In each of the past two weeks FAU called, and properly executed, trick plays at crucial points in the game, resulting in two of the longest passing touchdowns of the year for the Owls.
“Everybody else is like, Oh my God,” running back Buddy Howell said. “We’re peeping for the final result. We know it’s going to come up. Once we see the first part executed, the second part executed you just laugh because you see somebody wide open. It’s fun.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that FAU has a sackful of trickeration at its disposal. In coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles the Owls have two of the most creative play designers in college football.
Throughout the spring and fall camp the Owls frequently mixed wide receiver passes, double reverses and other unconventional play calls into their offensive sets.
“In the fall a lot of times we were kind of working on everything, kind of get a feel for things,” Kiffin said. “You try to have them in your bank. You pull them up in certain times when (defenses) do certain looks.”
FAU unsuccessfully tried a double pass in the opener against Navy, but took a hiatus from such calls until successfully connecting on a double pass for a touchdown to Devin Singletary two weekends ago in the win over Marshall.
It wasn’t that the Owls didn’t have trick plays in the game plan, Kiffin and Briles didn’t call the plays because the right situation didn’t present itself.
“Sometimes it’s a certain hash – so sometimes you have it read and you don’t get to that hash on second and short, or what ever it is,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin followed the success of the Marshall double-pass TD with a play where Singletary lined up as the quarterback in the wildcat formation, gave the ball to wide receiver Kamrin Solomon on a reverse, who in turn flipped it back to quarterback Jason Driskel, who had lined up at wide receiver.
Driskel looked downfield and saw no defender within 20 yards of wide receiver Kalib Woods, who caught the pass and strolled into the end zone.
Unlike his touchdown catch the previous week, after taking the snap and getting the ball to Solomon, Singletary became, essentially, a fan in the La. Tach game, watching what he called a “breathtaking” touchdown.
“Once the ball’s in the air, it’s just like, Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!” Singletary said “It’s another one of these plays. You know it’s going to be a touchdown.”
Even with all the effort on the front end of the play, Driskel’s pass to Woods became one of the easiest touchdowns FAU scored all year.
“It’s pretty cool seeing it work in the games,” center Antonyo Woods said. “When I hear (the play call), I’m like, Oh man, we’re calling it? Then when it works it’s like, Oh Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!”
Even if the trick plays don’t work, they still serve a purpose. Once an opponent knows a coach is willing – even eager – to go to his bag of tricks, the defense understands it has to respect the possibility of an unexpected call.
“You’re still putting them on tape,” Kiffin said. “A lot of times they complement other things. You run reverses off certain runs so that when they over-pursue on the backside, now they’ve got to worry that, oh, he’s going to run that reverse – so that guy’s got to stay home.”