Have you ever heard of the football trick play called the statue of liberty? This play was made famous in the 2007 Fiesta bowl when the Boise State Broncos were able to utilize this play to win the game on a two-point conversion.
The play in question can be seen here:
A statue of liberty play works like this, first, the ball will be snapped to the quarterback who sits in the backfield with himself and a running back.
The offensive line will start the statue of liberty play in pass protection. At this point, the quarterback will start his reads and will look at one of his receivers.
In the example above, the receiver that the quarterback looks at is running a screen play. This sort of diversion works great as it will require multiple defenders to rush over to beat the screen plays blockers.
At this point, the quarterback will fake a throw towards the receiver he has been staring down. To fake this throw the quarterback will first grab the ball with two hands off the snap.
He will then transition the ball into his left hand. As he brings up his right hand to fake the throw he will move the ball behind his back in his left hand and hold it there.
The running back will have move slightly towards the side of the field that the quarterback is pretending to throw to.
This should result in the running back being lined up to the right side of the quarterback. As the quarterback fakes the throw the running back will duck under the throwing arm and began rushing in the opposite direction of the throw.
The running back will then take the ball from the quarterback who is holding the ball behind his back in his left hand. This means the handoff will take place behind the quarterbacks back.
As this handoff occurs one of the guards will pull from the middle of the formation and move towards the left side of the field. This pulling guard will act as the lead blocker for the ball carrier.
Since the defense is going to be focused on the fake pass to the right side of the field the left side is going to be left wide open.
It is important to know the statue of liberty play is a often a last ditch effort similar to long hail mary passes.
Why Does The Statue Of Liberty Work?
The reason that the statue of liberty trick play works is because of all the misdirection involved in the play.
When the play starts the first few seconds are going to look like a passing play. This is going to confuse the defense and have defenders focusing on their pass game responsibilities as opposed to their run game responsibilities.
Secondly the misdirection of location. One of the key points of the statue of liberty is that it confuses the defense as to where the ball is going. By faking a pass to the right you are going to pull a large number of defenders in that direction.
This is similar to a play action passing play except the statue of liberty fakes the pass instead of faking the run.
In the example shown above, a screen pass is used as this requires multiple defenders to bring down the ball carrier. This sort of misdirection leads to much more open room for the running back when he gets the ball.
The last portion of the statue of liberty that makes it successful is the handoff. The speed with which the quarterback fakes a throw and hands it off in the opposite direction is incredibly fast.
It can only be done at this speed when the quarterback is doing these actions simultaneously, each with one hand.
Additionally, the handing off of the ball behind the back makes it nearly impossible for the defense to see the ball change hands. After seeing an empty hand fake a throw these players will be confused as to where the ball is at all.