Is This the Weirdest College Football Play You’ve Ever Seen?

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In the second quarter of an eventual 41-20 loss at Miami (FL), Arkansas State attempted a fake punt from the Hurricanes’ 40-yard line. Red Wolves punter Luke Ferguson threw the ball 20-some yards downfield and had his pass intercepted by Miami’s Raphael Kirby.

All of that sounds very routine.

In actuality, it was anything but. The Red Wolves’ fake punt play included a wide receiver on the other side of the formation, Booker Mays, who slowly fell backward for no apparent reason as the ball was snapped. Call it a trustfall…call it playing dead…call it whatever you want, but ASU’s disturbing creative play call will go down as one of the weirdest things we’ve ever seen happen on a football field.

At least in other sports (like soccer and basketball, for instance), when a player takes a dive, they’re trying to get a foul called on the other team. In other words, there’s — at bare minimum — an opponent in the same zip code. Not so for Arkansas State. Mays simply took a step backward, put his hands over his chest, and calmly collapsed onto the field with no one nearby. Mays was rewarded for his troubles by a vicious hit from Hurricanes LB Thurston Armbrister as soon as he attempted to resurrect himself and get back into the play.

You could be forgiven for thinking this play couldn’t get any weirder, but a story from NFL.com‘s Chase Goodbread today explained the origin of the ‘fall-down-and-pretend-you’ve died’ play the Red Wolves were attempting. Goodbread said that Arkansas State had practiced the play repeatedly in preparation for the trip to Miami, and Mays got more convincing with his collapse as the week went on. Apparently, the inspiration for the fake punt design came from a prank at a 2013 North Carolina practice — ASU head coach Blake Anderson was on the UNC staff then — where nearly all of the players on the field fell over to resemble ‘fainting goats.’ Yes, you read that correctly — it says ‘fainting goats.’

“Because of the formation, Booker was covered up and couldn’t go downfield, or it would be a penalty,” Anderson told Goodbread of the ill-fated fake punt. “So we said, ‘What do we want to do with him?’…Someone said let’s just let him be a fainting goat. I loved it, so we just put that in.”

So, let’s see if we’ve got this straight. A Red Wolves player pretends to collapse on the field during an unsuccessful trick play against the Hurricanes because of a Tar Heels prank modeled after a fainting goat. Clear as mud, right?

Let this serve as a warning to defensive coordinators everywhere — once you’ve prepared for the shotgun, the read-option, the I-formation, the spread, and even semi-normal trick plays like the fumblerooski…make sure you remember to take some time in practice to teach your players how to handle the infamous ‘fainting goat.’

More from Sports Cheat Sheet: