Trick plays are never easy to pull off. Opposing coaches of stout defenses in college football and the Southeastern Conference usually have some sort of answer for these fun and creative formations designed to catch defenders off-guard.
That isn’t always the case. Les Miles became the “Mad Hatter” at LSU because he executed so many fake field goals and punts. Steve Spurrier pulled a page from baseball’s playbook and debuted Florida’s hidden ball trick play. Even Georgia threw a wrench at their opponent with the “shoestring play.”
One of the more well-known trick plays is the “hidden human” trick play. Some teams call it hide-and-seek on the gridiron. Others, like the Auburn Tigers, call it “Woody.” Whatever it is, it seems to work perfectly every time a team runs it.
Auburn’s “Woody” Trick Play Against Texas A&M
The design was simple.
Gus Malzahn took the smallest player on his roster — 5-foot-9 wide receiver Ryan Davis — and had him squat down behind his behemoth offensive linemen when Auburn took on the Texas A&M Aggies in 2015 at Kyle Field in College Station.
Quarterback Jeremy Johnson candidly handed the ball off to the true freshman before faking a handoff to the right. The Aggies defenders never saw it coming, because well, they literally couldn’t.
Davis converted the 1st-and-25 with ease in the third quarter, officially going for 28 yards. The Tigers went on to score a Daniel Carlson field goal on the drive and never relinquished their lead, beating TAMU 26-10 and picking off Kyler Murray three times.
It wasn’t the first time Malzahn has called the trick play interestingly named after the Toy Story character.
He ran it successfully when he was on Arkansas’ staff for a 29-yard gain against Auburn in 2006. He also ran it during the 2010 SEC Championship game, when it only picked up about two yards.
“It’s a hit-and-miss deal,” Malzahn told AL.com in 2015. “If they don’t see him it’s going to be a big play. If they see him it’s minus-one. That’s just part of it. You know it when you call it.Advertisement
“When it works it’s a lot of fun.”
It sure as heck was. It nearly went for a touchdown, too.
NCAA coaches beware: Malzahn may have a Mr. Potato Head or a Buzz Lightyear play dialed up next.
This post was originally published on August 10, 2020.