Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson has gained a bit of a reputation for running trick plays. The Red Wolves have attempted a fake punt, flea flicker, and double pass, among other misdirection plays, so far this season. A reverse and fake reverse may not seem like much of a trick compared to some of these other plays, but those have perhaps been A-State’s most successful “trick” plays this season.
First, we will go back to A-State’s win over Utah State earlier this season. Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Red Wolves faced a 3rd and 9 at the Aggies 12. A-State had struggled on offense all day, not scoring any points, but had just recovered a fumble in scoring position. Anderson dialed up a reverse in an effort to catch Utah State off guard and gain some momentum.
The Red Wolves lined up in a trips formation with Johnston White in the backfield as the running back. The play was designed to fake an outside zone run to the right before the ball would be pitched to slot receiver J.D. McKissic to run around the left edge. After blocking to the right, the left tackle and guard would peel off and become the lead blockers for McKissic. White took the hand off from quarterback Fredi Kinghton and the line blocked as if the play was an outside zone run to the right. As White took the hand off, the line did a really good job of selling the run by moving to the right to make their blocks. McKissic ran behind the play, preparing to take the pitch from White.McKissic took the pitch from White while the blocks began to develop. Left tackle Jemar Clark and left guard Devin Mondie peeled off to the left to be lead blockers for McKissic. Knighton got in position to screen the unblocked defensive end. Utah State’s defenders bit hard on the sweep action and were totally unprepared for the reverse. McKissic was able to get to the edge and run into the end zone for a touchdown.The Red Wolves came back with a counter to this play to get White in the end zone versus Georgia State. The play was run on a similar spot on the field, as the ball was on the 13 yard line and the left hash. A-State lined up in the same formation, but this time White kept the ball on the outside zone and faked the pitch to McKissic. The Red Wolves offensive line, specifically right guard Alan Wright, did a good job controlling the defensive line. Right tackle Colton Jackson and center Tyler Greve got to the second level to block the linebackers. White faked the pitch with an exaggerated motion and McKissic threw his hands up in the air to draw the defense’s attention.The fake reverse action completely fooled the defense. Right here, we see four defenders are running, or turning to run, towards McKissic and the other four in this picture are either being blocked or out of position. Jackson and Greve are in position to block the linebackers.White received great blocks from tight end Darrion Griswold and flanker Tres Houston on the edge, and none of the defenders on the inside were in position to make the stop. White walked into the end zone without a defender ever coming near him.
The Panthers had obviously seen the reverse on film and were prepared to stop it. What they weren’t prepared for was the fake reverse. The reverse against Utah State was a great call, but even better was the patience in waiting to run the fake. Anderson had the fake in his back pocket ever since McKissic’s touchdown and he pulled it out at just the right time. Anderson and the Red Wolves do an excellent job with misdirection plays to keep defenses on their toes.