After what was arguably Michigan”s toughest loss in years, objective one for the new week is making it a new week.
Michigan players were on their guard yesterday, attempting to make it very clear that the controversial loss to Michigan State was in the past, and that their minds were already focused on Minnesota.
“It was tough,” tight end Bill Seymour said. “It”s a roller-coaster. But that”s last week. We”ve got to put it behind us.”
But it was also obvious that there was plenty left to discuss about one of the most questionable finishes that college football has seen this season.
Coach Lloyd Carr would not directly answer questions asking if he had petitioned the Big Ten regarding the controversial clock management that appeared to give Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker an extra second to spike the ball.
Generally, complaints regarding officiating are directed to the Big Ten”s coordinator of officials, Dave Parry. Carr implied that the two had spoken, but gave no definitive answer.
“One of the other values of intercollegiate athletics and of our system of life here is that in most situations, we have a system in which we can try to effect changes that we feel are necessary,” Carr said. “That”s true in the Big Ten Conference.”
He then expounded on his refusal to discuss his intentions regarding the officials” decision.
“I always take exception when people discuss conversations with Dave Parry. We have agreed as coaches that we”re not going to do that. So I just don”t think it”s proper.”
“I don”t blame the officials for anything,” defensive lineman Grant Bowman said. “We put ourselves in the situation where we put the game in the hands of the officials and it shouldn”t have ever gotten there.”
At least one Wolverine agreed with Bowman”s assessment of Saturday”s game.
“We just weren”t supposed to win that game,” Seymour said. “We didn”t deserve to win.”
To call or not to call: Watch defensive end Shantee Orr line up before the play. Watch him react to the center”s snap. Watch an offensive lineman grab him and hold onto him in a dire effort to protect the quarterback. Watch the officials look away.
It”s a problem that became very evident as Saturday”s game ended. Holding is a judgment call a flag can be thrown for this penalty on just about any play. Offensive linemen are always going to hold the defenders if it means preventing a sack. And about 20 percent of the time, it actually gets called.
On the last play against the Spartans, Michigan”s Larry Stevens made a great play on the line and was charging after Smoker. He was blatantly held, leaving Smoker free, but nothing was called.
Obviously, it is common for officials to swallow their whistles late in close games. Nobody wants to see a referee decide the game”s outcome. But Michigan players weren”t thrilled with the situation, which was just another difficult thing to accept in the wake of the loss.
“Holding is one of the sketchiest calls that there is,” Bowman said. “You could probably throw a holding flag on any given play and you could probably not throw it on any plays at all. It really goes out to the judgment of the referee and whether he wants to call it.
“As a defensive player, you always think there”s a lot more holding than ever gets called and as an offensive player, I”m sure they never think there is holding.”