BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State appears to be up to its old tricks.
After playing it straight early in the season, the No. 3 Broncos are once again digging deep into the chapter of the playbook devoted to tricks, fakes and other deceptive shenanigans.
Against Toledo on Saturday, Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore tossed the ball to wide receiver Chris Potter, who then lofted a 26-yard pass down the left sideline to tailback Doug Martin, setting up the Broncos first-and-goal at the four.
In the second quarter, Broncos nearly pulled off another fake punt when Kyle Brotzman flicked a shovel pass to Tyler Shoemaker who caught the Rockets flat-footed and ran 59 yards. But the big play was wiped out by a holding penalty.
In beating Oregon State two weeks ago, receiver Austin Pettis took a handoff on what looked to be a reverse, only to pull up and fire a 5-yard TD pass to a wide open Tommy Gallarda in the corner of the end zone.
Coach Chris Petersen has developed a knack for catching opponents flat-footed. In his 4 1/2 years at the helm in Boise he has compiled a highlight reel full of big plays built around fakes and gadgets that have duped defenses and changed the outcome of games.
"Usually it's something different that a team hasn't seen or hasn't seen for a while, maybe from us, that we think have a chance to work and be an explosive play," Petersen said. "That's really the thought behind it, no more or no less than that."
But there is so much more that goes into making those high-risk plays pay off.
There are the hours spent by Bronco coaches studying film and identifying weakness in opposing defenses and special teams. Each week, Petersen and his staff design a handful of new plays or tweak those they've run before for the team to perfect in practice.
Having a keen sense of the moment in a game and understanding field position are critical. So, too, is trusting his own instincts, knowing when to roll the dice on a play that can carry a big price if it backfires.
Petersen says he relies on the savvy of a few key players on offense and special teams who know when to change up if the defensive alignment reduces the chances of the trick play working.
Nevertheless, Petersen and his players relish the element of surprise and reaping the positive results. And he's proven unafraid at reaching into his bag of tricks, even when the stakes are high.
Two of his most memorable calls were pivotal in Boise State's Fiesta Bowl victories. Against Oklahoma in 2007, Petersen dusted off the old Statue of Liberty play on a 2-point conversion in overtime that gave the Broncos a 43-42 win over Oklahoma.
In last year's game against TCU, the Broncos lined up to punt on a fourth-and-9 at their own 33. But Brotzman pulled up again and fired a 33-yard pass to tight end Kyle Efaw, extending what proved to be the game-winning touchdown drive in a 17-10 victory.
"If we see something on tape, and if we think it's going to fit and work, then we'll go in that direction," Petersen said. "But usually when you put the ball in someone else's hands who's not used to throwing it or running it, or if there's a little bit of deception involved, those things add up to why we like them."
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