Boise State's Chris Petersen Is Much More Then A Bag Full Of Tricks Head Coach

Everyone seems to always remember the trick play that helped a team win the big game and sometimes that stigma of winning unconventionally sticks with a coach, player or program. That stigma has stayed with Boise State ever since they defeated Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl where the Broncos used a hook-and-ladder play to tie the game and send it to overtime. Then Boise went on to put quarterback Jared Zabransky in motion for a hallback pass by Vinny Perretta who threw a touchdown pass in overtime to put Boise within one, and finally came the statue of liberty play for the win on the two-point conversion.

To reminisce, here are those three plays with insight from then-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin:


While those three plays are the most memorable what people forget is that Boise State used running back Ian Johnson and beat up Oklahoma while running out to an early lead, and I recall for myself I turned the game off with Boise up big (and because it was late) I went to sleep and finished watching in the morning. 

Boise State became known as a team to some people who used trick plays to defeat teams with better talent, but when you look at the three key plays in that Fiesta Bowl only the statue of liberty play was a real gimmick play. The Boise offense was ahead of the curve, because very few teams were running the 'wildcat' in 2007 and the hook-and-ladder play is something any team would have tried to do to get the 18 yards; Boise State just happened to get a touchdown out of it.

There is a reason that Texas hired away Harsin from Boise State to help run their offense. He is innovative and progressive in his play calling, but he also knows how to run an offense that does not have to rely on gimmicks to get the job done.

No one called the Pittsburgh Steelers a team that relied on trick plays to win games when they had Antwaan Randle-El throwing passes or other tricks they used to gain an advantage. Or when traditional power teams use trick plays it just seems part of the game, but when Boise State does it, they need it to be able to win games. Urban Meyer was praised at Florida with the Tebow jump pass and saying how innovative it was and a great play call for that type of trick or misdirection play, but when a non-BCS school does a gimmick play they are looked down upon.

It is cliché to say that Boise State calls those trick plays at the right time, but part of it is to call at the right time. However the more important part of a trick play is the execution. Also, the Broncos are not afraid to run a trick play when the game is tight just gain an advantage. Just look at the 2010 Fiesta Bowl against TCU where a fake punt was called when the game was tight and it completely caught TCU's normally disciplined defense off guard.


Coach Petersen is a coach who still runs the gimmick play occasionally and the only reason people say Boise State relies on trick plays is mainly because of that Fiesta Bowl where those plays were used to win the game. In reality, the Broncos are a more balanced team and do not need trick plays to beat teams. Petersen is not reckless with these types of plays, because if he ran trick plays all the time, then that defeats the purpose of the surprise that the trick play provides. I have always felt Boise State has been more progressive in their offense when they do run those plays.

The Broncos are much more then that, because it is hard to have a gimmick offense while also having a Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback in Kellen Moore, Ryan Clady being drafted in the first round, or having wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis both being taken in the NFL Draft. 

Also, just look at the running attack Boise has with Doug Martin who had over 1,200 yards with a smash mouth type of offense when the Broncos decide to run the ball and blow past the likes of Virginia Tech in the 2010 opener. Suffice to say Boise State does not need the trick play to win games, but they sure are fun to watch when they catch the other team flat on their face.

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