Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson explains his team's fake punt during the 40-21 loss to Miami in which player Booker Mays "played dead" and fell to the ground. It's called the "Fainting Goat."
By now you've surely seen the Arkansas State fake punt once or at least 100 times. That's the power of the world we live in today. And it's worth another 100 views, if not more. There's so much to dissect in the play even without the guy at the bottom of the screen doing something straight out of a pee-wee league. You don't notice it at first, but once you see it, you can't see anything else. There's Booker Mays, grabbing his chest and falling to the ground, playing dead.
Mays didn't get an Oscar for his theatrics. Instead he got blown up after he broke character.
How did this happen? Was this the design all along? Where did the team come up with the idea? SI.com had a chance to talk to Red Wolves coach Blake Anderson to get the story.
SI: Just how did this happen? What went right? What went wrong?
Blake Anderson: The throw and catch on the opposite side of the field didn't work properly. We faked a punt the week before against Tennessee and hit it. We had a really good look at one against Miami. They lined up exactly the way we wanted, and we ran the fake we wanted. We just underthrew the ball and their linebacker made the right play. Exactly what we wanted to happen with Booker was what we wanted him to do. We were lined up in a formation where he was ineligible to go downfield. It was a tackle-over formation, so we couldn't send him downfield. We had to decide what we wanted to do with him. We thought we'd have a little fun, so we used what we call "The Fainting Goat Technique."
SI: The Fainting Goat Technique?
BA: The Fainting Goat Technique. I don't know if you remember a couple years ago we posted a video at North Carolina where we played a prank on Bryn Renner, our starting quarterback, in practice on Thursday called "The Fainting Goat Play," where when we snapped the ball everybody on the field just fell over dead except for Bryn. It got about a million views on YouTube. We thought we would bring that back.
Luke Paschall is my special teams coordinator, and he's like "Well, what do you think? How about we just have him do the Fainting Goat when the snap starts instead of just standing there? We might as well have him do something." I said it sounds good. The kids will have a good time with it, and it might raise a few eyebrows on the defensive side. They might not know what to think of it. We showed Booker the video. He worked on it all week. We had a great time getting ready for it. That particular technique worked fine. We just did a poor job on the other side. We had a guy open, but we underthrew it and it got picked off.
SI: Was anybody on the team jealous they weren't the ones who got to do it?
BA: A couple guys during the week, they were talking about how they could do a better job. Booker Mays is a kid who, all the guys on the team love him to death. He's got a great personality and a great sense of humor. Every day when we practiced it during the week it got better and better. He went all out on Saturday. He just went full on, completely stiff and laid out. Had the play worked it would've been a lot more fun obviously. But that particular technique had nothing to do with whether the play worked or not. It was strictly just for fun. We're willing to laugh at ourselves and have a good time. We do a lot of crazy stuff. We're just trying to keep the kids' energy up and smiling and laughing. It was a great way to have fun all week. He did a good job with it.
SI: Did anybody from Miami's coaching staff mention it to you after the game?
BA: A good friend of mine, [linebackers coach] Hurlie Brown, is one of their defensive coaches. I talked to him yesterday. He had a chuckle about it. They didn't notice it at the time, and we didn't really talk about it afterward. Obviously that was the least of my worries after the game since we didn't play like we wanted to. But we talked yesterday and had a laugh. We were together at [Louisiana] Lafayette on staff years ago. It got the response we wanted. People have seen it and had a chuckle over it. Had the play worked, it would've been a lot easier to have more fun with it. But when you lose a game, there's not a whole lot of moral victories to come away with.
SI: Has that been your approach since coming in to Arkansas State -- to have some fun while you're trying to win football games?
BA: No doubt. We want to win. We want to be competitive. But we talk about faith, family and fun a lot. They've been through a lot. They've been through five head coaches. Some of these guys have been through four, five or six position coaches, so we have to create an environment to give back to the kids. But we're going to be competitive. If that technique would have had anything to do with the success or failure of the play, then we wouldn't have done it. That was a guy who had virtually no job on the play, so it was a great opportunity to have some fun with it.
SI: Should we be keeping an eye out for more tricks?
BA: Oh, absolutely. We did trick plays two out of the last three weeks. We did a surprise onside. We did a fake punt on Tennessee. We're going to keep people on their toes. We're going to be aggressive. There might be another Fainting Goat Technique somewhere down the road or something similar. We work too hard not to have a good time with it. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we're in the wrong profession.