Roll the dice: A look at the gutsiest calls in the SEC since 1992
The SEC has seen its share of gutsy play calls through the years.
Here is a look back at some of the most dramatic payoffs since 1992, many of which were featured in Bleacher Report’s list of the 50 most gutsy play calls in college football history.
Les Miles and his fake field goals
A discussion of gutsy calls by SEC coaches is sure to bring mention of LSU coach Les Miles, who has earned the moniker “Mad Hatter” for his ability to pull out just the right play when his team needs it most. Miles has never been afraid to go outside the realm of conventional thinking with the game on the line.
In 2007, Miles was the talk of the college football world when he dialed up a fake field goal against South Carolina that required a no-look, over-the-shoulder toss from holder Matt Flynn to kicker Colt David, who raced to the end zone for a touchdown.
In 2010, Miles went back to the over-the-shoulder well once again on a game-winning drive against Florida. Instead of attempting a 53-yard field goal to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, Miles chose to run a fake that secured a first down and extended a drive that ended with a touchdown to win the game in Gainesville.
Florida’s fake punt in 2006 SEC Championship Game
Trailing Arkansas 21-17 late in the third quarter, Florida coach Urban Meyer made one of the gutsiest calls in league championship game history.
Facing fourth-and-10 on his own 15-yard line, Meyer called for a fake punt that required Gators punter Eric Wilbur to pitch the ball to Jemalle Cornelius, who rounded the corner to gain 17 yards to keep the Florida drive alive. It was the perfect play to change the momentum of a game that the Gators would ultimately go on to win 38-28.
Tennessee secures a BCS championship
Clinging to a five-point lead with just more than nine minutes remaining in the 1999 BCS title game, it would have been easy for Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer to play it safe on a third-and-9 from his own 21-yard-line.
Instead, Vols quarterback Tee Martin was instructed to drop back to pass, connecting with Peerless Price on a risky downfield throw. Price scampered down the sideline for a 79-yard touchdown that propelled the Vols to a 23-16 win over Florida State.
South Carolina turns momentum against Georgia with fake punt
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has been known to throw caution to the wind from time to time.
One of the gutsiest decisions of his career came in Athens in 2011 with his Gamecocks trailing Georgia late in the first half. With seven yards to gain for a first down from his own 32-yard-line, Spurrier called for a fake punt rush by defensive end Melvin Ingram.
The 276-pounder broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown run, putting the Gamecocks ahead 14-13 going into the half. The decision to go for that fake punt may have made the difference in what turned out to be a narrow 45-42 win for the Gamecocks.
LSU defies logic with pass to defeat Auburn
This article began with Les Miles and his play calls with the field goal unit on the field, so it is only fitting that it ends with a gutsy call to leave them off the field.
Trailing 24-23 in the final seconds of a 2007 contest with Auburn, Miles chose to forgo the chance to call his final timeout and send kick Colt David out to attempt a 40-yard field goal to win the game.
Instead, he called a pass play to the end zone that Demetrius Byrd caught with one second remaining. Though the Tigers were victorious as a result of the gutsy call by Miles, it is a play that still receives criticism for baffling clock management.