BEN WALKER Associated Press GLENDALE, Ariz. -
The hook-and-ladder was great. The Statue of Liberty was tremendous. The flanker passes, onside kicks and fake field goal were beautiful. Just wondering: Are there any trick plays left this bowl season? Sure, says Florida. Plenty.
Wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius has one in mind - Special Trips Right Cougar Reverse Pass Left.
He even has someone in mind to make that end-around toss against No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS national championship game Monday night.
"Me," he said. "We all want to be the quarterback. We're always telling the coaches to put us in."
Not that the No. 2 Gators need much prompting to break out their gimmicks. Minus a go-to running back, but blessed with a lot of speed in the slots, they love to gamble with gadgets.
Plus, coach Urban Meyer warned, "We have had a lot of time to prepare."
"I would say they run more than anybody except Boise State," Buckeyes defensive back Brandon Mitchell said.
Ah, Boise State. On the same field where Ohio State and Florida meet, the Broncos put on one of the most entertaining performances in bowl history, beating Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime last Monday night in the Fiesta.
"They put on a clinic," Cornelius said. "I think my favorite was the last one, that Statue of Liberty. I wrote that down, so when I'm a high school coach, we're going to run that play."
Cornelius ran a fake punt for a key first down in the SEC championship game against Arkansas. Later that day, receiver Andre Caldwell threw a touchdown pass.
Those tricks seemed to start off a whole slew of bowl treats.
Georgia and Georgia Tech recovered surprise onside kicks. Louisville got a TD pass from a receiver in the Orange. LSU ran an option play off a fake field goal for a first down in the Sugar.
"If you looked across the land" lots of teams are trying new things, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
There might be a reason, too.
"Because almost everyone is coming out with a 'W,'" Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker said.
Well, most everyone. Notre Dame failed on a fake punt and Wake Forest got stuffed on a pair of reverses.
"In bowl games when there is so much time, I think most people would tend to go with what got you to the game," Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. "But there are always going to be some wrinkles, something a little bit different. And I think that's been reflective."
The Buckeyes pounded their way to a perfect 12-0 season and rarely reached into their bag of tricks. Yet there was that 38-yard TD pass that star flanker Ted Ginn Jr. threw on an end-around against Indiana.
"You know it's in there, and that it's a play designed for you," said tight end Rory Nichol, who caught Ginn's toss. "You're hoping they call it, but you're kind of shocked when they do."
Asked whether the Buckeyes had anything planned this time, Nichol gave a devilish smile and shrugged.
Ohio State came out with a five-wide look against Michigan, and Tressel has a way of opening up in big games. Bollman also said it's sometimes worth running something wild simply to loosen the defense.
The Buckeyes' defense has been real busy this week. They've simulated the hook-and-ladder in practice, along with other kookiness Florida might try.
"You try to anticipate what will be the new wrinkle. And that's the fun of it," Tressel said.
"I think you have to be aware of who is in the game at every position," he said. "You better know where 81 is and 5 is and 8 is and 42 is. You better know where all the guys are."
As defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said, "They do a lot of different things. They are very multiple."
"They do a lot of misdirection plays, a lot of option, a lot of reverse, a lot trick plays," he said.
The goal, Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said, is "making sure that we are getting the ball into our best playmakers' hands as much as possible."
For the Gators, that means the likes of Baker, Cornelius, Caldwell and speedy receiver Percy Harvin, more than quarterbacks Chris Leak and Tim Tebow or any of the running backs.
"We like to keep the defenses on edge by running those tricky little plays. Our entire offense is kind of tricky," Baker said.
Besides, they're fun to run. Baker recalled being in the huddle when Leak signaled for a double reverse against Kentucky.
"When Chris was calling it, we kind of looked around and started smiling," he said. "You go into a game with a certain number. Depending on how the game goes, maybe you bring out something like from the Tennessee game. Sometimes, you're like, 'Oh, how do I run that play?'"
That is, if the play even exists.
Baker said that during the game against Alabama, his teammates went to Meyer with an idea for a "bubble screen" - a play where a flanker catches a quick pass while the other receivers block for him.
"He just came over on the sideline and drew it up right there. There's not even a name for it," Baker said. "It worked both times. Getting 8 or 9 yards on a play you just made up, that's pretty good."