Rock-Bottom Moment

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This wasn’t just a bitter loss, it was an acidic loss, one that eats away at
the mind of any Hokie fan who thinks about it. There were many twists and turns
to this game, and one of the more critical moments came midway through the
fourth quarter, when Virginia Tech tried a fake punt that was an epic,
game-changing failure.

It was tied at 17, and the Hokies were facing a 4th and 1 at Michigan’s 48
yard line, with less than eight minutes to go in the game. Virginia Tech had
battled back from a 17-6 deficit to tie the ball game, and the Hokie defense was
playing lights out. Michigan would finish with just 184 yards on the game, and
Denard Robinson would be limited to 13 yards on 13 carries.

Throughout Frank Beamer’s career, he has been a conservative,
defense-oriented, field-position coach. His team had the momentum, and this
seemed to be a made-to-order situation for Beamer. Punt the ball, pin the
Wolverines at their 20 yard line at worst, and leverage the field position and
great defense into a game-winning situation. This is right up Frank Beamer’s
alley.

With 7:30 to go, the Hokies called a timeout. As ESPN cut to a commercial, I
had a fleeting thought about how obvious a fake punt would be in this situation,
then I dismissed the possibility. Nobody would try a fake punt in this
situation.

That’s when the trouble started. Sure enough, the Hokies tried a fake punt,
and it failed miserably. It wasn’t even close. Here’s the replay.

— video no longer available —

That gave Michigan the ball at the Hokie 45 yard line. The Wolverines
mustered 23 yards of offense and a couple first downs, a typical effort for them
on the night. That set them up for a 40 yard field goal to take the lead, and
they nailed it to go up 20-17 with 4:00 left on the clock.

It was a critical turn of events in a game that had many twists. The
questions remain: What was the play call? Why did it fail? Why try that in that
situation?

The Play Call: Coale Given the Option to Punt or Run

In post game comments (courtesy of Andy
Bitter’s blog on roanoke.com
), Beamer said that the play was an option for
Coale to rugby punt or run for the first down.

Beamer: “It was an option: run

...