Wasted timeouts and clock mismanagement at the end of the first half were bad trends among the dumbest coaching decisions for Week 12 of the 2023 college football season. Our Football IQ segment is heavy on the SEC, either with current or former coaches in the league as well, so there should be quite a few familiar faces.
Billy Napier plays for field goal
Everybody talks about the Florida Gators giving up a 4th and 17 play in their 33-31 loss to the Missouri Tigers, but the play that cost them was actually on the drive before. Locked in a shootout against Mizzou on the road, Florida drove to the Missouri 17 with two and a half minutes left to go. Napier, down 31-30, decided to play for the field goal.
If you’re going to play for the game-winning field goal, you have to be able to run the clock down. Mizzou had three timeouts, and Florida actually burned a timeout on a running play. They ran it three times, and one of their players actually ran out of bounds, so they only ran the clock down to 1:47. That was plenty of time for Mizzou to go down and kick a game-winning field goal, not needing a touchdown.
Mark Stoops plays for halftime
Even if you’re locked in a defensive struggle, you don’t immediately settle for leaving points on the board at the end of the first half. That’s exactly what Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops did when facing the South Carolina Gamecocks. With about 90 seconds to go and 3rd and 12 at the end of the first half, South Carolina ran the ball.
The run brought up a fourth down at the South Carolina 43, and then there was a penalty. Kentucky had a timeout but elected to take a 10-second runoff, assuring there would only be 13 seconds on the clock when they got the ball back. They ended up losing the game 17-14, but Stoops should’ve taken a chance before the half, especially with South Carolina out of timeouts.
Mario Cristobal timeout
Burning a timeout to talk about a fourth down play is always the dumbest decision college football coaches make, and Miami Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal, our returning champion, did exactly that. It’s why his team failed to upset the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday, losing another close one in a 38-31 loss.
Down by a touchdown late, it was 4th and goal from the 3 with 90 seconds to go. Cristobal took a timeout to talk about the play. When Miami didn’t convert, that wasted timeout allowed Louisville to run the clock down to 18 seconds before Miami got the ball back. Cristobal continues to make the dumbest decisions in college football, and he’s on the list again.
Gus Malzahn runs out first half clock
The UCF Knights lost 24-23 to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Late in the first half, UCF had the ball at the Texas Tech five-yard line with no timeouts left and 12 seconds to go. It was 2nd and goal, so they had time to run one, maybe two plays into the end zone. What you absolutely can’t do is call a play short of the end zone.
However, Gus Malzahn, in one of the most baffling decisions of this college football season, decided to call a shovel pass. John Rhys Plumlee completed it to R.J. Harvey, who ended up being tackled short of the end zone, so the clock ran out, and they couldn’t even get a field goal. If they got points on that drive, they win the game.
Mike Locksley timeout, to save half a yard
For the most part, the Maryland Terrapins played arguably the best team in college football extremely well last week, and Mike Locksley did a great job calling the game with three quarterback sneaks on the goal-line. They had a real chance to beat the Michigan Wolverines. However, late in the game, Locksley called one of the dumbest timeouts.
It was 3rd and 18 from the one-yard line, and the play-clock was running down with Maryland trailing 29-24. A delay of game would only be a half-yard penalty. The Terps head coach decided to use a timeout to save that half-yard. Late in the game, Michigan was able to run out the clock because UMD was one timeout short, and it was due to that ridiculous call, so they lost 31-24.