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Theorems and Stratagems, Week 7: Faking It

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Ah, the fake punt. One of the most exciting -- and often unexpected -- plays in college football. When executed well, it can revive the fortunes of a trailing team, spark a come-from-behind effort and save a season.

When attempted while your team is in the lead, it's just plain dumb.

And so it is difficult to defend Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops' decision to roll the dice and go for the fake punt with the Sooners up 28-27 against Texas with 4:23 left in the third quarter. Bad idea, even if it almost worked, says Crimson and Cream Machine.

As they say hindsight is 20/20 but the fake punt was a bad idea in my opinion. I know Bob Stoops has been able to pull those off in the past but I just think it was a bad idea, especially when the Sooners had the lead.

All that said, Oklahoma was a failed Jermaine Gresham block away from converting on the fake punt. Notice I didn't say a missed block. I said failed block as in didn't even attempt to block.

It is generally a good idea to, you know, carry out your blocking assignments if your team is running a fake punt. But, bad blocking aside, every analyst to expound on the game said the fake punt with a lead was a bad idea. Even Lou Hol -- wait a minute...

The [Holtz-led 2003] Gamecocks then faked a punt on 4th-and-1 from their own 26 and lost six yards. ...

Matt Leach kicked a 22-yard field goal with 2:03 left in the third quarter to give Florida the lead for good, 17-16.

Holtz's response when questioned by the media?

"I agree, Lou shouldn't have called the fake punt," Holtz said. "But I'll tell you this, my logic for calling it, I'll stand by it a thousand percent."

At least he's consistent: It's a bad call, even when he makes it. But cut Dr. Lou a bit of slack -- he was obviously out of form Saturday.

(HT: Dr. Saturday)

This Week's Contestant: The Fan Sitting in 102F. Sometimes, QB controversies just happen. A coach can't help that his starter gets injured and the back-up comes in and torches an unprepared opponent's secondary, leading to calls for the next best thing.

But the Auburn quarterback situation has devolved from controversy to chaos. And far from trying to extinguish the fire, Tommy Tuberville decided to use a flame-thrower.

And now, Burns's reward for having so decisively won the QB "battle" in this game is apparently to have a lightly-regarded true freshman step up to take Todd's place so the battle can continue.

I try not to criticize Auburn's coaching staff, I really do, unless a decision they've made just makes no sense to me. But this treatment of Kodi Burns just does not make sense. At all. I have tried to understand it. I cannot.

The last part of that post speaks for pretty much anyone watching the Auburn offense in recent weeks: "Does not make sense. At all. I have tried to understand it. I cannot."

On Bowden's End. The midseason resign-ing of Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden and OC Rob Spence and  has revived the question of whether the duo used the DaviSpiller monster enough during the season.

Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg Lng TD
2008 - James Davis 6 73 400 66.7 5.5 0 5 4 39 6.5 9.8 0 0

Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg Lng TD
2008 - C.J. Spiller 6 48 314 52.3 6.5 0 5 9 111 18.5 12.3 0 1

That's an average, by the way, of 20 carries a game. That's not a terrible number of carries, but it's not exactly what you expect for what is supposed to be one of the best running tandems in the country. Despite Cullen Harper's success last year, Davis and Spiller were the best offensive players on the team. Giving them just 20 carries is questionable at best -- and ultimately might have cost Bowden his job.

Assorted grievances. It's hard to win when the opponent can figure out 80 percent of your run plays pre-snap (pre-2008 Michigan fans feel your pain) ... Why complain about specific play-calls when your problem is really with the whole freaking game?