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Best 2011 South Carolina Football Plays: Number Two, Ingram Fake Punt

This post continues our countdown to the best plays of 2011. We're down to number two, and we've got a good one: Melvin Ingram's long TD run on a fake punt against UGA. Here's the play:

Melvin Ingram -- 68 Yard TD -- Fake Punt!!! (2011) (via BoomGamecocks)

Why It's This High: Some of you have argued that that Jadeveon Clowney's sack / forced fumble, which Ingram returned for a TD, should be higher than this play. There's a fair argument for that position, but here's why I disagree. The fake punt wasn't only a shockingly awesome play, complete with the iconic image of Hairy Dawg looking flabbergasted as Ingram ran into the end zone. It was also a really momentum-changing play that made a huge difference in this game. By all measures, Georgia looked to be in control at this point. The Dawgs had blown several opportunities to open up a big lead on us in the early part of the game, but they finally looked to be asserting themselves right before this play. They had recently taken a 13-7 lead, which was promptly followed by what looked to be a three-and-out for Carolina. If we had punted, Georgia would have gotten the ball with decent field position, and if it had reached the end zone on this drive, we probably wouldn't have come back to win this game. Georgia would have been able to play more conservatively and force our offense to win the game, and I'm not sure that would have happened with the way Stephen Garcia was playing. Because we went to the halftime with a lead, Georgia tried to force things in the second half, and that led to some of the turnovers we benefited from. That's why Spurrier took a gamble here. By comparison, I think we still win without the Clowney / Ingram play. Let's say it's just a sack for Clowney. Georgia is staring down second and 20 or so, and they probably don't get that. We get the ball back and run out the clock with Lattimore. Game over. Clowney / Ingram was inarguably huge, but I don't think it was as much of a difference-maker as the fake punt.

And the fake punt was really a beautifully designed play. What's really brilliant about it is that there isn't anyone who the defense would perceive as a threat fake in punt protection unit. You've got Ingram, Justice Cunningham, and an offensive lineman. (Anyone know who 70 is? It's Kyle Harris now, but I don't recall who it was last year.) The typical gunners are lined up. Usually, you sneak a backup running back onto the field for this kind of play, but here we sneak Ingram, a defensive lineman, out there, and Georgia doesn't have any idea what's about to happen. The good news is, Ingram is a former running back who easily runs down the field and beats off would-be tacklers. Just a very nicely done play here. And it was classic Spurrier; don't forget that UGA had just tried to take a chance on an on-sides kick. Not to be outdone, Spurrier tries a trick play, too--only his works.

Why It's Not Higher: Really, only because I have one more play up my sleeve that I thought was better. Stay tuned.