Coach Trent Miles repeated on Sunday what he said after the game: he was responsible for the fourth-and-5 call at Georgia State’s 24-yard line with 10 minutes left in the game.
The Panthers were leading 21-20 at the time of the punt. After the failed punt, they were soon trailing 23-21 because the Cajuns took advantage of the short field and kicked a field goal.
Here’s what happened:
The team has a few options after lining up to punt.
One of the options is the traditional punt. That was the play that was blocked and recovered for a touchdown in the first quarter. Louisiana-Lafayette’s Travis Crawford jumped between two of the three up-backs and blocked the punt, which was recovered for the score. That can be chalked up to a good play by Louisiana-Lafayette. Cajuns coach, Mark Hudspeth, said after the game that had decided during the week that they were going after the Panthers’ first punt.
Another option is the rugby punt, in which the blockers, the up-backs and punter Wil Lutz run a few steps to the right before he kicks the ball. Georgia State usually runs this.
An option off the rugby-style punt, which isn’t run often, involves everyone in the formation doing pretty much the same thing with two exceptions: If the opponent brings pressure to try and block the punt, which already happened once in the game, Todd Boyd, who lines up on the end of the line of scrimmage, will run across the formation, into the space left by on-rushing defensive players. Lutz then has an option to punt, pass, or run. Lutz executed the last option, the run, against Louisiana-Lafayette last year and picked up a first down.
Lutz tried to pass it on Saturday.
He said he is coached that if he immediately sees Boyd open he should pass it. He said Boyd wasn’t immediately open. But when he looked up again, Boyd was open so he passed it.
The problem is Tevin Jones, one of the up-backs and an ineligible receiver, reached up and slightly behind him and caught the pass. He couldn’t see that Boyd was a few yards behind him. Even if Boyd had caught it, I’m not sure he would have gotten the first down. He was a few yards away from the needed line and running toward the sideline with a defender near his hip.
“It was an execution problem,” Lutz said. “I should have punted it away.”
The million-dollar question is why wasn’t the fake removed as an option by the coaches on the crucial play?
Miles said on Monday that he didn’t remove the fake-option in case the Cajuns did what they did earlier and came to block the punt. He wanted Lutz an option.
Miles said Lutz will continue to handle the punting and place-kicking duties.
As for the missed field goals, Lutz took responsibility for those as well.
He said he mentally wasn’t where he should be after snapper Trey Payne suffered an injury in practice during the week and was replaced by Garrett Gorringe. Lutz expected Gorringe, the third snapper to work with Lutz since camp started in August, to mess up and he didn’t.
“Garrett put it where it was supposed to be. Clay put it down. I just overthought everything,” Lutz said.
Lutz missed field goals of 25 and 36 yards in the game. The senior is 8-of-14 this season.