Brady Hoke’s mouth was half agape as he talked to special teams ace Floyd Simmons on the sidelines. Hoke had just called his first timeout of the second half with 5:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. But the ‘oops’ look said he knew he made a mistake.

It was a questionable decision considering the circumstances: Facing a 4th-and-6 near midfield, Iowa was ready to punt.

“Why call a timeout if you’re Michigan?” ESPN anchor Dave Pasch asked rhetorically. “Don’t you need to save your timeouts?”

Hoke said he had counted 12 men on the field for Michigan.

To Hoke’s credit, had the five-yard penalty been called, Iowa would’ve had a 4th-and-1 situation. The Hawkeyes were initially going to go for it, facing a 4th-and-1, but they were called for a false start and were forced to punt. Worried about the penalty, Hoke called timeout.

But, as Hoke realized afterward, there were only 11 Wolverines on the field.

“I didn’t count very well,” Hoke said. “And as soon as I called it and counted, I said, ‘I hope we don’t need that one late.’ ”

Twenty minutes later, Hoke’s hands were tied because of it, especially after Junior Hemingway’s would-be touchdown catch was called incomplete with seven seconds left.

On Monday, Hoke rehashed many ‘what-ifs’ that weighed heavily on Michigan’s 24-16 loss at Iowa, mostly concerning Hemingway, but also the timeout blunder.

Hoke had used his second timeout to stop the clock as Michigan got the ball back on its final drive. And he called his third and final timeout, instead of spiking the ball, when the Wolverines got a first down at the three-yard line with 16 seconds left.

Without any timeouts, Michigan was forced to throw the ball four times. The luxury of the pass-run option was not afforded the Wolverines and the dynamic quarterback Denard Robinson, who could have been forced to watch the clock tick away had a run not been successful.

A team that ranked among the nation’s best at running the ball had to throw it.

“No (regrets),” Hoke said of his timeout usage down the stretch. “We talked about that (Sunday). Going into the two-minute at the end, knowing where we were timeout-wise, I thought (offensive coordinator) Al (Borges) really managed it well. We had four shots at the endzone. Two of them we had in our hands.”

Hoke was still convinced Monday that Hemingway caught it.

“I thought Junior made a catch,” Hoke said.

In bounds?

“Oh yeah.”

Did he finish the process of catching the ball?

“You see, that’s where everything gets diluted,” Hoke responded. “What is that rule?”

How do you perceive it?

“I thought he caught the ball.”

And he finished the catch and everything?

“Hm-hm,” he affirmed.

Redshirt sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint said every player thought Hemingway had caught it when they reviewed the game film on Sunday.

When the play happened live, the officials immediately ruled it incomplete, but then it was reviewed in the booth. After the review, the official was ambiguous: “The ruling on the field stands as called. The pass is incomplete. Third down.”

That was it.

On the telecast, Pasch explained that the explanation meant they did not have enough video evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.

Hoke was never given an explanation during the game or at any point afterwards. He added that they didn’t have time during the game to explain why or how they ruled Hemingway’s catch incomplete.

Like he does every week with a handful of plays, Hoke will ask the Big Ten office about the ruling on Hemingway’s would-be catch.

“I think it’s just the way it goes,” Hoke said. “Just part of the game. We’re always trying to get, ‘Is that the right call? Why did they call it?’ More than anything.”

Senior leaders Ryan Van Bergen and Dave Molk both expressed some level of disdain for the call, but both were stoic in their approach to move forward — a trait that Hoke has valued win or lose.

“I think the honest approach we take every Sunday with our kids — good or bad — (will help),” Hoke said. “We’ll move through that and past it pretty quick. They know.

“(Monday), there will be a bunch of them over in the office watching film on Illinois. They’ll turn the page pretty quickly. Kids are a heck of a lot more resilient than we are. We’ve got to take that next step and so do they.”

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