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Arizona football: A look at everything that went into the Wildcats' fake field goal vs. Washington

The stories behind Arizona's now famous fake field goal are hilarious.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats caught everyone off-guard when Rich Rodriguez called for a fake field goal late in the second quarter against the Washington Huskies.

Everyone including pretty much the entire Arizona sideline.

"I was shocked," freshman running back Nick Wilson said. "Everyone was jumping up and down screaming, and I was kinda confused at first, and then I saw what happened."

"At first I kinda got scared because I thought it was a high snap," joked Wilson. "And then I saw Casey (Skowron) running and I was like 'Oh, I've seen this in practice a couple times'."

"I was on the sideline, getting ready to get on D just in case he did miss it, we'd be ready to run out there," added Tra'Mayne Bondurant. "We'd been running it all week, so I didn't think we were going to run it but it was the perfect timing for the call and it was a great call and they executed it well, and I was super-excited for Casey as well."

Arizona had put the fake field goal in during practice the Tuesday afternoon before the Washington game. So it's only been around for a few days now.

"We practiced it a lot, and I thought we were ready for it," long snapper Jose Romero said this week.

"The fake was something that we've been practicing all week, and it was the type of thing we knew we were going to run," Casey Skowron said after the game.

"I think we did the majority (of the reps) on Tuesday," continued holder Drew Riggleman. "And then a couple times each day after that."

"So it was not that many reps," Romero conceded. "But I went back to the other field with the guys and practiced a couple snaps, because it had to be just right for Casey so it would work out perfectly."

"Casey's been fired up all week," Rodriguez said after the game Saturday. "He was like 'Coach, I got this'."

Jose Romero was in the same boat.

"During the week, I told coach Rod that we were ready for that," Romero added. "I was ready to go. I felt very confident that play would work. And we had practiced it a lot inside and I thought it would be okay."

The Call

Coach Rodriguez said that the decision to go run the fake play happened because Washington was lined up a certain way.

"Coach Rod will call the check on the sideline," holder Drew Riggleman said. "And once we get lined up and he sees how the defense lines up, I'll look to him to see if he still wants to stay in the fake or just kick the field goal. So he's making the final decision on the sideline."

"Just a matter of looking for that defense and making sure it was going to work," continued Romero.

But everyone else still needs to know what's going on. And Riggleman is in charge of that as well.

"It's just my cadence," he explained. "It's just what I say that signals to him to snap the ball over me to Casey, and signals the other people on the line to do their jobs."

"So I just kind of wait for Drew to get the signal from coach," added Romero. "And then I just react to it and adjust my position to my snap."

"I looked at Drew, and he said 'Let's go', and I snapped it and it ended up pretty good."

The Snap

What makes a good long snapper?

"You gotta see the world upside down," RichRod joked. "If you can see the world in between your legs upside down and keep your head and wits about you, you're okay."

It all came down to the snap for the play to actually work, and Romero is the Wildcats' back-up long snapper, which makes this play even more impressive.

"He's done a great job," Riggleman said of Romero stepping in for an injured Chase Gorham. "His snaps are a little different than Chase's just cuz it's right-handed versus left-handed, so the ball spirals the opposite way, which at first, it was a little different to catch. But we've been working with him since Spring, and I feel like he's done a great job. He's been really consistent."

"He's been really solid both in the punt snaps and the kick snaps," coach Rodriguez added. "Jose's been real good and have had no issues yet."

Once the call is made to go for the fake, all of it comes down to the actual snap and how well it's executed.

"There's just so much pressure," Romero explained of that feeling. "It's the difference between three points and not getting it, or not getting the first down and getting a turnover on downs."

You'll notice when watching it that the snap actually leads Skowron a couple of steps to his right, which was the main focus when the guys were working on the play.

"We wanted him to lead Casey a yard or two on that, and it was just right," Rodriguez said.

"That was the main thing we practiced," Romero said. "What would be my main point of accuracy? So I was aiming basically on top of Drew, so just a little higher than where he's holding. That way it would have a lean for Casey to catch it on the run. I didn't want to snap it directly to him because he uses that step to beat the guy on the outside. So we had to lead him a little bit."

"It was all about getting the ball in the right area," Skowron added. "I just put my head down, waited for the snap, and was ready to go."

Looking back on it, Romero was very self-critical of how the execution of the snap went.

"It may have been a little wide, maybe, cuz Casey had to reach a little for it, but I also think if it wasn't for that lean, he maybe would have stopped a little, and that would have been the difference in those couple steps in him getting to the endzone."

So was it always that perfect?

"The first couple practices it was a little shaky," Romero confessed. "It was either a little too inside, or a little too wide, or the timing wasn't right with Drew and the call, so it was a little shaky. By the end of the week though I think it was looking much better."

"It was actually funny too, that week they were practicing it, I didn't think it worked all the times we practiced it," joked Nick Wilson. "And then I seen it work out during the game."

The Hold

An underrated part of this whole thing is Riggleman staying down in the holding position, and pretending like he was still setting up the field goal, right down to fake spinning the laces in place.

"I think it helped with the guy coming off the edge," the punter said. "He sees me do the same routine that I normally would so I think it helped catch him a little bit and gave Casey an extra step."

The Run

Then came the actual running to the endzone part.

"Right when I turned around, I heard the crowd, and I saw Casey running, and I was like 'He's going to score," Romero explained. "I was just like, let's get ready for that PAT."

"Casey can run," Rodriguez added. "So when it was there, I was like 'Okay, we're going to score a touchdown. The guy that Derrick Turituri blocked, cuz he was running a flat route. Whether he caught Casey or not I don't know, but Derrick kind of sprung him with that block. And that was something he did on his own. For us, we just taught him to go on a flat, and either somebody will cover you or you'll be wide open."

"Yeah, it was just natural instinct," Turituri added about his block. "Just trying to help him get in the endzone."

"Playing soccer my whole life, obviously I've been running a whole lot," Skowron said of his ground-game skills.

"He was talking to me about it today," Wilson added at practice on Tuesday. "He said he was more efficient as far as rushing. He's 100 percent touchdowns and all this stuff and I was like 'aight'."

Was Skowron trying to get reps at tailback at Tuesday's practice?

"He did actually," Wilson said with a big smile on his face.

The Pass?

This play had another option in the middle of it. There was the chance that Skowron could have thrown the ball to Derrick Turituri had he felt that running the ball wouldn't have gotten the yardage for a first down.

"Basically I just have a little arrow route," said Turituri of his role on the play. "Just go three yards up the field and go to the sideline, and if Casey runs it, I just block for him."

"Obviously it was an option, but there's so much that can go wrong with throwing," Skowron explained. "One, trusting my arm, and two, trusting that Derrick's going to make the catch. But I was glad when I saw the space was open to have the run available."

"I've seen (Turituri) catch a couple times in practice from some below-average throwers," coach Rodriguez added. "I think he's a solid athlete. I mean, I'm not going to put him in there and throw slant routes to him or anything like that. But if we ever had to throw it to him, he was prepared to catch the ball. But I think he knew pretty early that Casey wasn't going to throw him the ball, so he turned around and made a real good block."

"Pretty confident," Turituri said of his confidence in catching the ball. "I actually used to be a tight end in high school. I haven't played offense here obviously but I've always wanted to score a touchdown whether it be on defense or whatever on field goals."

"(Casey) threw it to me once (during practice) and I caught it. And then a couple other times Casey just ran it.

"Obviously I was hoping we wouldn't have to throw it," Rodriguez continued. "Casey might tell you that he can throw really well, but I've seen him throw a little bit and he's okay but he's not a thrower. He's a runner."

Which makes you wonder, how good of an arm does Casey Skowron have?

"Compared to Anu (Solomon), about a two," Skowron said of his arm. "Compared to your average kicker, probably about a seven."

"I haven't (seen him throw)," added Nick Wilson. "We'll see how that works out."

"He can throw, but it's not the best," Riggleman said with a smile. "(Coach) didn't want to have Turituri try to catch the ball either."

Which kicker has the better arm? Riggleman or Skowron?

"Oh definitely me," Riggleman said emphatically. "I can throw like 50 on a good day. If only we could throw it, but then I'd have no job because then we'd just have Anu in there."

This revelation of Riggleman's strong arm means that Arizona needs a fake punt play soon, right?

"I hope so," he joked.

Obviously, the fake field goal was just one play, but it swung the momentum in the Washington game right before halftime. If things go the Wildcats' way the next couple weeks, it could be the play that launches the program into bigger and better things.

And man are there some hilarious stories behind all of it.