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Mitchell: On Sweet Second Chances
Posted Jan 3, 2012

As Jimmy McGinty said in The Replacements, "Every athlete dreams of a second chance." Well then, the 2012 Sugar Bowl was certainly McGinty's kind of game - particularly for the Wolverines.

By: Russ Mitchell

Where to begin... Let's start with the Michigan first half, which in no particular order included:

- Two terrible punts.
- Two muffed snaps with a second string center.
- What would have been a touchdown pass barely deflected at the line of scrimmage, but deflected nonetheless.
- A great bounce pass on a well called screen play that had three blockers with no Hokies to block.
- Denard Robinson's 3/6 passing for 22 yards and one interception more than halfway through the second quarter.
- Several long 3rd down conversions by Hokie sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas, who seemed to convert long third and fourth down plays at will, and owned the Michigan defense like a first mortgage trumps a second.
- Several long David Wilson runs after initial contact by Michigan defenders.
- VT converting on two field goals with its third string place kicker who entered the game 0-2 (if both were 50+ yard attempts).

And STILL Va. Tech led only 6-0 late into the first half.

There's your First Second Chance - though that score likely had as much to do with a Michigan D that finished 2011 ranked fourth in red zone defense. (Side Note: Raise your hand if you'd like to try tackling either VT's Wilson or Thomas. Put it down - you're either lying, drunk or feeble-minded.)

Second Second Chance: A mid-second quarter Wolverine drive (using great liberty with the word "drive") was allowed to continue following a pointless Va. Tech roughing the punter penalty on the Michigan 26 yard line. Robinson followed that up with the Third Second Chance - an absolutely ridiculous late, ill-advised throw, under pressure from a blitz, on a play when Va Tech first missed the sack and then missed an easy interception, allowing receiver Junior Hemingway an uncontested 45 yard touchdown, and giving Michigan the 7-6 lead.

Fourth Second Chance: VT, normally a team that prides itself in Special Teams, fumbles the ensuing kickoff with :38 seconds left deep in its own territory. (The Hokies Special Team would make numerous mistakes throughout the evening.)

However, the VT defense would stand strong, as it did for most of the Sugar Bowl (Michigan was held to a mere 12 first downs and 184 total yards - roughly half that of VT (22 first downs and 377 total yards)). Yet, Fifth Second Chance, Michigan coach Brady Hoke would call up a fake field goal which would be defended perfectly by the Hokies...right up to the point the defenders crashed into each other, enabling the long snapper to catch the deflection with :08 seconds left. Leading to a 24 yard Michigan field goal, and a 10-6 lead at the half.

Ten Michigan points in the final :49 seconds of half number one.

The Sixth Second Chance would come on Michigan's first drive of the second half, when Robinson's errant pass to Roy Roundtree was very nearly intercepted by the incomparable junior Hokie cornerback Jayron Hosley.

A sack and a bad punt later, and freshman Wolverine Frank Clark, from Cleveland, Ohio, would give Michigan its Seventh Second Chance with a leaping interception at midfield, returning it to the Va. Tech 35 yard line, leading to...

The Eighth Second Chance, another poor, late, deep throw by Robinson (far from his best day in the maize and blue), was intercepted by Hosley...only to have it nullified for defensive pass interference. There was certainly contact, but both players were all-hands. That call gave Michigan the ball at the VT 18, and led to Robinson's best throw of the night - a beautiful touch pass to Hemingway in the back of the end zone, for a 17-6 lead.

Not to be outdone, the Hokies had several second chances of their own, largely on third and fourth down conversions - we'll call these the Ninth to Twelfth Second Chance(s). Though none bigger than the Thirteenth Second Chance, a 4-and-11, 13 yard scamper by Thomas down to the Michigan 22, which would eventually lead to the Hokies tying the score at 17. Though only after the Fourteenth Second Chance - pass interference on Michigan's Blake Countess in the end zone on 3-and-goal from the 9 yard line.

After which the usually sure-thinking VT head coach Frank Beamer gift wrapped the Fifteenth Second Chance to Hoke and Co. by attempting a fake punt from mid-field with seven minutes to play and the score tied, when his defense had stonewalled the Wolverines all night. Michigan couldn't advance the ball far, but it was enough for a field goal and a 20-17 lead. Such that VT's short field goal as time expired merely tied the game and sent it into overtime.

But perhaps the biggest second chance belonged to Michigan, and ironically came on the second to last play for the Hokies. Senior receiver Danny Coale, who had a fantastic night, appeared to make the catch of a lifetime - a one-handed, diving grab in the corner of the end zone on 3-and-5 from the Michigan 20. But replay ruled he had trapped the ball. Reserve kicker Justin Myer would miss the first of his five attempts. Michigan's own kicker, sophomore Brendan Gibbons, would kick his true - winning the game for the Wolverines in overtime, 23-20.

Second chances are a part of life, and sport is no different. In a fun night of exhibition football played on a lazy Tuesday evening in the Big Easy, Michigan made the most of theirs.

Hey everyone...They're baaaaaaaaack.

Follow me on Twitter: @RussMitchellCFB