Michigan punter Blake O'Neill, just days after mishandling a punt that resulted in a miracle last-play win for Michigan State, faced all the tough questions about the play Spartans fans will never forget, and the one Michigan fans can't forget.
"Like any other punt, you just go out there (knowing what you want to do) and try to execute it to the best of your ability," O'Neill said on Tuesday, according to the MLive Media Group. "Obviously that didn't work, I tried to sort of kick it over my head and it didn't work out. That's life. That's football. You learn from it, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on."
That's a more lucid perspective, certainly, than some of the venomous social-media reaction that O'Neill drew in the wake of the Wolverines' devastating loss. It was bad enough that Michigan's interim athletic director, Jim Hackett, rebuked Wolverines fans for not being more supportive.
O'Neill said his teammates rallied behind him for support, but they weren't the only ones. Former Michigan kicker Jay Feely reached out to O'Neill, and even President Barack Obama expressed support for the team in a meeting with head coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday.
As for the specifics regarding what happened during the play, O'Neill acknowledged that he should have fallen on the ball rather than trying to pick it up and get a punt off.
Credit O'Neill, whose background is in Australian Rules Football, for facing reporters. Most major college football programs, unlike the NFL's open locker room policies, make only selected players available for mid-week interviews. Had O'Neill wanted to avoid speaking publicly about the play, at least for the time being, he certainly could have done so.