When it comes to play calling on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line, Dan Mullen and his quarterback must think a lot a like.
In that situation Saturday, quarterback Feleipe Franks ended up calling the play after he failed to pick up the play being signalled in from the sideline and called by Mullen.
Franks called his own number — a quarterback sneak over the right side — and succeeded. He dove into the end zone for the winning touchdown in the 35-31 victory over South Carolina.
“I couldn’t find our signal caller,” Franks said. “We had already got in the huddle, so I was like, ‘Let me look at my wrist band and see what plays we have in our goal-line package.’ One with a running back and one passing it and one where you can run it. I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to go with the one where I can run it.’ I was like, ‘Coach Mullen will probably get mad if I don’t get it.’ But I have confidence. So I just called it.
“It was weird. I just couldn’t find them and see him over there. It was in the heat of the moment. So, I just called my own play.”
As it turns out Franks called the same play Mullen was calling for from the sideline, the same play Franks failed to get in the end zone on first and third down.
“He called the right one because that’s what we signaled,” Mullen said. “He’s a little flaky sometimes. We ran the same play the play before. It’s just our quarterback off tackle play. We signaled run the same play and they ran the same play. If he had run it right the two previous times he wouldn’t have had to run it on fourth down.
“I like that he wants the ball in his hands for the game-winning play. I always think that’s huge. You want guys that want the ball in their hands to win the game. That just shows the confidence in themselves and belief in themselves that they can make the play.”
After failing to score on the third-down sneak, Franks was fired up to try again.
“I always want the ball,” he said. “I just wanted to run somebody over. I was just super pissed. I just wanted to lower my head. I have faith in myself and confidence in myself, especially on fourth-and-one. I wanted the ball and I wanted to score.”
Starting wide receiver Freddie Swain, who missed the South Carolina game, is on schedule to return for Saturday’s game against Idaho.
“Freddie Swain had an ankle sprain and he’s expect to play this week for us, according to the trainers,” Mullen said.
Two other players who missed the USC game — offensive guard Brett Heggie and safety Brad Stewart — are questionable for Saturday.
Heggie is dealing with an ankle sprain, while Stewart has a strained quad.
“When you have the muscle pulls (like Stewart), he’ll be day-to-day and we’ll see as the week goes on. Talking to our trainers, they feel he could be ready to go by Saturday, but with muscle pulls you don’t know.”