TCU’s Gutsy 2-Point Conversion: The Play of the Week

Justin K. Aller

Wanting to control their own destiny, the TCU Horned Frogs opted to go for two and attempt to win the game on the road rather than let the game play out in a third overtime. Gutsy play-calling, combined with great execution, led to the play of the week.

There are few things more entertaining in sports than when a college football game heads into overtime. With possessions starting at the 25-yard line, chances of scoring becomes very likely and coaching strategy takes on a life of its own as each team is guaranteed an equal amount of possessions. As most fans know, being able to play defense first is a huge advantage because that team’s offense will then know whether need to score a touchdown or simply kick a field goal to win/tie the game.

With that being the case, in the first and second overtimes, stakes change a bit if the game makes it to a third overtime. During the third overtime (and any subsequent overtimes), offenses are forced to go for a two-point conversion should they score a touchdown.

In last week’s TCU-West Virginia game, the contest went to a second overtime. West Virginia scored on the first possession of the period and kicked an extra point to take a 38-31 lead. On the Horned Frogs' ensuing possession, they also scored but were left with a dilemma: Should they kick the extra point and potentially give West Virginia the advantage of having the ball last in a third overtime, or should they simply go for a two-point conversion and attempt to win the game right away?

Through TCU’s eyes, it made sense to go for the two-point conversion right away. The way TCU (likely) looked at it, if the game were to go into a third overtime and the Horned Frogs were able to score a touchdown, then TCU would be forced to go for a 2-point conversion anyway. With that being the case, why not simply go for the win while they still held the advantage of posing the ball last?

As you can see in the video clip below, the decision to go for the win paid off for the Horned Frogs.

The beauty of this two-point conversion was its simplicity. First off, TCU did not let the rules dictate when they had to go for two, but instead did it on their own accord so West Virginia would not have an opportunity to answer. Second, the previous play that resulted in a touchdown was a trick play. TCU successfully executed a reverse pass thrown by the wide receiver to a tight end, delayed in releasing, for a 25-yard touchdown. Following the trickery on the previous play, West Virginia may have been expecting something similar on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.

As you can see, there was absolutely nothing tricky about TCU’s successful two-point attempt. After tricking the West Virginia defense on the previous play, TCU came back with an overwhelmingly straightforward play-call for the win. It was as if TCU coaches said, "We just tricked you, now we’re simply going to out-execute you!" It worked.

The video shows one of the simplest football plays ever. TCU opted to run a one-man pass pattern with the quarterback on a slight rollout towards the receiver. Even though the cornerback initially has outside leverage, the wide receiver stemmed wide and became head up on the defender before simply running a traditional out cut. TCU kept nine guys in the offensive box and believed that their quarterback and wide receiver would execute the play to win the game - and they did. Decent pass, good catch, great win.

The momentum of such a play cannot be understated. As TCU welcomes an undefeated Kansas State squad (and its nicked-up quarterback, Collin Klein) to Fort Worth this week, it will be interesting to see if the momentum created by the great road victory will carry over into this week’s contest. If TCU is to have any chance against the amazingly well-coached Wildcats, it will have to successfully execute gutsy similar play calls once again. Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming big game, last week’s decision and execution on this 2-point conversion was the call/play of the week.

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