Dan Mullen admits to 'bad clock management' in SEC Championship Game
Down 35-17 at the half, No. 7 Florida rallied in the second half to cut into No. 1 Alabama’s lead. The Gators were never able to tie or take the lead but they had the slimmest of chances on one final possession down 52-46.
The circumstances of the possession had some fans and media members calling out Dan Mullen’s decision making. Kyle Trask found Kyle Pitts for a touchdown with 2:07 left on the clock to cut it to 52-44. Instead of lining up to kick the extra point, Mullen used a timeout to call a two-point play. After a flag on Alabama on the first try, the second try was successful, making 52-46.
The decision to use the timeout was criticized on social media. Florida attempted an onside kick and did not recover. The Gators were able to stop the clock just once more. The UF defense came up with one of its few stops, but the Crimson Tide punted with only 26 seconds left on the clock. Having the timeout available on defense could have forced an earlier punt.
Mullen admitted to “bad clock management” in the postgame press conference:
“That was bad clock management on my part,” Mullen said when asked about his thought process after the Pitts touchdown. “We should have had it ready to go for two. Our thought, though, is we’re going for two right there, we’re going to try the on-side kick. We’re here to win. Would have given us two two-point conversions. If we didn’t get the first one, we’d have to get the second one to tie. If we got the first one, all we needed there was an extra point to win the game at the end. That was the thought process to go for two.
“That was a bad job by me, we had to use that timeout there. Would have loved to have that timeout and given us an extra 40 seconds of the ball to try to get the and-one touchdown.”
The punt and an attempted return by Kadarius Toney took 10 seconds off the clock. Trask was then sacked in what turned out to be the final play of the game.