April 6, 2010 • Football

Brian Kelly botched field goal turns into touchdown

Editor’s Note: Coach & Athletic Director interviewed Brian Kelly weeks prior to him taking the Notre Dame head-coaching job. At the time, Kelly was leading the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats and discussed how important it is to prepare your team for any situation.

Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly preaches the importance of special teams to his squad at all times. On Oct. 31, 2009, at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse, the Bearcats were tied with the Orange 7-7 in the second quarter.

Cincinnati lined up for a 32-yard field goal but the snap was low. Starting quarterback Zach Collaros, who was acting as the holder, picked up the bad snap, rolled to his right and found Kazeem Alli for an open touchdown when the Syracuse secondary froze. This wasn’t an act of luck, however, it was a testament to how prepared the Cincinnati team is in all aspects of the game.

“We work on point-after-touchdowns and field goals at three different segments for five minutes each during the week,” says Kelly. “The Fire Drill we run at practice had our players ready to make something of that play against Syracuse.”

In fact, the play worked so well, the television announcers were fooled and kept saying that the play was a “designed fake field goal.” It was only after the commercial break when they realized it was a broken play…run to perfection.

Here is how it broke down.

Brian Kelly Fire DrillDIAGRAM 1: Fire Play (A). The ball is snapped low, removing any chance for a kick. Collaros picks the ball up, then scrambles to his right. The kicker, Jake Rogers, cuts in front of Collaros and looks to make a block or get open down the field. Once the other Cincinnati players realize the Fire Play is on, the backside ends begin cutting across the field with Alli taking a track to get him just inside the end zone and Marcus Waugh running a bit deeper. The ball-side end, John Hughes, begins moving down the field after making his blocks.

Brian Kelly Fire Drill BDIAGRAM 2: Fire Play (B). The two interior defensive linemen on the ball side begin to chase Collaros, as does the Syracuse player from the weak side of the field who originally tried to block the kick. The safety also is in pursuit of Collaros but Rogers gets enough of a block on him to remove him from the play.

Collaros almost reaches the sideline, then shifts his momentum back to the left to bypass the pursuing three defenders. Collaros lofts the ball high and hits a wide-open Alli in the end zone as the backside defensive back didn’t hustle across the field to cover the moving receivers.

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