There is something majestic about a well-executed fake punt. This is a story about a fake punt that did not work in any way, shape, or form, but good lord, is it majestic, anyway.
Arkansas is playing host to 11th-ranked Auburn on Saturday afternoon. The game is expected to be a blowout — Vegas had the Tigers as a 20-point road favorite — and as such, the Razorbacks had zero reservations about turning to the back page of the playbook and busting out something funky. The issue was that said funky play completely failed, in part because it required a punter throwing a pass on a 4th-and-11 from deep in their territory.
Sam Loy, Arkansas’ punter, took a snap and tried to chuck it. It went poorly. Please watch it a few times.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 19, 2019
Off the top of my head, here are some issues I have with this. First and foremost, a punter’s strength is their ability to kick a football, not throw it. Not only did he throw it poorly, my dude threw a chest pass like there is five figures on the line, courtesy of Dr. Pepper at a conference title game. He did an awful job leading his receiver, instead overthrowing him and letting it fall softly into the arm of Auburn’s Chandler Wooten. If you are going to throw the football there, why would you do…whatever this is.
Beyond that, this play took place on 4th-and-11 on their side of the field. The ball was on Arkansas’ 41, and thanks to the way punts happen, Loy lined up 15(!!!) yards behind the line of scrimmage. From where he was standing, the Razorbacks had to gain 26 yards if they wanted to pick up a first down. Even if Wooten did not sniff this out immediately, that’s incredibly difficult — would you, humble football fan, want your team to have to have the ball travel 26 yards from where the snap is received on a fourth down in your own territory? The answer is no, unless you were a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.
Fake punts have the potential, if well-executed, to be a legitimate game changer, a testament to a football team’s practice habits, ability to notice something exploitable on film, and execution. More often than not, though, that doesn’t happen. Even by that standard, this fake punt deserve the same classification of horrible, horrible ideas as that time the Colts did whatever the hell this was and the absolute nightmare we saw out of the Broncos earlier this week.