FOS-TV: Fourth-and-3 Punt

See how a key decision by the Penn State coaching staff helped the Lions gain control of the game at Michigan Saturday.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In the second quarter of a game at Michigan Saturday, Penn State faced a fourth-and-3 from the Wolverine 33. Holding a 10-7 lead, the Nittany Lions opted to punt.

Many in the Nittany Nation questioned the decision. A 50-yard field goal attempt was obviously out of the question, considering first-year place-kicker Collin Wagner had struggled from beyond 47 yards this season and PSU was headed into a stiff wind.

But why not go for it? The worst-case scenario appeared to be coming up short and turning the ball over to Michigan nearly 70 yards from the PSU goal line.

The Lion staff wasted no time sending punter Jeremy Boone onto the field. And he promptly pinned the Wolverines at their own 8-yard line.

On first down, defensive end Jack Crawford blew up offensive tackle Mark Ortmann, driving into the backfield and having a clear shot at running back Carlos Brown. Even though Ortmann tackled Crawford to prevent the stop and was called for holding, the PSU linebackers made a tackle for a 3-yard loss and the penalty was declined.

Then came a false start penalty on the Wolverines (half the distance to the goal) to bring up second-and-15, after which defensive tackle Jared Odrick just barely missed a sack of Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier for a safety. Forcier threw the ball away to bring up third down.

Following another false start (half the distance to the goal), Michigan face third-and-16 from its own 1.5-yard line. As Forcier was changing the play at the line, backup center David Moosman snapped the ball through the end zone for a safety.

Penn State led 12-7 and scored a touchdown two plays later to gain control of the game for good. Coincidentally, a safety (by Odrick) changed momentum in a Nittany Lion win over the Wolverines at Beaver Stadium in 2008.

But back to this year's game. At the time the PSU coaching staff called for the punt, it generated a fair amount of second-guessing among fans and media members. In retrospect, however, it was the perfect move.

See what several Nittany Lions had to say about that key part of the game in this edition of FOS-TV.


Fight On State Top Stories