Friday, April 27, 2012
Tricks of the game
In that play, the Outlaws offensive line is set up far away from the center and the ball. It is odd to see six blockers close to the camera with Monica, the running back, lined up behind the center way across the field at the far hash mark.
I asked Monica how the play worked out. She said she doesn't remember that play and explained:
"I usually block out the life threatening moments, so since I don't recall this down, one might assume the Hurricanes destroyed me."
She referred the question to coach Narlen who explained that this wasn't an original Outlaws idea but rather a trick play used frequently enough to have a name. He said:
The formation is called the swinging gate. It's typically used for two point conversions but Geoff used it a few times in this game on fourth downs to throw off the other team. In this case it was the Gulf Coast Herricanes at House Park.
I searched youtube for "Football The Swinging Gate Play" and found a few videos of the play in a game. Here's a youtube video where they passed the ball from the formation. Successfully.
Another youtube video presented "Amazing Football Trick Plays" The swinging gate is the third in the collection and this time set up a run for a touchdown. But the entire collection ranges from amusing to downright funny. If you view this video, use full-screen and be ready to back up and replay. Some of the plays not only fooled the other team but fooled the camera operator as well.
I'll comment on just a couple. Most are pretty self-explanatory.
The Fumblerooski: The Fumblerooski" is one we talked about trying back when I was playing in high school in the 1950s. The center or quarterback deliberately "fumbles" the ball by setting it down on the ground. The offensive right guard "recovers" the fumble, picking the ball up and running around the left end for a big gain. Since it isn't a real fumble practically nobody on the field realizes what has happened. Everyone is watching the quarterback who is running to the right.
In a previous blog post I told you about my missed opportunity for glory where I, playing defensive left tackle, stole the ball from the runner and just fell on it. No one knew I had it. I could have run (lumbered) to the end zone. Instead I fell on it and just waited for the official to notice the ball was missing.
The Statue of Liberty: I viewed this one over and over on the video and it never did appear clearly what was happening. The concept was introduced in the NFL many years ago and variations still show up from time to time. The quarterback takes the ball and acts like he's going to throw it, bringing his arm back in typical throwing motion. One of the running backs goes behind the quarterback and plucks the ball out of his hand and runs it around end for a big gain. The quarterback completes the throwing motion but sans the ball.
The trick plays work because they create confusion for the defense. While the defense is wondering what to do, the offense is advancing the ball. A couple of the plays on the video, the "Penalty" and "Wrong Ball" are particularly devious because they give the false impression that the play hasn't started yet. In both situations the defense bought into the offense act. The quarterback has the ball but he didn't get it the normal way so it isn't a live ball, is it? and he's just walking with it, going to hand it to an official or something... oops.
I don't know if the Outlaws or their opponents will be using trick plays this season. And I don't know how to prepare. Only one bit of advice. Once the official whistles the ball in play, consider the ball "live" until the official whistles it dead. If someone has the ball, tackle her. If the ball is on the ground, jump on it. Keep playing until the official blows the whistle to indicate the play is over.
Football is complicated. Far more than when I played the game. Add tricks to an already complex sport and it becomes almost unfair.