The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, November 8, 2011- 5
Hoke rehashes close call,
clock management at Iowa
'NASCAR' offense ignites
Wolverines down the stretch
By TIM ROHAN
Brady Hoke's mouth was half
agape as he talked to special
teams ace Floyd Simmons on the
sidelines. Hoke had just called
his first timeout of the second
half with 5:22 remaining in the
fourth quarter. But the 'oops'
look said he knew he made a
It was a questionable decision
considering the circumstances:
Facing a 4th-and-6 near mid-
field, Iowa was ready to punt.
"Why call a timeout if you're
Michigan?" ESPN anchor Dave
Pasch asked rhetorically. "Don't
you need to save your timeouts?"
Hoke said he had counted 12
men on the field for Michigan.
To Hoke's credit, had the five-
yard penalty been called, Iowa
would've had a 4th-and-1 situa-
The Hawkeyes were initially
going to go for it, facing a 4th-
and-1, but they were called for
a false start and were forced to
punt. Worried about the penalty,
Hoke called timeout.
But, as Hoke realized after-
ward, there were only 11 Wolver-
ines on the field.
"I didn't count very well,"
Hoke said. "And as soon as I
called it and counted, I said,
'I hope we don't need that one
Twenty minutes later, Hoke's
hands were tied because of it,
especially after Junior Heming-
way's would-be touchdown
catch was called incomplete
with seven seconds left.
On Monday, Hoke rehashed
many 'what-ifs' that weighed
heavily on Michigan's 24-16
loss at Iowa, mostly concerning
Hemingway, but also the time-
Hoke had used his second
timeout to stop the clock as
Michigan got the ball back on
its final drive. And he called his
third and final timeout, instead
of spiking the ball, when the
Wolverines got a first down .at
the three-yard line with 16 sec-
Without any timeouts, Michi-
gan was forced to throw the ball
The luxury of the pass-run
option was not afforded the Wol-
verines and the dynamic quar-
terback Denard Robinson, who
could have been forced to watch
the clock tick away had a run not
A team that ranked among the
nation's best at running the ball
had to throw it.
"No (regrets)," Hoke said of
his timeout usage down the
stretch. "We talked about that
(Sunday). Going into the two-
minute at the end, knowing
where we were timeout-wise,
I thought (offensive coordina-
tor) Al (Borges) really managed
it well. We had four shots at the
endzone. Two of them we had in
Michigan coach Brady Hoke made a mistake calling his first second-half timeout.
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
With terms like NASCAR,
three-wide and pace flying
around Michigan coach Brady
think the topic of conversation
was Tony Stewart's upset vic-
tory at Texas Motor Speedway
Instead, Hoke was discuss-
ing the "NASCAR" formation
that almost saved the No. 22
Michigan football team from
its 24-16 upset defeat in Iowa
City on Saturday.
After redshirt sophomore
running back Fitzgerald Tous-
saint - the Wolverines' lead-
ing rusher against Iowa - left
the game with an injury, junior
quarterback Denard Robinson
and the Michigan offense shift-
ed into the one-back, three-
receiver shotgun set and turned
up the pace.
Was it essentially a two-min-
"It's just a little different on
the play selection - the calls,"
Hoke said on Monday.
Is it as fast as the two-minute
"It might be even a little more
tempo," Hoke said.
Robinson appeared signifi-
cantly more comfortable in the
"NASCAR," a formation that is
more similar to what Michigan
ran the past three seasons.
In the final quarter, Robin-
son led the offense on one late
scoring drive and fell just three
yards and a two-point conver-
sion short of completing the
comeback against the Hawk-
"I think when you go what we
call 'NASCAR' ... you limit the
defense a little bit," Hoke said.
"Iowa's not a huge substitution
defensive football team - never
have been. But you limit there
a little bit to what they can do
because you've got a little more Woolfolk was the starting safety
engaged tempo. alongside Kovacs. Gordon didn't
"Now we've done that same play a snap.
thing three other times this Hoke attributed the change
year. In one game we were three to Woolfolk besting Gordon, the
and out, so we used no posses- team's third-leading tackler, in
sion time. We weren't in any practice during the week.
kind of situation not to try and "We just thought Troy was
score quickly." going to start the football game
Having Toussaint on the once Jordan came back," Hoke
sideline didn't hurt the come- said.
back, according to Hoke, since "We were going to go with
he would rather use junior those two guys. And they'll
running back Vincent Smith's compete like hell this week (to
see) who'll be the guy. It's not
like Thomas had made some
"W hen you go "You have to feel pretty good
(NASCAR\ about the guy that's on the field,
(NASCAR) ... too. It all comes down to com-
petition and where guys are.
you limnit the Thomas is a competitor."
defense." Woolfolk didn't play badly,
but he had never started a game
at safety alongside Kovacs and
didn't necessarily impress with
his routes to the ball.
pass-blocking abilities in the "I think we should have taken
late-game offense. an opportunity to get (Gordon)
"We got into the two-minute in a little bit and just didn't for
and got into the 'NASCAR', one reason or another," Hoke
and that's kind of Vince's deal," said.
Hoke said. "If you watched the INJURIES: Redshirt freshman
game and watched him pick linebacker Jake Ryan was one of
up the linebacker blitz the one four freshmen who saw signifi-
time, you know why he's in cant time on Michigan's defense
there." against the Hawkeyes. Ryan
SAFETY SWAP: Through started but suffered a stinger on
seven games this season, the opening play of the game. He
redshirt sophomore safety returned in the fourth quarter.
Thomas Gordon was the most "(Ryan will) be alright," Hoke
opportunistic player on Michi- said. "He came back in the game,
gan's defense. made a great play on third down
Gordon was a turnover at the end of the game to get the
machine, collecting an intercep- ball back for our offense."
tion, forcing two fumbles and Redshirt junior offensive
recovering three fumbles. lineman Ricky Barnum did not
So when fifth-year senior make the trip to Iowa City.
Troy Woolfolk shifted from He is recovering from an
cornerback to safety last week, ankle injury, and Hoke was
it was expected that Woolfolk hopeful Barnum would practice
would be the backup safety more this week.
and would only start if redshirt Toussaint 'left in the third
junior safety Jordan Kovacs quarter and didn't return,
remained out of the lineup with but Hoke and Toussaint said
a knee injury. the ' unning back could have
But on Saturday against Iowa, returned late in the game.
Fifth-year senior Junior Hemingway was still the center of attention Monday.
Hoke was still convinced
Monday that Hemingway caught
"I thought Junior made a
catch," Hoke said.
Did he finish the process of
catching the ball?
"You see, that's where every-
thing gets diluted," Hoke
responded. "What is that rule?"
How do you perceive it?
"I thought he caught the ball."
And he finished the catch and
"Hm-hm," he affirmed.
Redshirt sophomore running
back Fitzgerald Toussaint said
every player thought Heming-
way had caught it when they
reviewed the game film on Sun-
When the play happened live,
the officials immediately ruled
it incomplete, but then it was
reviewed in the booth. After the
review, the official was ambigu-
ous: "The ruling on the field
stands as called. The pass is
incomplete. Third down."
That was it.
On the telecast, Pasch
explained that the explanation
meant they did not have enough
video evidence to overturn the
ruling on the field.'
Hoke was never given an
explanation during the game
or at any point afterwards. He
added that they didn't have time
during the game to explain why
or how they ruled Hemingway's
Like he does every week with
a handful of plays, Hoke will ask
the Big Ten office about the rul-
ing on Hemingway's would-be
"I think it's just the way it
goes," Hoke said. "Just part of
the game. We're always trying to
get, 'Is that the right call? Why
did they call it?' More than any-
Senior leaders Ryan Van
Bergen and Dave Molk both
expressed some level of disdain
for the call, but both were stoic
in their approach to move for-
ward - atrait that Hoke has val-
ued win or lose.
"I think the honest approach
we take every Sunday with our
kids - good or bad - (will help),"
Hoke said. "We'll move through
that and past it pretty quick.
"(Monday), there will be a
bunch of them over in the office
watching film on Illinois. They'll
turn the page pretty quickly.
Kids are a heck of a lot more
resilient than we are. We've got
to take that next step and so do
Junior running back Vincent Smith is a key part of the 'NASCAR" offensive scheme Michigan runs to speed op tempo.
Faceoffs more than just about the draw for Berenson, Michigan
Michigan won just
43 percent of its
By MATT SLOVIN
Daily Sports Writer
In football, the Oklahoma drill
is a staple at practices from high
school to the pros.
Created by famed Sooners
coach Bud Wilkinson, the drill
pits two players against each
other in a hard-hitting, teeth-
gritting tackling situation.
Michigan hockey coach Red
Berenson may soon need to
integrate a similar tool into his
practices. But instead of having
his players try knocking their
opponent to the turf - or in this
case, the ice - he'd make them
beat the other to the puck off the
The Wolverines are plenty
physical - a powerful check
from senior defenseman Greg
Pateryn may land an inattentive
opponent in Ypsilanti. Rather, a
fundamental weakness exposed
itself against Western Michigan
"I think up until this weekend,
we've been strong on faceoffs,"
He added that faceoffs are
about the team, not just the man
in the middle.
Despite winning a majority
of this season's faceoffs thus far,
there's still cause for concern
inside the circles.
And it's not simply that Michi-
gan hasn't been taking control of
the puck - it won just 43 percent
of the time against the Broncos -
it's when the Wolverines lose it.
"A big part of it is preparation
and focus by the centermen,"
Berenson said. "But it could also
be the winger next to him. It's
something we work on all the
Berenson was known as a
you can't win a faceoff and some
nights when you can't lose (one),"
Unfortunately for him, his
team didn't win them in big spots
on Friday night.
Several times in the Western
Michigan series, especially Fri-
day, Berenson called on his men
to win the scuffle at crucial stag-
es of the games - on the power
play, killing penalties and with
time winding down.
And at each critical juncture,
it seemed the puck wound up
resting comfortably on the tape
of a Bronco stick.
Take, for example, the faceoff
that lost the Wolverines the
game on Friday, a 3-2 deci-
sion. As freshman center Zach
Hyman demonstrated, winning
the draw is just half the battle.
With the game tied at two and
under a minute to play, Hyman
skated into the circle. The puck
was in the Michigan zone, and
a mistake on a faceoff so late in
the game could doom the Wol-
Hyman won the puck - but
that wasn't enough.
The Michigan defense was
slow to react and Western Mich-
igan swarmed the loose puck.
Before the team had recovered
from the draw, the puck was in
the net - a "bang, bang" play
according to Berenson. The
home winning streak was over at
Berenson cited Hyman, Tra-
vis Lynch and Alex Guptill - all
freshmen - as impressive so far
in faceoffs. But that's hardly to
say experience is irrelevant.
Size, Berenson says, is less
important. Luckily, 5-foot-8
junior center A.J. Treais "plays
big," according to Berenson.
Treais is fast, intelligent and
intense - qualities that Beren-
son believes wins draws.
"Sometimes it's just a bad
bounce, sometimes it's just a bad
drop," Treais said.
"But those are the battles we
have to start winning."
Junior forward A. Treais maybe short in staore at 5-foot-8, but Berenson said
he 'plays big' for his position, which helps him win faceoffs.
strong faceoff center in his NHL one that sometimes the puck just
days. slides away.
So he knows as well as any- "There's some nights when