 4th quarter with Michigan down by 7 points in the MSU red zone after a Spartan turnover.

Normally a turning point has one mistake like a fumble or an interception.   I am here to prove there were a ton of huge mistakes on just this one play.

Mistake #1:  Comes at the end of 3rd down.  I thought Gallon got a terrible spot on his reception.  It seemed to me he was on the 1st down mark when he caught the ball and the tackler pushed him back.  The spot should have reflected the forward progress.  There was an opportunity to challenge the spot, the Michigan coaches did not. 

Mistake #2:  This mistake comes straight from Coach Hoke.   No timeout was called.  Per his press conference:    Looked like you were trying to call timeout. Did you see something you didn’t like? “Yeah, I saw the 25-second clock rolling to zero. I think we got away with one, to be honest with you.”  I'm not sure the result of that play call was "getting away with something".

Mistake #3:  Play Call:  This is the biggest mistake of them all.  From Coach Hoke:  What happened on that fourth-and-one call? We’ve gotten many first downs with that play. Same play. The guy jumps, we send the one guy in motion. We’ve gotten touchdowns, too. This was just an extension of that play.”

Why was this the worst call possible?  A number of reasons:

  1. You have the most dynamic player in football, you need less then a yard and you have him passing the ball?  (I assume it was a pass play).   Denard had been having trouble throwing the ball all day and that is the play when the game is on the line?  I would rather have the ball in Denard's hand trying to get a first down then faking a hand off and doing the hidden ball trick. 
  2. The fake does not work with Denard.  Why, because Denard is a running QB and the key to the entire MSU defense.  When you fake the hand off and do the hidden ball trick, all that does is let the MSU DB make up ground hitting him.   I am willing to bet, Denard could beat that DB to the corner and pick up the first down and probably a touchdown.   You can't do a delayed fake with all of MSU defense a yard away.  That play works with a QB that doesn't run and is expected to hand the ball off.  Not Denard. 
Mistake #4:  The safest call is to kick the field goal.  Why? Because now if Michigan gets another stop on defense they have a chance to win the game with a touchdown.    Since it was 4th and 1, I agree with going for it but with a better play call.  

This is how you lose games, by not understanding the importance of the key play of the game.   I think Hoke should have called a time out and made sure the right play and personnel was called.  In fact, he should have challenged the spot, so he could of had time to confirm the right call.   If, he wins the challenge he keeps the time out.   I understand Al makes the call but it's up to the head coach to confirm that is what he wants on such a key play.

I know it's easy being a Sunday morning QB, but damn there was a ton of options available to the Michigan coaches and they didn't take any of them.


uncle ron said...

I couldn't agree with you more Bob, if Denard had only given the ball off to Fitz he would have had the first down, because everybody in the country new Denard would be the one to handle the ball in that situation, especially MSU's defense. Fitz cleared everybody with the fake dive up the middle, the linebackers were too busy blitzing to do anything with him up in the middle....just saying

Chris said...

I disagree. Desmond Howard became a legend on an aggressive 4th and 1 play call against Notre Dame, and the only difference with that play is that it worked...and just barely. Also, Borges had good reason to hesitate with a run call up the middle as MSU was jumping the snap count and stuffing the run. I like that Hoke was playing to win. It takes guts to make aggressive calls like that because you will get second guessed if it doesn't work. In order for this Michigan team to win, being more conservative is not the solution.