Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy sparked some curiosity when he commented on his team's Sugar Bowl game plan on Monday:
Cowboys (Castleman) were fun last year in bowl, Gundy suggests more fun could be on the way.— John Helsley (@jjhelsley) December 21, 2015
What could this mean? Will they fill the playbook with new gadgets? Will we finally see a two-quarterback formation? Is he just toying with the media to throw off the opponent? Who knows? But history would indicate that he is telling the truth, and the Cowboys will show some things that they've never shown before.
This is nothing new for Oklahoma State. In recent history, they've unveiled a number of gadgets in the postseason to give them a leg-up on the opponent. Some of them worked and some of them didn't, but they're all fun to look at. In today's Chalk Talk, we will look at three of the most memorable examples of bowl game trickeration in recent OSU memory.
2010 Cotton Bowl
Back in the pre-Holgorsen era when Coach Gundy was still calling plays, OSU used a unique gadget play to score their first and only touchdown in the 2010 Cotton Bowl against Ole Miss.
The Cowboys found themselves in a first-and-goal in the middle of the third quarter, needing a touchdown to tie the score at seven. On first down, the Pokes trotted with Keith Toston lined up behind center and quarterback Zac Robinson out wide; Toston took the direct snap up the middle for a gain of a couple.
After an unsuccessful second down play, the Cowboys came out in a similar formation on third-and-goal, again with Toston behind center. This time, though, Toston faked the run and completed a beautiful jump pass to tight end Wilson Youman.
This play was beautifully designed by Coach Gundy and the OSU Coaching staff. It was also cleverly set up by the first play of Toston taking the direct snap.
Toston's Tebow-esque jump pass was the only offensive highlight in what was a dismal day for the Cowboys, but it's still a highlight that many Cowboy fans will always remember.
2012 Heart of Dallas Bowl
In Todd Monken's final season as OSU's offensive coordinator, he went, as some would say, 'balls to the wall'. He would mix in a handful of trick plays into every game plan, and he did it effectively. Following his departure before the bowl game, the Cowboy coaching staff called the game just like Monken would have, calling many trick plays even when the game was in the bag. The most unique gadget in the 2012 Heart of Dallas Bowl was a standard version of the play "fight song", an A-11 offense staple that tries to deceive the defense to who is eligible and who is not.
Notice how the Cowboys align a tackle on the right side as a decoy. Because he is "covered up" by the outside receiver, who is also on the line of scrimmage, that tackle is ineligible. He is merely placed there to distract the defense from the play's true primary target. The target here is the tight end, Blake Jackson, aligned at left tackle. By rule, Jackson is now eligible with the tackle's ineligibility, so Jackson slips through the middle of the field from where a tackle would usually be. While Jackson didn't catch it (surprise, surprise), it still drew a pass interference call and resulted in a first down.
As mentioned before, this was not the only trick play that the coaching staff called. Even when the Cowboys had a comfortable lead, they pulled out gadget after gadget.
He called plays like this:
And this on a fourth-and-one:
Wait a second, that play looks awfully familiar.
2015 Cactus Bowl
Oh yeah, that's right.
Is there anything else to say here?
In addition to that beauty, the Cowboys mixed up the game plan with plays like this gem, where they placed defensive tackle James Castleman (who caught the pass in the gif above) under center and direct snapped it to him.
And don't forget everyone's favorite -- the quarterback throwback:
This play has a high success rate, and when set up correctly, it can really ignite a drive or take it the distance for an easy score. If the Cowboys don't use this at least once with J.W. Walsh, they're doing it wrong.
Anyway, the point here is that trick plays and new wrinkles can make a monumental difference in any game, especially against an out-matched opponent. Remember, talent is fine, but talent and creativity is better. So with that said, let's hope that the Cowboys mix the game plan up a bit in the upcoming Sugar Bowl. From what we've seen in the past, we shouldn't expect anything less.