Stupid Person Asking Question about End of Half Timeout

Submitted by IncrediblySTIFF on October 14th, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Rainy Tuesdays are much worse than Mondays, in my opinion, and I was hoping to see a few more thoughts about the time-out called with three seconds left in the half.

Here's my take: there is no significant risk from taking this timeout (chance of a successful hail mary is pretty minimal).  However, there is not much reward there either, as the probability of a turnover-for-touchdown is even less than that of a conversion.

As a Brady Hoke apologist, and admittedly able to find the smallest amount of hope in the least-sensible ways, I would argue that it was a good call.  The fact of the matter is: Penn State was content to let the clock run out and go in for a rest.  Brady Hoke said, "wait a minute there, get on back out here and finish some football."  I like the mindset because I am stupidly loyal and find humor in the call   in that the opposition was trying to do one thing, and Michigan forced them to do the other.

I saw Space Coyote chime in on this as well in a different thread, I would like to hear a few more thoughts.  Seems to me the general sentiment is it was bad because it gave them a chance to throw the ball to the endzone (if PSU thought they had a chance of converting, why didn't they try it themselves)?


Blue Indy

October 14th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

While I agree that there's no benefit to calling a a timeout with 3 seconds left, there is potentially a benefit to calling a timeout with the full 25 seconds that were left on the clock. Good call, bad timing...


October 14th, 2014 at 1:38 PM ^

with 25 seconds left gives PSU two or three plays to score.  Remember they only had about 4 feet for the 1st down.  Calling a TO at three seconds means they cannot kneel down to run out the clock, only two seconds would come off the clock giving the ball to Michigan for one play.  So PSU was forced to do something active and thus risk turning the ball over.  Admittedly there was only the slimmest of chances Michigan would score, and only the slmmest of chances PSU would score, but there is no chance for Michigan to score if Michigan remains passive.

Bob The Wonder Dog

October 14th, 2014 at 11:33 AM ^

In that Brian and Ace both derided the decision, yet when comparing the pros and cons Brian acknowledged there might be an argument in favor of it (though perhaps he was being sarcastic?).

My guess is Michigan thought they might get the ball back on more favorable ground. At any rate, probably a wash.

Maize and Blue…

October 14th, 2014 at 11:38 AM ^

No way Michigan gets the ball back.  Half can't end on a defensive penalty so any type of penalty on M gives PSU an untimed down.  Plain stupid, but not as stupid as having Norfleet deep on the late punt where PSU took the safety.  The only way PSU gets the ball back is a fumble so why not totally eliminate the possiblity and not have anyone back.  Any good HS school coach knows this yet Hoke puts somebody back to return the punt. Dumb and dumber!  When will we see dumbest?


October 14th, 2014 at 12:11 PM ^

In the wake of Franklin's boneheaded timeout I completely forgot about this. I couldn't understand why we would 1) have someone back and 2) why even rush the punt and risk a roughing call?  I would have preferred to just see the base defense out there to watch the punt travel and roll off more time on the clock.  (Obviously they took the safety and there was no rol/punt, but that thought didn't cross my mind at the time)


October 14th, 2014 at 12:16 PM ^

perhaps norfleet was told not to field the punt?  I think you put a man back there because PSU (if they do decide to kick) will have to play max protect, which usually leads to a pretty good return.  Michigan with the ball inside of penn state territory with less than 2 minutes on the clock is probably a pretty high chance of victory.


October 14th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

in real time?

I'd like to think I'm pretty resourceful, but it didn't occur to me.  Likely what happened is that someone on Franklin's staff thought of it as PSU was about to punt and Franklin had to call timeout to implement that strategy.

Of course, it would have been best to see that option all along and avoid the timeout, but I didn't see it in real-time.

So what Franklin was trading at ~1:50 left was an opportunity to stop Michigan on downs down 3 with two timeouts (so Michigan would get one 40 second inbetween play runoff, so PSU would have likely had about ~50 seconds left w/ no timeouts had they taken that option), versus the opportunity to recover the onsides kick down 5 with ~1:50 left and one timeout.

I think w/ the anemic offense we had been seeing, punting the ball w/ two timeouts was the better option.  But I can't say his strategy was unreasonable, especially after they recovered the onsides kick in which Jesse James was offsides.



October 14th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

Penn State SHOULD have just taken the delay penalty there.  NEVER CALL TIME OUT ON YOUR 1 FOOT LINE.  Just take the delay penalty and take the 2 inch penalty.


However I do give them a ton of credit for coming up with the safety/on-side kick plan.  It worked to perfection until the ref screwed them out of it.  I honestly didn't even know you could on-side out of a safety.


October 14th, 2014 at 7:00 PM ^

I got lost for a minute too, until I remembered that the free kick after a safety can be done by placekicking, rather than by punting (which seems to be the most common method). But I don't think I've ever seen an onside attempt in such a situation. Agreed - credit to PSU for trying it.


October 14th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

Yes, but if the players were still thinking punt, odds are they snapped it before the play clock expired. That's the only way that the timeout is excusable. 

On another note, for some reason I didn't think you could onside kick after a safety. Kind of seems like it punishes the defense for playing well. If we don't sack them on 3rd down and instead they're at the 15 yard line, I don't think a safety crosses PSU's mind and they punt, giving us better odds rather than risking not getting an onside kick.

Also, we seem very ill prepared to field onside kicks. All of our frontmen just stand there or relax back instead of rushing forward to block for a back man to recover the kick.


October 14th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

I didn't see it that way.  PSU lined up with two kickers forcing us to split our team.  This prevents you from having a line of blockers and a receiver or two.  They have the numerical advantage either way so you have to rely on your hands guys to come up with it.

I still LOL at the people who think off-sides doesn't count if he is ONLY A LITTLE BIT OFF-SIDES.  Come on people - it's like being a little bit pregnant!


October 14th, 2014 at 3:34 PM ^

Offsides on a kickoff is obviously way different than any other play since it is the only play where the players are allowed to be moving foward at the snap.


What exactly constitutes offsides on a kickoff?  I thought it was where the player's feet were, and the Penn State player's feet were clealy behind the line when the ball was kicked.  But I'll gladly admit I'm wrong if it is where his body is, because his body was leaning way forward and was clearly just across the line at the point of the kick.

I rarely pay attention to KO off-sides since 99% of the time it is rather irrelevant. 

Blue Mike

October 14th, 2014 at 3:40 PM ^

On a kickoff, from what I understand, there is an invisible plane at the yard line the ball is kicked from (in this case, the 20) and no part of a player can cross that plane until after the ball is kicked.  James was clearly leaning over the line when the ball was kicked.


October 15th, 2014 at 12:10 AM ^

This is from the NFL rulebook, not the NCAA's, but as far as I know the definition is the same:


Offside: A player is offside when any part of his body is beyond his scrimmage or free kick line when the ball is snapped or kicked.


Only the kicker and holder (if any) are allowed to be offside on a kickoff.


October 14th, 2014 at 12:50 PM ^

To stop the play from starting, you have to have your team's attention.  If Franklin didn't have that and the ball was about to be snapped, he had to take the timeout to stop his own team from going forward with the play.  Of course, I don't know this, but that would be my guess as to what happened.


October 14th, 2014 at 12:18 PM ^

I was in the south end zone and there was a bunch of confusion from both Fleet and the sideline.  I am pretty sure Hoke was telling him not to go back, but others (special teams coaches??) were telling him to go back.  Fleet came up when Hoke told him to, but when Hoke turned his focus back to the punt the other coaches were shouting Fleet to go back.  General confusion all around and Fleet eventually kinda wandered in the middle.


October 14th, 2014 at 11:18 AM ^

...I'm thinking there's a song in there somewhere.

I'm good with the timeout, regardless, as it gives us the time to think about the right call.  I liked your take that UM forced them into a particular decision and dictated how it unfolded, at least theoretically. 

And remember there are no stupid....oh wait.


October 14th, 2014 at 11:19 AM ^

Hoke should have either (i) called for the timeout earlier in the play clock, or (ii) not at all.

As I recall it, there were about 25 seconds left, and PSU had a 4th and 1 on their own side of the field.  If you call timeout with 25 seconds left, they are likely to punt, and you give Fleet a chance to return it and/or run a couple of plays yourself.

If you don't call timeout, clock expires and everybody goes to halftime.

However, with 3 seconds left, you give them a chance at a hail mary, and don't really get anything in return except for a (in my opinion, extremely small) chance at a pick-six.

My problem with the timeout is not that he took it, it's when he took it.

the Bray

October 14th, 2014 at 11:32 AM ^

I agree with all of this.  The other risk you run with calling a time-out is a defensive penalty.  Move them up 10-15 yards and then give them another crack at a free play.  Calling it right away or not at all were the choices to choose between.  


October 14th, 2014 at 11:33 AM ^

It seems that Hoke wanted them to throw instead of punt.  I think I agree.

Bad things can happen on a punt return.  You could try to be aggressive and go for the block, but you could end up roughing the punter which would give them a 1st down with time still remaining on the clock.  You could try to set up a return, but a muffed punt ends in almost guaranteed points for Penn State.

Alternatively, you force them into trying a Hail Mary.  The bad thing you're worried about here is a TD.  Anything underneath is pointless because there is no time left.  From the spot on the field they were, and their offenses proven inability to protect the quarterback, there was very little chance of that being executed properly by PSU.  However, it is one more chance for your DL.

This might be a case of Hoke's DL mindset taking over.  He's basically avoiding the most risk averse decision (letting the clock run out) to give his DL one more chance to make a play.

I Like Burgers

October 14th, 2014 at 12:44 PM ^

"Bad things don't usually happen at halftime."  Uh...Michigan's performance in the third quarters of games would tend to disagree with you.

Although this was the first game since the Nebraska game in November of last year that we scored in the third quarter against a power 5 team.  So...yay?


October 14th, 2014 at 12:15 PM ^

As I said in another thread, it seemed like Hoke made a panicked decision to take the time out.  He was content going into half, then someone told him we could make them punt and he jumped at it without thinking how Penn St could throw a Hail Mary given how much time we wasted.  Making rash decisions is not a sustainable strategy of coaching.


October 14th, 2014 at 12:36 PM ^

The value proposition with three seconds left is "who do you think is more likely to score points on a hail mary: the team throwing it or the team defending it?"

If this answer isn't BLITHERINGLY obvious to you, well, you could apparently coach at Michigan.


October 14th, 2014 at 1:55 PM ^

Whatever you think of the call itself, its actually not that simple because you cant just ignore game situation and field position.  The reality of that game was that the probabilities were pretty even given (a) the success of Michigan's defense at getting to Hackenburg and (b) how far away PSU was from the Michigan end zone. PSU was on their own 38 when Hoke called a timeout.  At that distance, calling a timeout is still kinda meh probability wise.

If PSU was back another 10-15 yards, you be insane not to try to force PSU to attempt ~80 yard hail mary backed up against their own end zone, when you know your defense will get to the QB before their receivers even have a chance to get halfway up the field.  Even from the 38 yard line, it was clear that Coach Franklin did not think much of the odds of Hackenberg throwing a 62 yard strike for TD vs. the possibility Michigan returning a turnover. 

Im still not saying its a great call, but its just not the WORST CALL EVARRR that people seem to want to make it out to be.  


October 14th, 2014 at 2:34 PM ^

The issue is that there was absolutely nothing to gain from it.  yes, the likelihood of a Hail Mary TD was close to zero, but it was infinitely more likely than any benefit coming to Michigan.  If a hail mary was like a 1 in 1,000,000 chance, then any points for Michigan in this scenarious was like 1 in 1,000,000,000,000. 

It just reinforces the point that our coach really has absolutely no idea what he is doing.


October 14th, 2014 at 6:36 PM ^

Wow, so much hyperbole.

The reasoning is actually a lot simpler.  Hoke went with odds that his defense - which had been playing quite well - could come up with a play on the short side of the field over the odds that their QB - who hadnt had more than had more than 2-3 seconds to throw all night - could make a 62 TD strike down the field.  

I still dont think the statisical odds were in his favor, but I can understand the reasoning or giving your best unit an opportunity to make play, when its clear that their offense is in a position whre they obviously dont want to run a play.  

Feel free to get your panties in a bunch over that call if you like, but there were worse play calls (by both coaches) than this one.


October 14th, 2014 at 11:19 AM ^

There might have been a reason to take the TO immediately at the end of the previous play. This would have forced PSU to punt and given Norfleet a chance at a return and probably 1 or 2 chances for M plays. But once they let the clock run down, calling the TO with 3 seconds left was idiotic.


October 15th, 2014 at 4:08 PM ^

Yes, they COULD have, but if the had done so and failed, they'd have given us back the ball on their 39 with 10-15 seconds left. The risk/reward there, in a game you lead by 3, is poor, no matter how awful we are on offense. One 15 yard play puts us in FG position, and the game is quite likely tied. If Franklin had done that he'd have been stupider than Hoke eventually was (though the end of the game might suggest he is).


October 14th, 2014 at 11:21 AM ^

Hoke called the timeout not expecting a Hail Mary but a punt. It was just a touch of gamesmanship, to which Franklin responded with his own (a Hail Mary not a pubt). Honestly, that's it. I think we just need to leave it at that. I don't know why so many are dwelling on it.