Fake punts are perhaps the most audacious element of football strategy. To work, they require the team with the ball to almost completely fool the opposition, and then they need to be executed with little margin for error.
In the second quarter of BYU's game against Boise State on Thursday, the Cougars found themselves facing a fourth-and-19 from their own 5-yard line. You might think that's a pretty weird spot to try a fake punt, because 19 yards is quite a far distance and the 5-yard-line is sub-stellar field position.
But BYU tried one anyway, in a one-score game. Here's how that went:
Don't blame punter Jonny Linehan for what happened here. It's not his fault. It's actually cool he avoided a safety.
BYU coach Kalani Sitake would have looked like a bold, cunning trickster if this stunt had worked out as planned. The next time a coach tries something like this and it works, he'll be praised for it, and that's fine, because college football's a fickle game and all. Maybe Boise State would've bitten and not burst right through to swarm this poor punter.
But, goodness me, this thing is hideous. Get it out of my sight. This isn't as bad as Army's doomed fake try on fourth-and-44 last week, I don't think, but it's still many degrees of bad.
The wild thing about this tomfoolery? It didn't even hurt BYU. Boise State tackled Linehan at the 2 but backed up to the 17 on a personal foul. The Broncos stalled on offense, and then they couldn't hit the ensuing field goal.
Sometimes, ball does lie. This ball lied.