Stand up and applaud. College football coaches were not completely incompetent with their decision-making this past weekend. Many risks and questionable calls didn’t work out, but every one of them had an argument for going the other way. Still, plenty made mistakes if you’re playing probabilities, so once again, Football IQ showed.
Dan Lanning four straight red zone passes
Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning is taking heat for going for the win late in a 36-33 loss to the Washington Huskies, trying for the touchdown instead of the field goal. That was a decision that didn’t work out, but it actually wasn’t a bad decision and is part of why this was the best game of the college football season.
The bad red zone decision was before the half. Trailing 22-18 and averaging five yards on the ground, Lanning threw it four straight times inside the 10. Not running was bad enough, but it was 4th and goal from the 3 at the end, and Oregon was going to get the ball to start the second half. Sorry, you obviously kick it there.
Jimbo Fisher plays for halftime
Yes, it was a defensive struggle. However, possessions matter more than anything else in college football, and Jimbo Fisher inexplicably gave one away before the half as the Tennessee Vols lost to the Texas A&M Aggies. Up 10-7 with 90 seconds to go and all three timeouts, Fisher decided to let the clock run down.
After the Vols punted, there were 45 seconds left on the clock. Fisher decided to play for halftime. Even in a game like this, you don’t give up possession. Max Johnson was moving the ball and had a chance to get them into field goal range. Instead, Fisher seriously cost his team, as they lost 20-13.
Sam Pittman 4th and 1 punt after timeout
Ball control and field position are the worst examples of football IQ, particularly when you’re playing a team better than you. Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks were doing just that Saturday against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Everybody will remember them coming back to only lose 24-21. I remember them leaving points on the field.
Trailing 21-6 and with the game slipping away in the first half, Arkansas brought up a 4th and 1 at the 34-yard line late in the first half. Pittman burned a timeout and then came out to punt it. That was next level stupid. You’re playing Alabama! You’ve got to stay on the field! Instead, he cost his team potential points before the half.
Lance Leipold timeout before fourth down
One of the stupidest things college football coaches do is burn a timeout to talk about a fourth down play. What if you don’t convert? Now, you’re down a timeout when you need to stop the clock. That’s exactly what the Kansas Jayhawks did in their loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys Saturday.
Trailing 36-32, they completed a nine-yard pass on 3rd and 10 with just under two minutes to go. The move is to have a play and run up and call it. Instead, Leipold burned a timeout, and coming out of that, Kansas threw an incomplete pass. That allowed Oklahoma State to run clock and settle for a field goal. When Kansas got the ball back, they had just 15 seconds instead of 55. Epic fail.
Deion Sanders goes for it to open the second half
Normally, I’m all for college football coaches going for it. Punting is literally a turnover. However, the exceptions are the situation Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes were in. They led the Stanford Cardinal 29-0 and got the ball to open the second half. Shedeur Sanders drove them down the field and brought up a 4th and 2 at the Stanford 45.
In this situation, you punt. Play field position, and make Stanford use as much clock as possible to come back. You have all the momentum! Instead, Sanders went for it, and he had a Shedeur drop back five steps with no extra blockers. The result was the last thing you want: a sack. It unnecessarily kickstarted Stanford’s momentum. Going for it later was fine, but this one was bad.