Fool Me Once…

I saw that the Senator has posted his thoughts on the Tennessee game, including this bit about your hero and mine, Aaron Murray:

If anything, I didn’t do Aaron Murray’s game sufficient justice. One thing I know I didn’t mention was how good he’s gotten at carrying out his play fakes. He’s really becoming a nightmare to defend on roll outs because of that and because of the threat he poses running the ball.

This is something that I’ve been thinking about as well. And I know the angst that some quite a few a whole lot of Dawgs fans feel right now towards our use of the play action pass. But while it should be obvious to everyone that no one is fooled by our play action because of the lack of success we’ve had running the ball, what’s not as obvious is the actual location of the ball when Murray performs his sleight of hand.

For comparison, I thought I’d take a look at one of the best play action fakes I’ve (n)ever seen, made, of course, by David Greene:

What a beauty, yeah? You’ve got to figure that at least 92,746 pairs of eyes were fooled on that play. And we were all looking right at it. Here’s another nice fake, performed by Matthew Stafford:

Maybe Virginia Tech’s pass rushers weren’t completely fooled by the fake but their secondary sure was. You know, I’ve always admired the nonchalant way the quarterback acts after the fake hand off. It’s certainly something I wouldn’t be able to pull off, knowing all the time that some 250 pound monster was bearing down on me. Hell, when my new iRobot rang the other day, it startled me badly because I’d been using it so much to surf the ‘Net and such that I forgot one of its primary functions is to serve as a phone.

Now let’s take a look at a couple of plays by Aaron Murray:

Did you see the Tennessee pass rusher at the bottom of the screen get completely fooled by the fake hand off? If you missed it, here it is again, on a different play:

It’s interesting that what we’re seeing in both examples is the same play, just run with two different men in motion. In the first play, Orson Charles slips after showing block and is unable to recover in time for the play to go off as intended. Fortunately, Murray improvises and picks up ten or so yards and the first down. In the second play, Kris Durham is the man in motion and this time, the play works as planned and we see Kris make a nice catch and run as a result. Two plays, one busted and one working, with the same results: Dawgs first downs.

As the Senator mentioned, Aaron Murray’s ability to sell the fake as well as his threat to run the ball will keep defenses second-guessing. And the difference between a play succeeding for a nice gain or failing for a sack can often be caused by a moment’s hesitation by the defense.

After all the praise of Aaron Murray, I do have one little nitpick. If you’ll recall, I made a post yesterday about Aron White’s reception and run. Remember earlier, when I mentioned how cool and nonchalant Greene and Stafford were after the fake hand off? If you take a closer look at that play, as Murray is dropping back after the play fake, he isn’t exactly acting all cagey-like. Now, I’m not saying he was running around like a headless chicken but he does do a sort of shuffle with his feet, almost like he’s excitedly jogging back to his release point. Like I said, it’s a little nitpick and I’m probably reading something into it that’s not there. Maybe I’m just crazy and have been watching too much video on our victory. Upon reflection, there’s no maybe about that previous sentence.

Go Dawgs!


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