The play-action pass, when used effectively, can be one of the most valuable offensive tools in all of football. Notice the phrase when used effectively!
I know a little bit about offense schemes, game plans, play design, and all things related to scoring points. I was a 3 year varsity starter in high school; had a few small college offers in football, but pursued baseball instead. Since college, I've coached football teams from peewee level, up to top ranked high school teams. I've never coached in college because I chose not too. Had I felt the passion to do so, I'm sure I could have, but I guess the world will never know.
That being said, I know a good bit about the play-action pass. Plain and simply put, it is a tool used to freeze linebackers and safeties by getting them to bite on a fake to a potential ball carrier. It works great when you use it sparingly, or at the right time. Hell you can even use it a lot if your running game is gashing the opponent on a consistent basis. The problem with UGA's system is that we use play-action pass on more than 90% of our passes, and even when the running game is a non-factor. It's as if we have certain plays that can only be run out of play-action. Why can't the same plays be executed with the quarterback doing a simple 5-step drop?
Thinking from a quarterback's perspective, I love to throw the ball on a straight 5 step drop. Why? When a quarterback doesn't have to worry about the fake, he gets to focus on the safeties and cornerbacks from the moment the ball is snapped. When faking, a quarterback has to take his eyes off the safeties for a moment, and then take to time to find them again after the fake. This may not seem all that difficult, but any quarterback will tell you it makes a world of difference to have to take your eyes off the secondary, and the look up and find the defenders again. Besides finding the secondary, it makes one hell of a difference when it comes to avoiding the rush. Think about it; wouldn't Aaron Murray have stood a better chance at avoiding Nick Fairley's body slams if he saw him coming a second sooner? Yep.
When I went back and watched the Auburn game a second time, I payed close attention to Fairley on every offensive snap. The kid was rarely, if ever, phased by a play-action fake, nor were the linebackers.
What are your thoughts?