Gophers interim coach Tracy Claeys said Sunday that one decision he regretted from Saturday's 29-26 loss to Michigan was not spiking the ball as soon as Drew Wolitarsky was ruled down at the half-yard line.
With 19 seconds remaining, the Gophers were ready to go, but they called a play with several shifts and motions. By the time the incomplete pass landed, there were two seconds remaining.
"I didn’t expect it to take that much time," Claeys said. "But I haven’t been in the offense long enough, so that’s on me."
In tonight's first editions, I'll have more reflection from Claeys on Saturday’s clock management. For now, I wanted to address another confusing moment from the game.
Claeys decided not to use All-Big Ten punter Peter Mortell for an important punt in the fourth quarter. On Sunday, Claeys stood by his decision to use Ryan Santoso, re-iterating that the move wasn’t injury related.
“[Mortell] did have a leg injury the previous week, but he punted all this week,” Claeys said. “The reason we changed is off his [second] punt, he didn’t put the ball where he’s supposed to. It’s been a problem.”
Claeys said the team practiced all week on matching the coverage to the punt placement. On the second quarter punt when Jabrill Peppers returned it 41 yards, Mortell’s punt was low and to the wrong side of the field, away from the coverage.
Mortell returned and had two more punts, one for a touchback and one that pinned Michigan at its 8-yard line. But with the Gophers punting from the end zone in the fourth quarter, Claeys went with Santoso, who managed just 29 yards on his first career punt. That set up Michigan at Minnesota's 40-yard line for the winning touchdown drive.
“When you look at the film, there’s always going to be things that happen offensively and defensively, both sides of the ball,” Claeys said. “Michigan did some good things. They got us in special teams off the [kickoff] and punt return. That’s what ended up costing us the football game, when you look at it -- where they got a start on field position, as compared to where we got to start.”