After the Tar Heel’s scored their first touchdown last Saturday against MTSU, UNC fans were caught off guard. Rather than taking the safe extra point against the Blue Raiders, Coach Fedora instantly decided to go for two and trot out the Heel’s two point conversion play. Carolina failed to convert the attempt, and were left with only 6 points from their first scoring drive.
Many Heels fans, including myself, were frustrated and confused by Coach Fedora’s decision. It is usually a forgone conclusion that you kick the extra point rather than making the risky choice of going for two, especially when you are only up one touchdown.
Despite its odd appearance, the play is actually very simple and can lead to an easy conversion if executed correctly. It is exactly the kind of play you want to have up your sleeve for late in a close game.
First, lets look at the play itself. This is the look the Heels gave the Blue Raiders after the second touchdown last week.
The basic idea is for the “quarterback” of the play to pick a side and throw a simple screen pass to the outside, hoping that the offense has a numbers advantage. If the blocking and numbers advantage is there, the pass catcher facing the “QB” should be able to easily trot into the end zone. If neither side has a clear numbers advantage, UNC can motion everyone back to normal extra point formation and kick for one point.
In this situation, you can see UNC has a numbers advantage on both sides. The Blue Raiders only lined up two defenders directly across the Tar Heel trio of blockers on the far side of the field, with another lurking about 5 yards away. The quarterback is taught to recognize this and make the easy throw. Many teams employ a similar or the same play, which is useful for a plethora of scenarios.
Against MTSU, both times the Tar Heels tried the play, it failed.
The first time, UNC’s wide receiver was tackled short of the goal line, and the second time, the conversion was successful, but a penalty negated the play’s success, and the Heels kicked an extra point on the next try.
This is a useful play, and I didn’t mind the Tar Heels rolling the dice and trying it out. You need to practice this play in a live game situation because there will be some times this season when UNC needs to go for two. The last thing you want is to have some sort of trick two point conversion go awry and to lose a close game by two points.
Also, Coach Fedora had to dial up the play early so it didn’t look like the Heels were running up the score. If they try this sort of play in the fourth quarter, it looks like UNC is reaching for the 40 or 45 point mark and is being unsportsmanlike to the other team. This play is just as important as any in the playbook, and despite its simplicity, could end up being the difference in a game later this season.