Drawing Up Trick Play(s)?

Submitted by profitgoblue on October 20th, 2010 at 10:37 AM

I've been thinking about Michigan's use of trick plays (and lack thereof) this season and couldn't help wonder whether Rodriguez is keeping something under wraps for the Ohio State game.  Part of me wants to see some kind of unique formation and/or play but, on the other hand, I'm always apprehensive about plays that have below-average success rates.

Do most coaches generally have one or two trick plays in their playbook that can be called in any given game?  Does Michigan even need a trick play given that the offense has shown the ability to move the ball against pretty much every defense so far this year?



October 20th, 2010 at 10:45 AM ^

RR's offense creates so many mismatches and grossly open skill players as it is that he really doesn't need to pull out any trick plays. 

Besides, can you imagine the shitstorm that the anti-RR crowd would create if he called a trick play and it backfired?


October 20th, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

That's the problem with trick plays. I personally love a well thought out and executed trick play, but if it's sniffed out the coach takes all kinds of crap from people that would have been all over his nuts if it had worked.

R Kelly

October 20th, 2010 at 11:38 AM ^

I know, RR situation is different than most rabble rabble hot seat rabble whatever, but generally speaking coaches should not be calling plays based on what the fans reaction to them will be.  If a coach calls a trick play, it is because he thinks it will give his team the best chance to win, and because at that point in time he feels the risk is justified.  Whether or not we think he is an idiot for genius for doing it should be irrelevant.


October 20th, 2010 at 10:46 AM ^

I'm pretty sure that coaches have a battery of trick plays that they can call up in any given situation.   As with fake field goals, punts and what not, I think they need to be called when the situation wouldn't normally warrant it.  I remember the Michigan Vs. Florida game where it seemed like Lloyd was almost saying, "Hey you know that play on page 45....well lets use it".


October 20th, 2010 at 10:56 AM ^

I think everyone in the MGoBlog community should draw up a trick play - only legal formations allowed - and submit the play on a single thread dedicated for this contest. The person with the most upvotes wins, and innovator of the best play will receive a shitton of points and a new, beautiful self confidence and the right to question all things RR with no retribution, as they have proved to be of coaching competence and a sage. So get to work you marvelous basterds (Tarantino spelling).

Space Coyote

October 20th, 2010 at 1:04 PM ^

First it's a reverse, to take advantage of teams over pursuing on the zone hand off.

Next, it's a double reverse.  See, I put in the pulling guard as if to say, "Hey this is a key that we are running this way" so they thought "that's odd, oh, now I see, it's because it's a reverse."  Over pursue back the other way for the reverse, then suddenly "OH NO!  DOUBLE REVERSE!"  Pulling guard in perfect position to make blocks, as are the original zone read blocks.

But wait, so now they are pursuing back and the safeties are flying hard to the line of scrimmage in a panic, so then what?  QB Throw Back!  The original O-line that was blocking like a zone block release off the block and head out to the flat, where the initial reverse wide receiver is prepared to block down field already.  The slot has taken the free safety and corner to the far side of the field.  Now, if the double reverse receiver throws it back across the field, Denard has three blockers leading the way to the endzone on the "Double Reverse QB Throw Back!  I prefer running it in my own endzone to maximize the big play effect.  


I still think this might work better if the slot runs a fake post back to the corner and the RB then runs a wheel route after the initial reverse hand off and the QB after the QB throw back throws it to the RB on the wheel route, but I guess that's just a pipe dream... for now.

Up next, the trans-transcontinental!


October 20th, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^


Didn't he try that last year against OSU? I seem to remember a deep bomb to Denard, and I want to say some pistol formations. Maybe even an option pitch look? I seem to remember it all failed horribly. 

I don't see many trick plays being called. Fake field goals wouldn't work cause everyone knows our kicking is awful. End arounds aren't really trick plays in this offense, we've ran a few the last couple years.

An unexperienced team like this, trick plays just don't seem to be worth the risk. When things are running fine, this offense will destroy anyone. I could see a reverse or a pitch back to Denard on a sweep or bubble screen to try to break the offense out of some struggles, but that would probably be it. 


October 20th, 2010 at 11:18 AM ^

but what happened to the play where Denard fakes the QB iso and throws it to Roundtree? That play was there EVERY time, it was absent against MSU and Iowa.


October 20th, 2010 at 11:48 AM ^

You mean other than that new fangled hellfire spread offense he seems so gosh-durned intent on running? The one with his players running thisaway and thataway all willy-nilly down the dad-gummed field?



October 20th, 2010 at 11:49 AM ^

I dislike trick plays.  It usually requires introducing new concepts in practice that eat away time for a play that you can run once, maybe twice, before its rendered completely useless.  That's practice time that you can use to actually introduce plays that can be run over and over again in the course of a season.

Something like a HB Pass takes at least 10-15 initial reps to get everybody on the same page and performing at an acceptable level.  Then you probably practice 5 or so reps of it a week in order to maintain familiarity.  That's a big investment to make on a play that is only halfway surprising to any defense.  That's also time you don't spend adding a new wrinkle to your base offense, like the midline or veer option.


October 20th, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

I'm not a huge fan of trick plays, either.

However, in the first-hand experience I have of being involved with trick plays (playing and coaching), the practice time needed for their sufficient execution isn't really that outsized.  From what I've found, all the players are so excited about running something different that they catch on to WHO they should block and WHAT they should do pretty quickly.

Now, we might run an I-formation iso play 5 times each practice and then run it 12 times a game...and we might go over the trick play 2 times in a practice and use it only once the entire season.  That may seem like a waste of time, but if it works in a game and gives you the points/momentum you need to win even one game, then I'd say it's worth it.


October 20th, 2010 at 1:26 PM ^

Take the trans-continental, but have both Tate and Denard lined up in the backfield. Denard gets the direct snap, fakes the handoff to Hopkins, keeps sweeping right then passes it back to Tate who went to the left. Denard then sprints out to join the receiving corps and Tate passes it to Denard who dilithiums for the TD.


October 20th, 2010 at 3:46 PM ^

(I drew this up in paint, but don't know how to upload it)


WR                       T  G  C  G  T                            WR

                                     TF RB                           DR   DG


On snap, Denard runs to Tate, where Tate fakes the handoff.  Tate then throws a screen to Devin (the running back and right wide receiver are blocking for Devin).  Devin then throws to Denard, who, after the fake handoff, went long down the left sideline.  The left wide receiver runs a post route (Devin could also throw to this reciever).  Touchdown.


October 20th, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

Wouldn't mind seeing one everyone once in a while, but not a giant fant.


UCLA ran a great trick play a while back called "Disneyland" - Can't seem to find it anywhere. The QB would walk up like he was going to put his hands under center then would "see something in the defense" and audible. So he'd walk up and down the line "calling the audible" to his line. One of the things he says actually is the call to snap the ball to the RB. The RB then throws the ball to the WR streaking down the sidelines. The idea is that the defense is relaxed because the QB isn't under center and don't think the ball is going to be snapped. Obviously you need a RB (or someone where the RB would be) who could heave the ball.

Might not work great since we don't line up under center a ton, but was a good take on a trick play.