Not surprisingly, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh fielded more questions during the Big Ten conference call about the now infamous final play that cost his team a victory against in-state rival Michigan State.
With 10 seconds left last Saturday at Michigan Stadium, and the Wolverines leading by two, Michigan punter Blake O’Neill took a low snap from Scott Sypniewski, dropped it, picked it up and spun around to kick it but fumbled into the hands of Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson. Watts-Jackson scored on a 38-yard return giving the Spartans a stunning 27-23 victory, their seventh in the last eight meetings with the Wolverines.
Harbaugh was asked whether he considered running off-tackle plays in that final drive to consume more time.
“That’s a thought,” Harbaugh said Tuesday during the conference call. “You can run sweep plays to the boundary to try to extend it six or seven seconds. In that situation had the ball go out of bounds. Yeah, that was a thought. It’s always been my experience when you elect to kick a field goal or not kick a field goal or punt or should have run or should have passed, you’d love to have that opportunity to do it again to see how the other way worked.”
He described his view of the final play and was asked at what point he realized it would be a score.
“Same as everybody’s vantage point as it evolved,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t remember the exact point where I thought it would be a scoring point. Just when they had the ball and were running with it — that would have been the point.”
Michigan is 5-2, 2-1 Big Ten and is off on Saturday. The Wolverines will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday. They play at Minnesota on Oct. 31, a game that was adjusted one hour earlier and will now air on ESPN at 7 p.m.
“We’ll look at it as an opportunity week to improve — improvement week,” he said. “We’ll look at this last game, for example, it’s never one football play in the game that decides the game. We’ll look at the things we improve on and did well and put us in position to win the game and also look at the ways we can improve so we can have the outcome be a winning outcome. Look at all sorts of ways to make improvement during this improvement week.”