Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Muffed punts

The muffed punt at the end of the 2015 MSU/U-M game was a costly mistake that led to a devastating loss in a rivalry game.  The loss was reminiscent of the 1979 OSU/U-M game which was another rivalry game which was decided by a muffed punt.  In that game, the Wolverines lost 18-15 before the largest crowd ever to that point to attend a college football game- 106,255.  Michigan elected to punt on 4th down from their own 38-yard line with 11:21 to play in the game and the Wolverines leading the Buckeyes 15-12.  Ohio State massed 10 players on the line of scrimmage intent on blocking the kick rather than setting up a run back.  Linebacker Jim Laughlin came through the left side untouched and blocked the punt which was scooped up by LB Todd Bell who ran the ball back the final 18 yards for the winning touchdown.

Afterward, [Michigan Head Coach Bo] Schembechler said, "The point is that our kicking game has been disastrous. With a decent kicker, well, I don't say we'd
be undefeated [the Wolverines are 8-3], but we'd sure be better.
I'll tell you, if I were the greatest high school kicker in the
country, I'd contact Schembechler, because he's definitely
interested." *[Sports Illustrated, 11-26-1979: Buckeye Block Party]

For anyone who thought Coach Harbaugh did not do enough in his immediate post-game comments to "protect" Punter Blake O'Neill, they should compare those comments to Coach Schembechler's comment above about his kicker (Virgil) from the 1979 season who went through something similar.  Schembechler was much tougher on his player. Go Blue!

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