Did we play for a field goal on the last drive of the Sugar Bowl

Submitted by rpel84 on January 5th, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Are there any thoughts on why we seemed to only play for a field goal on the last drive?  Personally I was frustrated by that.  I thought all year we seemed to play for TDs and on the last drive we were obviously OK settling for a field goal.  I thought this was opposite of what Brady had done all year.  I thought he had been aggressive all year.  It also made me nervous because VT seemed to throw the ball all over our D.  I thought they would march it right down the field like they did.  Any thoughts?

For all of you who are Neg-ing me I'm not talking about overtime.  I'm talking about the last drive of regulation.  And for the rest of you who think I'm second guessing Hoke, I'm not.  I was simply asking for opinions about how that call was diff then most of what Borges/Brady did all season.  So don't get you panties in a bunch in defense of our fearless leader.  I love HOKE just as much as any Michigan fan.  I actually know him and his family so I'm not tearing him down just talking about how I thought it was a little out of character.  Relax...We Won !!!  And I love being sugar bowl champs just as much as any Michigan fan also.



January 5th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

The offense hadn't done anything, and Denard was having one of his scary-Denard days, which included losing yards on sacks.  Setting up in the middle of the field for an attempt of less than 40 yards was prudent, especially since Gibbons was already having a good day.

Edit: I thought you were talking about the OT drive.  Didn't Denard try to hit Koger near the goal line on the last drive of regulation? 

Blue Ranger

January 5th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

When you have a kicker who can visualize brunette girls while kicking, wouldn't you feel confident too?

In all seriousness though, I was a little surprised too especially when they had single coverage on the 2nd down play.


January 5th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

Yes, we only played for a field goal.  That was the smart move.  You don't want to pass it at all, especially with Denard's erratic arm and their ball-hawking secondary.  Why play for a TD when you're already in range for a field goal and that will win you the game?


January 5th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

Denard passing the whole game was bad, bad, bad, and you obviously don't want to throw a pick in OT.  A FG insta-wins, and if you have a reliable kicker (GIBBONS???), you play for a field-goal.  This leaves you with run x 3 to try to get a little closer safely, and then kick it.


January 5th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

for most of the game, no point risking a turnover when all we needed was a few yards to set us up for a game winning FG. Plus the coaches were confident with Gibbon's abilities and I had no problem with that


January 5th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

If you're talking about regulation, Hoke trusts the defense. With the way our offense was playing, you take no risks. And Borges calls the plays anyways. If you're talking about OT, going for the field goal is all you need to win why take risks?


January 5th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

I think the risk of Denard throwing an INT and the general ineffectiveness of our offense was the reason why Borges went conservative. That, and Fitz got 5 yards on first down, which was actually pretty good for a FG kicker at that point on the field. It's good to see Hoke/Borges have supreme confidence in Gibbons, because I'm not sure I would have given how he layed last year.

Don't get me wrong, I usually hate seeing coaches go super conservative like that instead of running a normal offense there. But the way the game was playing out pointed to doing things the old-fashioned super-conservative way (even Brian noted as much).

Plus it worked out. 


January 5th, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

DRob sucked all game and I for one did not trust him to throw anything downfield in that situation.

I felt good about running it with Fitz. Maybe would have liked to see a counter play on 1st  or 2nd down (or fake it with Drob keeping a trying for the edge) that could have caught Va Tech off guard though.

UM's passing struggles really troubled me in the game. The script to stop our O was fairly simple and discovered by MSU. Just blitz the hell out of UM, espcially up the A Gap and DRob will not make you pay.

This has gotta get fixed for next season.


January 5th, 2012 at 11:24 AM ^

I would have liked to see a spread and a couple Denard power runs, but playing conservatively and kicking is the call 99% of coaches would make. (Brian Kelly being the 1%, lol)


January 5th, 2012 at 11:29 AM ^

Yup.  What Michigan did all season has little relevance here.  This was an opportunity to end it in a sudden death form.  Gibbons (Chubs McGee) looked good previously, and had the ball lined up in the center of the field.  With the VT defense kicking our butt, I believe this to have been the smart play - especially on third down.

Yost Ghost

January 5th, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

Exactly, you don't mess around with throwing the ball in that situation. All you need is a field goal to win. Run it 3 times get it as close as you can then kick that sucka.

What torqued me off was the previous drive where Drob tried to a force a throw to Hemingway in double coverage when Odoms was wide open at the first down just 10 yards in front of Hemingway.


January 5th, 2012 at 11:38 AM ^

vatech was daring Michigan to throw, and they sold out to stop the run, cause it was obvious what was happening....they could have ran play action and told denard throw it out of the endzone if he isn't open.......


But denard isn't a throw it away qb and will hesitate and take a sack if the receiver isn't open.  I would have done the same thing the staff did, Hemmingway or Roundtree may have got inside position and hit the post hard for a td, but I wouldn't have trusted roundtree to protect the ball if it wasn't thrown well or slightly behind.

Rocking Chair

January 5th, 2012 at 11:39 AM ^

That's a legitimate question for a Thursday morning quarterback, but can't we hold the second quessing for now and just enjoy what Hoke and the team acccomplished this year? 

After what we witnessed all season it can hardly be argued that Hoke is overly conservative in his play calling.  In this instance he trusted the defense which was performing much better than the offense all night.  He played the odds correctly even though it didn't work this time. 


January 5th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

I thought all year we seemed to play for TDs and on the last drive we were obviously OK settling for a field goal.

This was a situation where a field goal would end the game. There was no need for a touchdown. You can't compare this to some decision we made in the 3rd quarter of a game. All we needed was some kind of a score to win - and we got it.

Mr. Brownstone

January 5th, 2012 at 11:47 AM ^

The fact that it was OT changes the strategy. VT missed their chance. All we need is a FG and we win. The percentages of the FG is miuch higher than a TD. Why not take the percentages for the win?


January 5th, 2012 at 12:01 PM ^

What difference does it make whether we win by 3 or win by 6?  

Would the win have been any sweeter if we had scored a touchdown vs thinking about brunette girls and kicking a field goal?  

BTW, here's to all the brunette girls, real or imagined, who have not received their due credit for inspiring Gibbons!


January 5th, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

Offense sucked all game.  Defense was good all game.  Their 3rd string kicker, while performing very wall, was still the 3rd string kicker and the odds of him missing a kick the closer it got to peak pressure time, and he eventually did.  The way we were playing this was the best strategy.  We won the game, thus it was the correct decision.


January 5th, 2012 at 12:15 PM ^

you have a chance to win the game. early in the season the field goals were to tie the game. why try and score a td when all u need is 3 points to win. plus the offense couldn't do a dang thing but throw it up for grabs. and hope hemmingway comes down with it.


January 5th, 2012 at 12:21 PM ^

I did not like the 3 runs into the line. I would have preferred more of a normal, but safe, approach to the possession. FGs are not guarantees.


It was much better than running once, taking a knee to center, and then kicking on third down.


January 5th, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

Are you referring to the OT drive or the last possession of the 4th qtr? If its OT I think its pretty self explanatory. 4th qtr I think Hoke trusted his defense, maybe more than he should have, to make a stop.


January 5th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

Of course we played for a field goal.  It doesn't matter in the least how potent your offense is or has been, when you're in overtime, in field goal range and a field goal wins the game, this is the only reasonable way to play.  This goes for college as well as the NFL.  You play it safe, avoid the possibility of a stupid turnover and run plays for the sole purpose of putting the ball in good position for the kicker.  Again, if you've ever watched a college or NFL game go into overtime, you've most likely witnessed this same universal plan.  To think any other method should of been utlilized is ignorant to common sense football strategy. 

If you still find yourself questioning Al/Brady's decision on this drive, ask yourself one thing: In the end, did we or did we not win?


January 5th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

If OT, it's a no-brainer, you have a chance to win, you hang onto the ball, get as close as you can, and make the FG to win.  Going for it earlier in the season it's a matter of going for a tie or a win. It's not like he did that AFTER VT kicked a FG.

If you mean the last drive of regulation, how did we not go for it? My memory may be off, but wasn't the last play before the kick the needle pass to Koger? (where the guy underneath was wide open) They had to drive in to FG range, and got stopped. It wasn't 4th and 1. 


January 5th, 2012 at 12:55 PM ^

Don't confuse Michigan's final drive with how Richt threw away Georgia's chances. Michigan attempted to move the ball, but in a manner that protected the possibilities of a FG.

Richt was a fool. Hoke made a calculation on our best chances to win, and it worked.


January 5th, 2012 at 6:41 PM ^

Have to politely disagree. Hoke was definitely playing it conservative with three running plays - none of which involved Denard Robinson if I recall and all pretty much designed to keep it in the center of the field. Todd Blackledge in fact predicted the 3rd down play would be a run back to the left after the first two plays headed to the right in order to better center the ball for the FG attempt.

Hoke didn't open up and try to get 10 or 20 yards, just about 5 which he got - a 20 yard line spot + 7 for the placement and 10 for the endzone = 37 yard kick - doable for our kicker. Georgia's head coach error was to not gain any yardage for a kicker whose percentage was very bad from that rang.

The real criticism about game strategy should be aimed at Frank Beamer when V Tech was driving at the end of the 4th Q - he seemed to pull up and played to go into overtime rather than keep pressing and try to score a knockout. When the Wolverines go up 20-17, it looked like there was too much time left - had it been a TD, definitely, but a FG lead looked like V Tech had enough time to come back and score leaving us with a ND UTL situation of only a handful of seconds to come back.



January 5th, 2012 at 6:47 PM ^

I think they may have made the decision to be cautious on 2nd and 3rd down after they took a shot on 1st down and didn't connect.  If you recall, Denard took a shot down the sideline to what looked like no one.  Though it went ignored, the replay showed Junior running a double move, only to get leg-whipped by the corner who was about to get torched.  Junior came off limping and we were left in 2nd and 10.  They way our offense was going, being conservative from there may not have been a bad move.


January 5th, 2012 at 7:56 PM ^

This is off the subject but I know you guys will know. What is AD Brandon's email address? I want to tell him to stop screwing around with the football uniforms. Those numbers looked like a first grader put them on with a magic marker. Also, the color of the #s on the helmets don't match the wings yellow color. Thank you.


January 6th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

I went to ESPN http://espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=320030259&period=4 to get the drive chart...


1st and 10 at VT 45 Fitzgerald Toussaint rush for no gain to the VTech 45. 17 17
2nd and 10 at VT 45 Denard Robinson pass complete to Roy Roundtree for 10 yards to the VTech 35 for a 1ST down.    
1st and 10 at VT 35 Denard Robinson pass incomplete.    
2nd and 10 at VT 35 Denard Robinson rush for 11 yards to the VTech 24 for a 1ST down.    
1st and 10 at VT 24 Fitzgerald Toussaint rush for no gain to the VTech 24.    
2nd and 10 at VT 24 Denard Robinson rush for 2 yards to the VTech 22.    
3rd and 8 at VT 22 Denard Robinson pass incomplete to Kevin Koger.    
4th and 8 at VT 22 Brendan Gibbons 39 yard field goal GOOD. 20 17
  Matt Wile kickoff for 67 yards returned by David Wilson for 14 yards to the VTech 9, VIRGINIA TECH penalty 8 yard Holding on Nick Dew accepted.    
DRIVE TOTALS: MICHIGAN drive: 7 plays 23 yards, 03:21 MICHIGAN FG

What exactly did you think was too conservative about that? 3 passes, 3 rushes. One pass for a 1st down, last pass that if he had hit the underneath man instead of trying to hit Koger would have been a first down, and at least put us in probably TD range. Gained 23 yards, 3:21 possession. What exactly seemed like we weren't taking chances?