Hindsight is always 20-20, as Michigan football coach Brady Hoke would remind the public when asked about what he would change about the team’s 17-13 loss to Nebraska on Saturday.

Unlike Hoke, though, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison seems to be kicking himself after reviewing the game film. He can easily pinpoint the one thing he wished he could go back and change – it was a timeout, or rather, one he didn’t call.

Watching the tape takes Mattison back to that moment, to the fourth quarter, when Michigan had a three-point lead over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska was in the middle of a 75-yard drive, but the Wolverines were solid enough that they had stopped the Cornhuskers on the Michigan 31-yard line, facing a fourth-and-2.

But Nebraska surprised the Wolverines by deciding to go for it as opposed to attempting a field goal to tie the game.

There were enough reasons for the Cornhuskers to want to go for it on the fourth down. In his postgame press conference, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the wind was just strong enough that he didn’t think his kicker would be in a good position to succeed. Cornhusker quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. said they had so much momentum on that drive, it didn’t even occur to him the coaches would try and do anything but go for it.

The next play sealed the Wolverines’ fate — Nebraska converted the first down, not just by barreling two yards, but with a short pass that was run up about 20 yards to set up a first-and-goal that eventually led to a touchdown.

Watching the film, Mattison now sees all the glaring signs indicating he should’ve called a timeout.

“We were in man coverage, and we’ve got two young guys and they weren’t in as tight coverage as they should’ve been,” he said. “I’ll put that on me.”

Mattison said reminding those two young guys — freshmen defensive backs Dymonte Thomas and Channing Stribling — to tighten up their coverage could’ve changed everything.

In fact, Mattison mentioned four times during his Tuesday press conference that he wished he’d called the timeout to remind the two to reposition, citing the Cornhuskers’ “fast offense” as one of the things that caught the Wolverines off guard.

Now, Mattison says he’s left lamenting his lapse in judgment that could’ve changed the course of Michigan’s season.

“You’re two plays away from sitting here 8-1,” he said. “Hopefully the next time that happens, you don’t see (the cornerbacks) do that. It was a shame it was a fourth-and-2.”

Stopping that play would’ve been a huge momentum changer, but Mattison is trying to downplay the importance of a misstep like that — with the Michigan defense having to take on an increased role as of late due to offensive miscues, he tries not to bring it up too much.

“Throughout the years, our offense has bailed us out a number of times,” Mattison said. “Our message to our team before the game is you are accountable to every other guy in that defensive room.”

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