Friday, July 30, 2010

Fuel on the fire: Another worst play addendum

MGoBlog's tragic two-part Worst Plays of the Decade list has produced at least one addendum courtesy of The Wolverine Blog, and I thought it appropriate to add my own worst play: Zoltan's legendarily bad fake punt against Michigan State last year. Case in point:

At the time, I broke down the play and compared it to a similar fake punt that he executed perfectly against Minnesota the year before. But let's set the scene:

Michigan is 4-0 and coming off one of the hottest starts in the nation in a pivotal season for the program. A win in this game and Michigan is basically guaranteed bowl eligibility, with Delaware State being the following week's opponent. Michigan is down 10-6 in a slog of a game that saw them only have four (!!!) possessions in the first half for a total of 67 yards of offense. They managed six points because of a Kirk Cousins interception that set them up with a short field. Michigan State wasn't doing much better despite holding a commanding lead in time of possession.

After Zoltan spectacularly muffs the play, Michigan holds MSU to a field goal and would go on to lose the game in overtime thanks in large part to a Tate Forcier interception. Whether or not actually punting here would've allowed Michigan to win the game--speculative guesses say probably: in MSU's final 5 possessions, they mounted 138 yards (70 of which came on one drive), which accounted for a TD, two punts, a fumble, and a turnover on downs--it stands to reason that without those three points that Michigan essentially gave away, they win the game in regulation and have a chance at going bowling.

In the aftermath, Rodriguez took most of the heat for the play, claiming that he gives Zoltan the read on every play, but I'm not entirely convinced. It was nice that he threw himself under the bus for a senior leader, but this one falls squarely on the shoulders of The Inconceivable.


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