Trick Play Backfires in Big Time College Football
Many youth football coaches are “football junkies”. We like watching pro or college football. Sometimes we even see things that we think we can use for our own youth football teams. Often times this is how youth coaches come up with trick plays.
College Bowl Game SNAFU
Utah decided to “go” for it with a play that is designed to draw the defense off-sides. This was a pretty safe and savy strategy, you are either going to get 5 free yards and a first down or you are going to take a delay of game penalty and punt on 4th down. Punting from the 45 instead of the 50 even gives your punter more room to pin Bama deep inside it’s 20 yard line. No matter how the play turned out, the Utes will have improved thier situation.
I’m not sure why more teams don’t try this very safe tactic which often yields teams a free first down with zero risk, even at the college level. Utah started out with it’s offensive linemen in very wide splits and in two-point stances and Quarterback under center. After the players had been set for at least a second, Utah then moved in unison, with the offensive linemen moving inward together to narrow the splits and the Quarterback backpedalling to a shotgun formation.
While the play did result in Bama jumping off-sides, the Utes were called for a 5 yard penalty for “illegally simulating the start of the play” a 5 yard penalty. The officials got it right on this one. While you can try to get teams to jump off-sides via varying cadence, players can not shift quickly in such a manner that simulates the start of a play.
We use a very legal “no play” in these situations with great success. We usually run it 2-5 times a game to get teams to jump at significant times during a game, when we want to call timeout or even when we just want teams to stop jumping or anticipating our snap count. Our success rate of getting teams to jump offsides over the last 11 seasons has always been between 70%-90%. It is a great but under used strategy in youth football.
The rule invoked in the Utah-Alabama game is why many teams that shift, do so slowly and deliberately. That is why teams that run Jet Sweep type motion plays often have their motion man take a slow deliberate drop step before he starts his full speed motion towards the quarterback.