Playing possum: Wildcats won’t lie down for Oregon … will they?by Anthony Gimino on Nov. 18, 2010, under Sports
The Arizona Wildcats practiced their leg cramps Wednesday. Grabbing at their hamstrings. Having the wind knocked out of them. Falling down for no apparent reason.
The secret is out. The way to stop Oregon’s fast-paced offense — a national-best 50.7 points per game — is to stop the game by faking injuries.
“I hope we can do a little bit of that ourselves,” said Arizona co-defensive coordinator Tim Kish.
Kidding. He was kidding.
The folks in Eugene are taking this very seriously — as they should — as the whole faking injury thing has been a trending topic after what Cal (allegedly) tried to pull last week. Opponents have been accused of playing possum all season, but none so brazenly as the Bears.
Cal nearly pulled off the upset, losing 15-13. There was a lot more to the close call than the Bears (allegedly) making their own timeouts — Kish said the Cal defensive line made great penetration — but the video evidence (see below) suggests that Bears defenders were not only playing with their hair on fire, they were playing with their pants on fire.
Arizona coach Mike Stoops, whose team plays at the top-ranked Ducks on Nov. 26, was asked about the subject on Tuesday’s Pac-10 coaches conference call with the media.
“I’ve never even seen it,” Stoops said of players slowing the game down by faking injuries, “so I wouldn’t really know what you’re talking about.”
In sports, you gotta do what you gotta do to win, but you would hope that your team wouldn’t resort to such a low-brow tactic.
“If it comes down to it, I think that’s what we might have to do,” said UA linebacker Derek Earls.
Kidding. He was kidding.
Perhaps the Bears weren’t last weekend.
A source within the Cal football program told the Oregonian newspaper that faking injuries was “a big part” of the plan against the Ducks, although the source said that not all the coaches were in favor of the tactic.
What’s a game official to do? Nothing, really. Officials have to give the benefit of the doubt to the potentially injured player.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly, on the Pac-10 conference call, said the strategy is basically for losers.
“You basically have thrown up a white flag and said you can’t play at our pace,” Kelly said. “Do you really want to say you can’t play at this level of football that we’re playing?”
Well, if you put it that way …
Of course, nobody is going to fess up to actually doing it (but you can watch the YouTube video of a Cal player and make up your own mind).
“I think we’re more worried about conditioning this week, trying to get ourselves ready for that fast tempo,” Arizona defensive end Ricky Elmore said. “I don’t think we’re going to fake injuries to slow them down.”
He was serious. We think.