Holtz addresses not taking time outs late vs. Miami
It's been four days now, so a little late with this, but enough of you asked after Saturday's game why USF coach Skip Holtz didn't use any time outs during Miami's final drive in the Hurricanes' 6-3 win that I asked him directly about that during Monday's weekly news conference.
Miami, you'll remember, got the ball with 5:43 left and converted three third downs before kicking a 36-yard field goal as time expired for a 6-3 win. Holtz used two time outs to ice the kicker, but didn't take any during the Hurricanes' drive that might have given USF time to answer a go-ahead field goal. (We should point out that, under similar circumstances, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops called a time out in a tie game against Baylor, and the stop prompted the Bears to go for a last-second score, which they got for an upset victory.)
Here's what Holtz had to say, asked to explain his rationale in not taking time outs during Miami's final drive:
"Before they get into field-goal range, you don't want to call a time out 'cause you don't want to give them more time to get there. So you're sitting there and you're saying 'OK, do you take one now?' They're on the 40-yard line, so do you stop the clock or do you let the clock run and maybe force them to maybe end the game on the 40-yard line.
"When they got down inside and got a little bit closer, it was something I thought about and looked at, but at the same time, do you take the time out and give them a chance to organize their thoughts, to move it down in their closer. They finished with a fourth-and-1 ... If you second-guess or hindsight it, if I knew they weren't going to make a first down, yeah, I would have taken a time out after the thing. Do you want to get them in the end zone, or do you want to make sure they kick the field goal? I didn't want to give them more time. I wasn't trying to save time to give them an opportunity. Because it's not like we had stopped them. I believe they converted four, three third downs on that drive. It was eating a lot of time, slowly moving down the field. If it would have been one chunk of yardage and they're in field-goal range, OK, take the time outs, make them kick the field goal, then we'll have the ball with time left back on the clock. Once it got down there, after the third-down call, there was 12 seconds and I think they called time out with two or three. At that point, it was irrelevant. I would have saved 10 seconds off the clock. In hindsight, I probably should have taken one after first down. Once they got on the fringe. The other side you're looking at is 'Let's not stop the clock and let them get into field-goal range or get into the end zone' either."
Following Holtz's logic, Miami didn't even cross midfield until 1:28 was left, and the next two plays went out of bounds, stopping the clock. Miami took a time out with 1:09 left. But when Miami got a first down at the USF 28-yard line, they were arguably in field goal range with 1:03 left and the clock still running. USF didn't take a time out, and 14 seconds ran off the clock before Miami snapped the ball. On second down, Miami was stopped at the 20 with 40 seconds left, and again, USF didn't take a time out, with 25 seconds running off the clock before Miami snapped the ball with 15 seconds left for its final offensive play.
So two time outs used on those two plays -- again, with the benefit of hindsight -- could have given USF 39 seconds for a potential comeback drive, though Miami's play-calling could have changed as a result of those time outs as well. With two seconds left as Miami prepared for its field goal, ESPN's broadcasters made the observation that "You wonder with South Florida having all three time outs, if they would want to take some to save a little bit of time off the clock."