Every Monday at 9 a.m., following an Indiana football game, we will have a feature at AllHoosiers.com that we call Monday Morning Quarterback.
In it, AllHoosiers.com site publisher Terry Hutchens will look back at some of the in-game coaching decisions that worked well or maybe fell a little bit short in that particular game.
Here is our installment following Saturday’s 37-15 loss to Maryland in the B1G opener.
Both of today’s topics involve the kicking game.
1. THE DECISION TO ATTEMPT A 58-YARD FIELD GOAL IN THE FIRST PLACE
It was more than a little impressive that redshirt freshman Griffin Oakes was able to connect on a school record shattering 58-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. The kick would have been good by a few yards more. The old record was 55 yards and this was Oakes’ third field goal of the game, all from beyond 38 yards.
So what’s the question here? It seems that so often in these types of situations that many coaches will opt to take a knee. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat there at the end of a half and thought why not try that 58-yard or 60-yard field goal? What do you have to lose?
And whenever I’ve posed that question to a coach after a game where he chose to take a knee in that situation the answer has always been the same. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. When a kicker is trying to kick one that far, the ball may start out lower and have a chance to be blocked more easily. If that’s the case, the opponent could run it back for a touchdown and you have put yourself in a big hole.
The safer play is to end the half, regroup and come out and try again in the second half.
But give Kevin Wilson credit. With a kicker making his first collegiate start and attempting his third career field goal (the first two had been successful from 38 and 48 yards), Wilson still didn’t hesitate to send his kicker out there in that situation. So often you hear coaches say that before a game they ask their kicker after warmups what yard line do you think they need to get to in order to attempt a kick on that day. It’s hard to believe that the answer Saturday was the 41 but that certainly turned out to be the case.
2. WHY NOT GO FOR A CONVENTIONAL TWO AFTER IU’S FOURTH QUARTER TOUCHDOWN?
When Indiana scored with 9:29 to play in the game Saturday to cut the deficit to 34-15, Wilson sent out his extra point team to try and make it 34-16. At the time, sitting in the press box high above Memorial Stadium, I didn’t understand the move. If you get one point, you’re down by 18. If you go for two a 17-point deficit looks better.
Now, in either case Indiana had an incredible high mountain still left to climb but the two-point play still seemed like the obvious choice.
What ended up happening instead was that Indiana attempted a fake extra point and then holder Erich Toth had no chance on what would be a botched attempt.
So here’s my question: Why not just have Nate Sudfeld and Tevin Coleman and company on the field in that situation if indeed you’re going to go for two. You have to think that if I was thinking they should go for two that the Maryland defensive staff was expecting them to go for two as well. Thus, they had to be on the lookout for a fake. It wasn’t like the situation on Sunday with the Colts going for an onsides kick at a point in the game where no one would have expected it. This was the play that should have been made and eventually was except the ball was in the hands of your punter and not your quarterback.
My point is if you’re going to ultimately go for two, make sure you have the best personnel options in the game to do so.
That’s today’s Monday Morning Quarterback feature from AllHoosiers.com.
Stay tuned for Daily Features each day this week at AllHoosiers.com leading up to Saturday’s game with North Texas. Tuesday is our On The Mend feature looking at the injury situation. Wednesday is How They Fared where Ben Faunce looks at how IU’s recruits did in last weekend’s games. Thursday is Scouting The Opponent, a segment with five questions from an opposing beat writer. Friday is our Prediction Time feature where the AllHoosiers.com staff predicts the outcome of that Saturday’s game and looks for your take on what the score will be as well. Also on Friday we have our weekly The Buck Stops Here feature where from IU coach Buck Suhr breaks down the upcoming opponent after watching tape of them during the week.
Also continue to follow the bottom of this page for the related stories file throughout today as we add content from Monday’s Kevin Wilson press conference.Oakes named B1G Special Teams Player of the Week
IU Insider Blog: A Big Missed Opportunity
Staff Analysis: One more look back
Sudfeld: ‘We weren’t ourselves.’