Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 70

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 70
By Gir Todafunk
Special to The Daily Magi
November 26, 2055

Hey everyone, happy Magia Day. I am Gir Todafunk, back with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. Well, I earned another player of the week honor, and it seems to me I will defend my Bednarik Award after all. Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe and Tatupu. Not too bad of a heist. I think it's a good heist, to be honest. Oh yes, and we are honoring D.W. Hinoi, Skyler Rankin and all the fourth-years on the football team! Congratulations to the fourth-years for getting this far! Hopefully we can carry them to the finish line.

I want to talk about bootleg plays in football. In American football, a bootleg play is a play in which the quarterback runs with the ball in the direction of either sideline behind the line of scrimmage. This can be accompanied by a play action, or fake hand off of the ball to a running back running the opposite direction.

The quarterback can be accompanied by an offensive lineman to block for him, or run without a blocker, which is known as a naked bootleg or waggle. More complex versions involve multiple offensive linemen moving with the quarterback to block and multiple false hand offs; one such variation is known as a rollout. After escaping the area behind the offensive line, the quarterback may either throw a pass downfield or run with the ball himself to gain yardage. A bootleg is called to confuse the defense, by moving the quarterback away from where they expect him to be, directly behind the center. The quarterback's motion may also attract the attention of the defensive backs, allowing one of the receivers to become uncovered. The play is typically used by teams with mobile quarterbacks, such as Steve Young, Randall Cunningham, and Ben Roethlisberger.

Additional variations can be combined with bootleg plays. In the West Coast offense variant designed around quarterback Michael Vick, counter techniques combined with play action bootleg plays served to provide several types of simultaneous misdirection which caused defensive players to freeze after often misjudging the intended direction of the play. These techniques, along with Michael Vick's unusual athleticism, slow down and isolate defenders and provide extra space and time for the quarterback to survey the field and/or run the ball.

The bootleg and its variants have become more common in recent years as the rules have been changed to permit a quarterback to avoid a sack by throwing the ball away once he is outside the "tackle box". Since the quarterback in a bootleg usually sets up to throw well outside the tackles, if he is in danger of taking a sack he can throw the ball safely out of bounds without risking an intentional grounding penalty.

The name comes from the fact that on a play action the quarterback often hides the ball from the defense by his thigh to make the run look more convincing. This is similar to the way bootleggers would hide whiskey in their trousers during Prohibition. Frankie Albert, an All-American quarterback at Stanford University, is given credit for inventing the bootleg play in 1940.

Be sure to look forward to the next weekly column, where I talk about even more football terminology. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

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