Former Football Player Appreciates Boise Trick Play

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I knew Eric Anderson would understand it.

Not because he's now a highly successful Payson dentist, but because he once played football on the offensive line.

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Eric Anderson

What Eric appreciated on national television was watching a pulling guard and an offensive line execute the blocks that cleared the way for a successful do-or-die Statue of Liberty play.

The trick play, one of the oldest in the books, helped the Boise State Broncos upset Oklahoma 43-42 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

On the play, Broncos running back, Ian Johnson, snared quarterback Jared Zabransky's behind-the-back handoff, sped around the left end and scored the two points that lifted Boise to the most improbable of victories.

While scribes and fans from around the nation were touting the perfect execution by Zabransky and Johnson and the guts first-year coach Chris Peterson and offensive coordinator Bran Harsin had in calling in the play, there were those former linemen who noticed it was the offensive line's blocks that helped clear the way for the two-point winning conversion.

The onside guard pulled around the end to clear the way and another lineman sent an Oklahoma defender to his knees, thus cutting off any pursuit of Johnson.

Most who have played the great game of football know guards, tackles and centers don't get much credit for what they contribute on the field. Their mugs usually appear on television only when they've committed an illegal procedure or holding penalty.

Eric is among those who appreciated the Boise State lineman's contribution because for two seasons, 1986 and 1987, he was an all-region and all-state player for Longhorn teams that won the A West region championship and advanced to the state tournament.

In 1986, Eric led the PHS team to the state finals and the following year to the semifinals.

Eric Anderson was a football rarity in that he was a relatively undersized lineman who had the speed, quickness and athletic ability to also start in the defensive backfield.

As an interior lineman, he had to wear the No. 68 to be legal. Which meant, when he lined up as a d-back, his number stood out against all the single digits, teens, 20s and 30s that other backs wore.

As one of his coaches, I remember an opposing coach asking, "What's a lineman doing playing d-back? We'll pick on him."

That was a huge faux pas. Eric was as good a defensive back as he was an offensive guard.

Although Eric undoubtedly enjoyed his time on an island, covering wide-outs and providing run support, he'll probably never forget what it's like to nestle down into a three-point stance and clear the way for a running back, knowing you'll never get much credit for what you do.

That's why he's among those lauding the Boise State offensive line for helping bamboozle the Oklahoma Sooners.

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