Faking it

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Coaches are so touchy about their offenses--especially the ones that are offensive-minded.

That high-octane, hurry-up spread attack, that's their baby. They created it, crafted it, nursed it and perfected it. So, when someone knocks that unstoppable train off of the tracks, they act like someone just bullied their child on the playground.

Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian joined the ranks of the outraged offensive geniuses last week when he accused Stanford of faking injuries during the Huskies' 31-28 loss

That's nothing new. Any time a defender goes down against these hurry-up offenses, the home crowd instantly erupts into boos, and the coaches automatically assume it's just an act to slow down the pace of the game.

Well, Stanford head coach David Shaw was quite aggravated by Sarkisian's accusations.

Shaw said, "We don't fake injuries. We never have, and we never will. And I don't care what Steve Sarkisian thinks he saw."

He went even further, saying, "We've never done it. We didn't do it against Oregon, so why in the world would we do it against Washington?"

Sarkisian has accused Stanford defensive coordinator Randy Hart of telling his players to fake injuries during key moments in the game.

That propelled Shaw to land a huge verbal haymaker. He said, "The only D-line coach that I know of that's ever instructed players to fake an injury works at the University of Washington, not at Stanford."

Shaw is referring to Husky defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi--who was California's defensive line coach in 2010 when he openly admitted after a game against Oregon that he had his players fake injuries. He was promptly suspended for one week.

So, there it is. The cat has been out of the bag for three years now; defenses sometimes fake injuries to slow down these no-huddle offenses.

But here's the thing. You can't accuse them of doing so because you never know what is real and what is fake. It's wrong to even try and be the judge of such a thing.

Case in point, two of the Stanford players Washington accused of faking injuries--Ben Gardner and Shane Skov--were still hampered by their genuine injuries the week after the game. In fact, Skov had to take an MRI after the game and missed practice time.

And even if the defenders are pulling a Daniel Day-Lewis and embellishing the injuries, I don't have a problem with it. Offenses already have so many advantages. Why not let the defense have one here and there?

These hurry-up, no-huddle attacks are brutal on defenses; you could even argue that they are unfair in some instances.

Because of so little time between snaps, defenders are routinely forced to be on the field for at least 80 plays a game. Sometimes, they're out there for up to 100 snaps. That's torture for a defensive lineman.

Forget the physicality of it all. It also turns out to be a big advantage for offenses strategically. Because of the pace, defenses are not allowed to change formations and get the personnel they want on the field.

Unless the offense substitutes, they are not able to sub in players. If they try, they most likely fall victim to illegal substitution penalties.

Therefore, I don't blame the defenses at all for faking injuries. Sometimes, it's really the only option they have to change up the look.

They surely can't waste timeouts doing so; you have to guard those things with your life. To me, it just levels the playing field.

If these high-octane offenses have a problem with it, they should just change their offensive philosophy. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that over the last 50 years, teams have been able to put up a lot of points without having to run a play every 15 seconds.