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Individual Play Analysis: Fake Field Goal

In this week's individual play analysis, we'll be looking at the fake field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter.

The situation is this: It's fourth down and four from the Ole Miss nine yard line. We lead 27-24, and there are just over three minutes to play in the contest. After trailing 24-17, our defense has completely shut down the Ole Miss offense, and now we are in control.

The first decision regards what to do: Do you kick the field goal, fake the field goal, or just go for the first down with your offensive unit?

Going for the first down might appease some, but it's likely not the best strategy. Fourth and four is not a down you want to run on (very small chance you are going to pick that up), and throwing the football, too, will be difficult in the compacted space that far into the Ole Miss red zone. All in all, that's not too attractive of an option.

You could kick the field goal, but at the same time a field goal really does you very little good here. Ole Miss has enough time to either go for the touchdown or the field goal, and it's likely that they will play for whatever they need based off of what you do. If they need six, they'll go for the game-winning touchdown, but if they only need three, they are likely to be more conservative and play for the game-tying field goal. Moreover, a field goal is far from a sure thing, especially considering that your kicker missed a chip-shot field goal (twice) to end the first half.

So, considering all of the above, we decide to go for the fake field goal which would win us the game.

We come out in the traditional field goal formation, nothing special. Ole Miss responds with an altered look in which eight players are rushing the kick in an attempt for the block, but the Rebels realize that a field goal doesn't really hurt them at the moment, so they keep three players back in zone to prevent against the fake.

The following is a diagram of the pre-snap formation. Click for the full-size version.

So, the fake is on. Here we go.

The following is a diagram of the play itself. Click for the full-size version.

As you can see -- and as we all know by now -- it's a designed run by P.J. Fitzgerald. However, if you look closely, Ole Miss has seven players committed to the right side of the formation (the general direction of where the kick must go, considering it's coming from the left hash). Five are trying to block the kick, while two are playing zone.

But the run by Fitzgerald, of course, goes left. As a result, though Ole Miss' coaches obviously had a good idea that the fake was coming, Saban and co. still out-smarted them by sending the play the opposite direction of where the majority of the Ole Miss kick block team is standing. Saban and co. have Fitzgerald run left on the fake, where the Rebels only have four players on that side of the field.

The long snapper and the right side of the line all slide right to make their blocks. They don't really have to block anyone, just impede their progress long enough to make sure that they cannot tackle Fitzgerald from the backside, and they do that exactly as needed.

So with the right side of the Ole Miss kick block team (seven players) neutralized, it all comes down to the left side, where 'Bama has four players on Ole Miss' four players.

To begin with, the end man on the line of scrimmage for Ole Miss, as expected, rushes in to block the kick, and when Fitzgerald pulls up to run, he's out of position to make the tackle and Fitzgerald runs right by him.

As a result, what we have is four Alabama blockers on three Ole Miss defenders. We have numbers, this is an easy touchdown.

Rolando McClain (25) does his job. He drive blocks the Ole Miss player (DL) with extreme aggression, and drives him to the boundary. McClain annihilates the Rebel defender in Andre Smith style.

Make that three Alabama blockers on two Ole Miss defenders.

Mike Johnson (78) quickly slipped out to the second level to take on the Ole Miss defensive back. He's going to have trouble blocking a much smaller player, but he does get a piece of him. To help him out, Baron Huber (40) moves out to the second level and finishes off the Ole Miss defensive back.

Make that one Alabama blocker on one Ole Miss defender.

It's Marlon Davis (76) on Lawson Scott (96), a freshman defensive tackle for Ole Miss. Initially as the ball is snapped, Scott shoots inside in an attempt to block the kick. And at this point, Marlon Davis has him right where he wants him. All he has to do is move upfield with his left foot, establish leverage, and seal off the outside to Scott. It's basically, as a lineman, about as easy of a block as you'll ever get.

But Davis, inexplicably, blows it. He doesn't establish outside leverage on Scott, and the freshman defensive tackle moves back to the offensive left, shooting by Davis, and makes the tackle of Fitzgerald.

With the Tide stopped, Ole Miss Head Buffoon Ed Orgeron starts pointing and shouting towards the Alabama sideline, apparently yelling to get across the fact that he knew the fake was coming. I don't know why he was yelling, considering even though he was smart enough to know what was coming, he was still dumb enough to get out-coached by his crimson-clad counterpart.

If Davis can make a very easy block, P.J. Fitzgerald waltzes into the end zone and we seize a 34-24 lead with just three minutes to play. It was a perfect play design by Saban and company, and one that should be easily executed. Ten men do their job perfectly, but that's not enough in football. Marlon Davis whiffs on an easy block, and that ends with Fitzgerald crashing to the turf short of the first down, much less the first down.

The Rebels regain the ball, and then the real excitement, and controversy, begins.