Jersey numbers help Cal complete fake punt against Ohio State

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday September 15, 2013


For the second time in three weeks, the Bears used special teams trickery.

Against Northwestern two weeks ago, it was a fake field goal for a touchdown. Late in the second quarterback against Ohio State, it was a completed pass on a fake punt — sort of.

As it turns out, quarterback Jared Goff and punter Cole Leininger both wear No. 16. Goff went back as the punter, but took the snap and completed a deep out for a first down. The drive would end with a field goal and a 31-20 Ohio State halftime lead.

Sonny Dykes wasn’t asked about the play after the game, but you have to wonder if it’s a play Dykes thought out far in advance or just noticed with the numbers. This wasn’t like Lane Kiffin having players change numbers on the sideline.

“I was expecting them to call it at some point in the game,” Goff said. “I practiced it twice this week. It worked out. Stefan (McClure) ran a great route and made a good play on it.”

The Buckeyes led 21-0 six minutes into the game, but it was back-and-forth from there on out. It got out of hand late, but the Bears actually outscored Ohio State 34-31 the rest of the way in the 52-34 defeat.

Using the game as a measuring stick against one of the nation’s top programs, Dykes had to take both positives and negatives from the loss, but the bottom line is that it was a loss.

“I don’t think we’re that far off,” he said. “We’re a very young team. Compare the rosters, in terms of starters. We had two seniors that started for us today. I think they had 14 or 15. That’s a big difference. We just have to grow up. We’ve got to get better and improve. That falls on us as coaches to coach better and bring our players along and make sure we’re putting them in good positions to be successful, scheme-wise. … I’m proud of our kids for fighting hard.

“I don’t believe in moral victories, but I thought our guys played hard. I thought they fought hard. I hate the whole moral victory thing. I think that’s one of the things we have to get out of our program, that feeling that, boy, we only lost by seven or we only lost by 10 and played hard. We played the game to win. It’s something we’ve got to learn how to do.”

You can watch the fake punt by clicking here. Below is Dykes’ press conference.

Chris Vannini is the managing editor of CoachingSearch.com. He spent the previous three years as a Coaching Insider for the site. Before joining Coaching Search, Chris covered college athletics for The Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247 Sports and SB Nation. A native of Metro Detroit, Chris still lives in the Motor City. Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and @CoachingBuzz on Twitter, and you can reach Chris at chris@coachingsearch.com.