Nitz: Northern Illinois football coach Dave Doeren pulled out his bag of tricks during last week’s win over Central Michigan, trying a fake punt and a fake field goal. The fake field goal resulted in kicker Mathew Sims scoring a 7-yard touchdown.
Which play was the most impressive, and which one was more risky?
Jacobson: Those two plays completely caught me off guard as Doeren hasn’t taken a lot of risks early in the season. In my opinion, the fake punt was a bigger play, and more risky, because of the situation. NIU was leading, 14-7, in the first quarter and was setting up to punt from its own 35-yard line. Punter Ryan Neir picked up 17 yards and the play eventually led to a field goal, putting the Huskies up by 10. If CMU stops the Huskies on fourth-and-7, the Chippewas take over in Huskies territory and completely shift the momentum.
Were you surprised Doeren went for a fake field goal late in the game after already having converted a fake punt?
Nitz: Absolutely. I think everyone in the stadium was caught off guard, especially Central Michigan. But Doeren saw something on film that he could take advantage of the Chippewas’ special teams, and Sims’ touchdown basically iced the game. At the same time, Doeren has tried some trickery on offense this season. Receiver Perez Ashford attempted a pass early in the game last week, while fellow wideout Tommylee Lewis scored a TD on an end-around against Army. Plus, who can forget the onside kick attempt against Wisconsin last season?
I like how Doeren is willing to roll the dice. Former coach Jerry Kill was the same way. In the 2009 win at Purdue, Kill called a fake punt from his own 16-yard line late in the game that helped the Huskies run out the clock. The play helped keep a Boilermakers offense that had its way with the Huskies defense in the second half off the field.
Ross, what are some of your more memorable trick plays in college football history?
Jacobson: You don’t have to go back too far to remember two of the better trick plays. And they both came in one game: Oklahoma vs. Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos pulled off a hook-and-lateral in the fourth quarter to tie the score and send it to overtime. There, Boise State went for a two-point conversion and converted on a behind-the-back handoff to Ian Johnson for the victory.
What comes to mind for you?
Nitz: Those plays obviously stand out because it was a fairly recent game and a historical one in college football.
One famous play I always think of is Nebraska’s fumblerooski in the 1984 Orange Bowl against Miami, with Cornhuskers guard Dean Steinkuhler scoring a touchdown. The Hurricanes still won, 31-30, and went on to win the national championship, but the fumblerooski is one moment of trickery that comes to mind, as well as the two Boise State plays.