Brady Hoke: I wouldn't have punted
Brady Hoke believes he’s earned the right to second-guess Jim Harbaugh.
Ignore the fact that Hoke won five games all of last year — a number Harbaugh hit by Week 6 — with virtually the same team. Still, the former Michigan coach was asked about what he would’ve done in the final 10 seconds on Saturday against Michigan State.
Hoke said he never would’ve punted. Of course he did.
“Personally, if we have the No. 1 defense in the nation I’m going to test those guys,” Hoke said on his twice-weekly SiriusXM college football radio show. “You’ve got to play to the strength of your football team and the strength of the Michigan football team all year long has been their defense.”
He said he would’ve given the ball to De’Veon Smith, who wasn’t exactly a safe bet on Saturday, and let the offensive line take on the challenge. And even if Smith couldn’t convert, the defense would be asked to make one more stop in the final few seconds, which would’ve minimized the risk.
The potential breakdowns in the punting team, Hoke said, were greater than the potential breakdowns in the defense had Michigan not been able to convert on fourth down.
In the heat of the moment, he said, “Jimmy” probably had a game plan that he wanted to see executed but it fell short. Hoke remembers that feeling as a coach all too well.
“Look, I know it’s easy from where we sit right now,” Hoke said. “I’ve been on the sideline and had to make decisions. I went for two against Ohio State two years ago because Devin Gardner has a broken foot and didn’t think the defense was playing as well we needed.”
Hoke was 1-3 against Michigan State in his four-year stint in Ann Arbor. That’s part of the reason he was fired at Michigan. That and the 5-7 record last year.
Any opposition Hoke offered on the subject was going to sound catty, given his standing with Harbaugh. Still, it’s a bit ironic that he’s in a position to critique Harbaugh’s decision-making.