As a first-year NFL head coach, Dirk Koetter has talked about the stress and chaos of clock management at the end of a half in the NFL, and he has an assistant, Andrew Weidinger, whose title includes "game management" as part of his job.
He thanked Weidinger for a "great job" helping in end-of-half situations Sunday -- the Bucs got a go-ahead touchdown on a drive that started in the final two minutes of the first half -- and said one of his biggest adjustments has been handling everything that can happen in that frenetic final minute or two.
"One thing that was a big change for me, coming from college to the NFL is all the clock, all the game-ending situations," Koetter said Thursday. "In college, you practice all that stuff. Rarely does it come up -- no offense to Oklahoma State. But in the NFL, they come up. Every week there's unbelievable situations that come up and you just have to be on top of it, because the clock's not stopping and you just don't have that time to get the players up there."
Oklahoma State, of course, had an untimed down incorrectly given to Central Michigan, allowing them to pull off a wild Hail Mary hook-and-ladder touchdown. Officials later said the final play was awarded by mistake, but would not reverse the final outcome of the game.
Koetter looked clock-smart in his first game Sunday, calling a time out with 1:50 left after the Bucs stopped the Falcons on third down before a field goal. That saved 40 seconds or so, and the Bucs got the ball back with 1:45 left, giving them time to pull off a 10-play drive in 1:31, using only one other time out before scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 0:14 left.
"I enjoy that part of it," said Koetter, who brought Weidinger with him from the Falcons last year as an offensive assistant. "It's challenging, but yet there are certain guys that I've talked to about it that think we are way better at it than me, and they're giving me scenarios. We've got guys upstairs that are putting situations together, that sort of thing."