NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In four preseason games, Mike Munchak looked comfortable in a headset, roaming the sideline as the Titans’ front man.
But the regular season is a completely different animal. We have no idea how he will be as a game manager, as a clock manager, as a thrower of the challenge flag. In a tense moment when he has to make a quick decision about accepting or declining a penalty or about burning a timeout or asking Matt Hasselbeck to spike the ball, how will Munchak operate?
“I think you are playing that game with yourself now, when you know you are the one making those decisions,” Munchak said. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing is just managing the game and thinking a play ahead on offense and defense. I’m always thinking now, if there was a penalty, would I take it? If there is a penalty on their offense, would I take the penalty, or would I let the play play out, assuming it’s an incomplete pass.
“So I start playing those games more than I ever have, because before I never had to think about those things. Now I think ahead and click over to [special-teams coach] Alan Lowery and say, ‘Can he make this field goal’ if it’s another kicker? So, maybe I need to back him up 10 if we get a penalty right here rather than them punt. I think there are a lot of those during preseason that I spent more time on.”
As a Hall of Fame player and a longtime position coach, Munchak surely developed situational philosophies. It will be interesting to see them in action for the first time on Sunday at EverBank Field.
The job has changed the way he watches a college game on TV.
“Now I’m thinking, ‘Well, I would have done this, or I would have done that,’” he said. “Even when the other team has the ball in preseason, I’m thinking well I would have probably called a timeout there or maybe I would let the clock run.”
I suspect his second-guessing of Penn State's decisions when he gets to watch his Nittany Lions will be on a lesser scale.