Guess who designed trick play for NT?

September 19, 2018

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday. It’s raining opinions.

• Major college football is a very small world.

At least, it can be. Take, for example, North Texas’ nowfamous trick play resulting in a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown against Arkansas on Saturday. Well, guess who brain-stormed and installed the play.

Does the name Marty Biagi ring a bell?

It should, because the Shelbyville, Kentucky, native was Marshall’s punter in 2005-2006-2007. Now, Biagi is North Texas’ special teams coordinator.

The fact of this unique matter is Biagi had been working on this trick play since preseason camp began. That’s because it took so much practice, including convincing punt returner Keegan Brewer to stand meekly in the face of charging could-be tacklers.

“You can’t just put that in on a Wednesday,” Biagi told SB Nation.com, “and then go, ‘Hey! Trust me!’ ”

That’s why the Mean Green practiced it over and over again.

“So, instead of just practicing that once,” said Biagi, “my big thing is: don’t practice it ‘til you get it right. Practice it ’til you can’t get it wrong.”

Which is precisely what happened Saturday against Arkansas. The trick punt return worked flawlessly. Yet, it still wasn’t easy.

“You talk about a big operation,” Biagi was quoted. “You’ve gotta have all hands on deck, because you’ve gotta have the sideline coaches, the strength staff doing a great job keeping everybody off the field, ’cause normally what happens is the offense is ready to take the field, run on and get everyone fired up.”

What a memorable play. And everybody had better remember it because no one will see it again for quite some time.

“I guess it’s like anything,” said Biagi. “You’ve gotta know and do great film study. It’s kind of like everything goes around and travels full circle. Maybe somebody’ll try it and maybe somebody won’t try it for 50 years, after I’m long gone.”

Here are two more interesting facts about Biagi.

No. 1, he was a former graduate assistant for — wait for it — Arkansas. No. 2, the trick play occurred on his birthday. Nice job, Marty.

• Speaking of North Texas’ win ... That 44-17 victory over SEC member Arkansas is far and away the signature triumph for Conference USA during non-conference play.

Otherwise, C-USA was struggling. Wisconsin drilled Western Kentucky, 34-3; Oklahoma embarrassed Florida Atlantic, 63-14; Liberty humiliated Old Dominion, 52-10; Middle Tennessee endured a 35-7 loss to Vanderbilt and 49-7 drubbing by Georgia; and UAB was humbled by Coastal Carolina, 47-24. Ugh.

Then, there’s UTSA and UTEP, who have combined for an 0-5 record. UTEP has lost to Northern Arizona, 30-10, and Tennessee, 24-0. Meanwhile, UTSA has losses of 49-7 to Arizona State, 37-20 to Baylor and 41-17 to Kansas State.

Thank goodness for North Texas. Otherwise, C-USA would be winless against Power Five teams.

• Rumors have been floating that Cody Mitchell was leaving Marshall’s football program. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.

The 6-foot-2, 233-pound red-shirt sophomore has departed after two games. His decision isn’t difficult to understand. Despite starting against Miami (Ohio) and playing vs. Eastern Kentucky, Mitchell hadn’t caught a pass.

Meanwhile, fellow tight ends Xavier Gaines and Amani Levias have four catches for 93 yards and three for 34 yards respectively.

It’s unpleasant to see the personable Point Pleasant, West Virginia, native leave, but Mitchell has to do what is right for him.

Good luck, Cody.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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