Statue of Liberty

Tim May

LOS ANGELES — The Ohio State defensive players know to be on the lookout Tuesday for something exotic from Washington in the Rose Bowl.

Coach Chris Petersen is not averse to calling what most folks refer to as “trick plays.” It was a spate of those plays Petersen, then Boise State’s first-year coach, called on Jan. 1, 2007, in the Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma that delivered the seminal victory in the history of the Broncos’ program, and Washington no doubt has them in its repertoire.

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This is the one, an oldie but a goodie, that Boise State used for the two-point conversion that sealed that win over the Sooners. It’s the “Statue of Liberty,” or “Statue Left,” as the Huskies probably call it, just like the Broncos did. Its inventor was Amos Alonzo Stagg. The coach who really took it places was Fielding H. Yost at Michigan. One modern coach not afraid to use it is Petersen.

In the contemporary college game, with the demand put on defenses to run to the ball, and with wide screens a major part of most team’s offenses, it can be as effective as ever.

That’s because the Huskies might send a bunch formation of three receivers out wide, to the right in this case, while running back Myles Gaskin lines up behind quarterback Jake Browning. At the snap, Gaskin feigns a pass block while Browning fades back and fakes a pass to the right with a demonstrably high arm swing, sending the defense responding to that side.

But with the ball in his left hand, Browning reaches back to Gaskin, whose desire is to run as fast as possible to the left and freedom, since often that side is bereft of defenders who have bitten on the fake. The key to stopping it is for each defender, as Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland said, “to take care of your responsibility” no matter the trickery.