Tricks of the trade

By Gus Bode

When Boise State’s football team converted on a hook-and-ladder, a touchdown pass from a wide receiver and its own version of the Statue of Liberty play on its way to a shocking overtime Fiesta Bowl victory against favored Oklahoma in January, hope was given to underdogs throughout the nation.

The SIU football coaches were paying attention as well.

Head coach Jerry Kill said his offensive staff visited Boise State University in May to meet with coaches and figure out how the Broncos pulled off such a dramatic victory.

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Boise State capped a perfect 13-0 season with the 43-42 victory over Oklahoma and earned a share of the BCS national title in the minds of some experts, something unheard of for a team residing in a mid-major conference like the Western Athletic Conference.

“They certainly don’t have the athletes that Oklahoma University had, but they beat them,” Kill said. “How’d they do that? So we just look for things that we can get from them.”

Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said his staff focused mainly on the ability of Boise State to confuse defenses with constant shifts and changing looks in pre-snap formations.

“We want to find different ways to get into some different formations and do some different things prior to the snap of the football – basically make the defense work a little bit harder, create a little bit of confusion within the defense and still be where we need to be at the snap of the football,” Limegrover said.

Limegrover said Boise State does just about as good of a job as anybody in keeping the opposition on its toes by “window-dressing” plays that may look the same as one previously ran or seen in film viewings, but is actually a different scheme altogether.

“That’s really been something that they have made their identity – to do different things like that and to do it well – so we figured as with anything if we were going to go visit somebody we wanted to visit someone who a lot of people considered the best at doing it,” Limegrover said.

Limegrover said the ideas he and the SIU coaching staff picked up have already been implemented into the system, and the offensive players have been working on disguising their movements since camp began this summer.

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“Kids have had some fun with it and done a good job with it,” Limegrover said. “It still allows us to be fairly simple once the ball is snapped, but create hopefully some confusion and some chaos for the defense.”

Senior quarterback Nick Hill said the tips have been rewarding to work into his game and he thinks they will pay off.

“After a full game of shifting and motioning and stuff, it’s going to take a toll on that defense because they’ve always got to be thinking,” Hill said. “It might not mess them up every play, but one or two plays they might back down and you’ve got to take advantage of it.”

Hill said Boise State’s success also serves as an inspiration to SIU, a team he sees as being in a somewhat similar position.

“Just watching the way they did it over the years, they were kind of knocking on the door, knocking on the door, and then last year they took off, and that’s what we’re looking to do,” Hill said. “We’ve been there knocking on the door, and it’s time for us to take off.”

Sean McGahan can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected]

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