Our story begins with this, a screen cap of the setup of Auburn's final play of the BCS Championship against Florida State, when the Tigers were hoping for one more last-second miracle.
Auburn had a blocking advantage on the final play of the game. Runner foolishly cut back toward the defenders http://t.co/2rb4NZZK5i— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 7, 2014
Looks pretty good, huh? After Auburn ran a hook-and-lateral, then lateraled it back, then threw across the field -- we can call this some sort of hook-and-lateral/Music City Miracle combination -- Heisman finalist running back Tre Mason had a lot of green in front of him and a lot of large men in white in front of him.
Perhaps because at this point the play looks similar to Auburn's Kick Six touchdown in the Iron Bowl, the image caught on and spread around the internet.
If Mason had stayed on sideline, we could be talking about greatest play in CFB history today… pic.twitter.com/U1zjoVlV8P— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) January 7, 2014
But a wise man once said, "That [trick play] they had … Whew. Looked pretty good for a while."
And that's what we have here. We have a context-free screen cap of Mason 85 yards from the end zone, with Florida State in prevent coverage. It's not exactly fitting for analysis.
So what happened next? Well, Florida State actually had things covered well. Add that to the fact that Auburn's play call and setup were nice, but its execution fell apart.
To the All-22!
We can see that wall of linemen in front of Mason stalling and looking around. They wouldn't have been of a whole lot of use for him against the Seminoles who were swarming toward the ball.
Let's also note that Mason, perhaps the country's best running back, is not as blazing fast as the Kick Six's Chris Davis.
And when we pull it in tight:
Mason -- the running back who scampered for 195 rushing yards against Florida State -- cut back because he had to. He was cut off by All-America defender Lamarcus Joyner, who blew through that impenetrable convoy of linemen. In fact, none of those linemen really did all that much on the play. One kinda got in the way, and that was about it.
Add all of that to the fact that Mason, while still trying to setup his blocks, was caught from behind. Or that, had Mason somehow gotten through all of this, Florida State still had men near the goal line, and those big blockers weren't going to be running 85 yards at the same speed as Mason.
In the end, Mason tried to make a play. And while he's a hell of a running back, he would've had to make numerous plays to find the end zone. Maybe it could've happened, because Auburn and Kick Six and Hail Mary and Team of Destiny and #blessed. But this wasn't a case of cutting it back destroying the play. The play, while well-designed, was a long-shot anyway.
That and FSU had it covered quite well the whole time.