Andrew Furney: Part lineman, part kicker, part shifty running back. Photo via Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
I have a few favorite moments from this past football season, but have been unable to sit and write them down since the season ended. Immediately after the Apple Cup, the attention turned to the coaching situation, with Paul Wulff losing his job and Mike Leach being hired in his place in a 24-hour span. Now that there's a bit of free time, I figured I'd share some of these, beginning with a story about a kicker.
There's an unwritten rule when it comes to practice about what's can be reported on and not, and we all honor it. Play-calling, strategy, installs and the like are all off-limit, limiting the actual information that comes out of practice to injuries, participation and depth chart items.
In this case, though, I think the statute of limitations has expired, and the sequence in question wasn't really about strategy anyway. Exercising caution, it's been something I've held onto for a long time, but considering the previous coaching staff is long gone, I think it's fair to share. It involves a special teams drill and was the funniest thing I saw all season.
To set the scene, special teams drills are done early on during practice -- usually one of the first segments. There's punt drills and placekicking drills, and then the specialists disappear to work individually on their skills. The following took place during the placekicking drill, which pits the two starting units against one another.
During the drill, which is mostly for kickers to practice live against a rush from various distances and angles, there are always fakes thrown in. Sometimes the scrambles are due to a botched snap while others are planned trick plays. They're never too successful for reasons that should be obvious.
However, there was one time the drill was beyond successful. It was so successful that the players watching on the sideline erupted in cheers and laughter, while the rest of the onlookers tried to stifle their own giggles. It involved Andrew Furney, and you can probably guess which direction this is going.
Furney took a pitch from Dan Wagner and ran toward the edge with one man to beat. It was Furney versus a defensive back, and there was no way in hell the kicker was going to win the race to the edge. But in a surprising move, WSU's suddenly fleet-of-foot kicker planted his right leg, faked like he was going to go outside and cut back inside.
The defensive back -- a starter whose name is being withheld to protect the innocent -- went sliding right by. On his backside. On the turf. Juked by Andrew Furney.
This would be embarrassing enough, especially with the players on the sideline already screaming and chanting. But no, as Furney made his way past his now prone opponent, he turned around and dropped the football next to him. It was like a comedian dropping the microphone and admiring his work.
The offense rallied around jumping up and down, and it was basically this audio, in visual form. I still giggle whenever I picture it, and probably always will.
I bring this up not to embarrass the player who Furney juked, but instead to give a pat on the back to the under-appreciated kicker. Furney is an excellent kid with a funny sense of humor, though he rarely sees the spotlight.
And his Barry Sanders impression was my favorite moment of the 2011 season.