Two Point Conversions

Submitted by mvp on September 29th, 2008 at 12:38 AM

I'm still giddy about Saturday.  What a comeback, what a game, what a win!

I did get some texts from friends after we were up 27-19 asking the same question I was thinking: "Don't you wish we had kicked that PAT after the 3rd TD?"  If we kick the PAT, we're up 21-19, then after the subsequent TD would have been up 28-19 leaving Wisconsin needing a TD and a FG.

This is a major pet peeve of mine.  I'd like to know what people's thoughts are about going for the two-point conversion.  Here's my view:

1) In general, unless there is less than ~7 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, don't go for two.

2) Exception #1: You are down so much that the only possible chance you have is multiples of 8.  e.g. There is 1:15 left to go in the third quarter and you're down 24 points.  If you score, go ahead and try for 8 each time.

3) Exception #2: The weather is so bad you might not ever score again.  e.g. Notre Dame two weeks ago:  We are down 28-17 for part of the 2nd quarter and all of the third.  If we had scored a TD late in the third quarter, I might have gone for 2, to get us within 3.  (Alas, that never ended up being one of the things we had to wrestle with that day...)

So once you've got less than half of the fourth quarter to go, pull out your chart that tells you whether or not to go for it; otherwise, kick the PAT, take your point and move on.  I understand that this one is somewhat philosophical.  Sort of like how some coaches will never take the FG off the board even if the penalty would give them a first down.  Or deciding whether to double or just hit your 11 against the dealer's ten.  Maybe the important thing is just being consistent.

Obviously, nobody knew Threet had the 58 yard run in him, or that we'd go score the next TD.  And if we'd gotten the 2, AND the subsequent TD and PAT, then the game would have been REALLY out of reach.  Still, it is still frightening that we were a penalty and some great D-line pressure away from OVERTIME yesterday.



September 29th, 2008 at 12:49 AM ^

But what if things had played out differently: We kick the PAT and its 21-19. Wisconsin charges down the field and kicks a field goal. The Michigan offense reverts back to their first half game plan and refuses to get a first down. Wisconsin doesn't score again either. Time runs out and Wisconsin wins 22-21. Now instead of this diary entry there is one about how we should have gone for two.

I think Rodriguez did the right thing. We had a few good scoring drives, but what was to say we didn't fumble in our own territory again? Our defense played great but you can't expect them to yield ZERO points. Wisconsin could have reasonably scored a field goal, and so I think it was worth it. I'm not exactly sure what happened on the play (it was on the other end of the field), but oh well if I could go back in time I'd go for it again too.


September 29th, 2008 at 3:00 AM ^

I agree, that late in the game, you have to force them to play to you. To go for one would not help us at all. We were winning by one and if we hit the PAT it would be a 2 point game, and a shitty lead to have. Any coach in today's game would go for it. No questions asked.


September 29th, 2008 at 3:19 AM ^

I would say that going for 2 in that situation was absolutely the right call to make. Our offense is not consistent enough to say that we would be able to march down the field again and get another TD, nor is it good enough to be able to mount a clock killing 4-5 minute possession. At that point in the game (10:00 left in the 4th) it's late enough to start thinking about leads.


September 29th, 2008 at 7:24 AM ^

You need to give yourself a chance to win and going for one and being up by 2 does not do that for you at that time. Just because you have had 7 good minutes in the game at that point for scoring, doesnt mean that you are going to continue it.

It would be one thing if we had been moving the ball all day consistently.


September 29th, 2008 at 8:05 AM ^

I immediately felt the same way. But hindsight is, as the say, 20/20. Our offense was terrible for much of the day so before the 2pt try I was totally with the call. That is what matters, how thing seemed when we had to make the call. Being up a FG with our defense is much better than being up 2 and being up 2 was at the time comparable to being up 1. We had no real reason to expect to score another TD.

Blue Durham

September 29th, 2008 at 8:52 AM ^

because of the 1 point differential and only 10 minutes left in the game, but also because the offense was moving the ball pretty well. If the offense wasn't, and Michigan just scored a defensive TD, then I may have thought differently.


September 29th, 2008 at 8:57 AM ^

I must say, I'm pretty sure Rich Rodriguez knows what he's doing so I'm going to agree with the call. Of course, at the end of the game man would that extra point have been great! But you can't look back and wish they had done this or that, he made the best decision at the time.


September 29th, 2008 at 2:28 PM ^

I agree completely.  RichRod knows what he's doing.  The coaches know *way* more than me about football.  I've just had this particular view on going for 2 for a long time and it seems like my thinking has been validated more often than not. 

I'm just mostly interested in other perspectives.  Not so much that RichRod was right, but why he's right...


September 29th, 2008 at 9:17 AM ^

A friend and I were discussing it right after the TD. He said they should definitely go for two, I pointed out that if Wisconsin scored a TD instead of a FG, we'd probably want the "guaranteed" extra point. Playing the odds, though, I felt (and still feel) that going for two was the right call. In the second half, Wisconsin had not been moving the ball on our D and we'd been more effective at eating clock. Obviously once Wiscy scored I wished we had kicked the PAT, but if the same situation happened tomorrow, I'd still think it was the right thing to do.

Granted, the fact is that they missed their (second) two point attempt and we won. I might feel differently if the game had gone into overtime and especially if we had lost.

turbo cool

September 29th, 2008 at 9:31 AM ^

it was the right call. the only thing i would've changed was calling for a running play. i would've rather had the ball in the hands of 1 of our RB's like Minor or McGuffie. Also, what was the deal with Shaw? Hurt worse than we thought?

U of M in TX

September 29th, 2008 at 9:49 AM ^

Going for 2 was the right call in that situation. In your exception #2 you said that it was ok to go for 2 if "The weather is so bad you might not ever score again." What is the difference if it is the weather that makes it difficult to score, or the lack of execution? With the way that the offense looked, I have no issues with the 2 point conversion in that situation.

FYI - always double on 11 =)


September 29th, 2008 at 10:26 AM ^

so I would never go for two so early in the game. This cost us as well against App State - we went for 2 early in the 3rd and failed. Then had to go for two again late and failed. We end losing by 2. Had we gone for 1 both times, we go into OT and possibly win. Yes, hindsight is 20-20, and yes, obviously, had we made it then all the better, but going for 2 early is just too risky. Given our fumblitis, I wanted us to go for 1 at that point for the additional reason that Wisconsin could only tie if they got a safety!