There is no doubt that many of those reading this know about Spider 2 (or 3) Y Banana. I'd assume the majority of knowledge on this topic comes from Jon Gruden losing his mind on Monday Night Football whenever he sees this play in action. And he may be right, as this play can get you five yards each time or more when you run it. Let's have former Stanford quarterback, master of Spider 2 Y Banana, and Geico spokesperson Andrew Luck explain it.
There are other names for this play, but this has become the most ubiquitous name for this play. To boil it down simply, it is a fake power to the two or three hole, between the guard and the tackle. 2 means the play goes to the right and 3 means it goes to the left. Fullback goes to chip the outside defender, as he would do when leading on a power, and heads out into a short bench route. Nine times out of ten he is wide open. A prime example of this was in the 2011 Big Game, when Stanford ran this play four times in a series to Ryan Hewitt, racking up yards and running down clock. Now, with the proliferation of spread offenses, this play can often go unused. In all the film I've watched this year, I don't believe I have seen it run once. Teams could definitely use it, and now that we've reached a halfway point of sorts of this season, it is time to talk about who needs to start running Spider 2 Y Banana.
Of course, there are a couple teams that I don't think need to run it, those being Oregon and Arizona. Both of these teams don't have any reason to run this play. For Oregon, they have a system that runs a lot of swings to a motion receiver that cover the same purpose. And Arizona has a solid enough running game with Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby to dispel the need for Spider 2 Y Banana. I can't see any way the running Spider 2 Y Banana makes either team better. Anyhow, let's start with the teams in the north.
Pac-12 North Teams
Let's start with Washington State and Cal. If you're Washington State, you want to show your running backs that you do care about them, and instead of Connor Halliday throwing the occasional check-down swing route, you get a whole play dedicated to the running backs, which is about one more than what they have currently. For the Bears, the reasoning is different, but the construction is the same. Cal has had trouble slowing down the game and holding on to lead while chewing up clock. This can be remedied through this magical play. Plus, it can come from the bone formation, a fan favorite as far as formations. It also gets Lucas Gingold the ball, which is pretty cool. Since Cal and Wazzu have similar playbooks, the could start in a trips set and motion the inside-most receiver into the backfield to form a makeshift strong right formation, as shown below.
On to Washington and Oregon State. Washington's Cyler Miles may have some struggles in games to come, and what better way to give him a safety blanket then by throwing in one of these. Heck, throw John Ross III or Shaq Thompson in at that fullback slot for even more fun. Like Peter Gabriel once said, the amusement never ends. Considering Shaq's abilities to score on defense and Ross's ability to make people miss in the open field, this would be an excellent play to experiment with offensively. For Oregon State, Sean Mannion hasn't been what was expected so far, and getting some nice easy throws made out of the backfield could be just what the doctor ordered. Plus, the Beavers have two talented runners in Terron Ward and Storm Woods. I'd want to see them on the field at the same time, like the Raiders used to do in the early 2000s with Tyrone Wheatley and Charlie Gardner. Running this play gives them an opportunity to have more threats on the field in order to draw in the defense.
Finally, on to Stanford. I haven't seen the Cardinal run this play recently, which is odd considering that the offensive coordinator position is named after the aforementioned Mr. Luck. While David Shaw makes the Bush Administration look like Keynesian economists in comparison to his offense, it would seem like this play is just conservative enough to fit into the fold. With Patrick Skov and Christian McCaffrey as threats out of the backfield, Stanford could go back to the halcyon days of Luck moving the ball up the field with quick passes to Hewitt. And maybe it would help their lacking redzone presence, which has been an oft stated issue this season.
Pac-12 South Teams
Let's start with the LA teams. USC has a threat in the backfield in Buck Allen. He put up 205 yards rushing against the Wildcats, which means he's perfect for use as a decoy in the course of this play. USC still runs a little of the pro-style offense of last year, so it wouldn't be too far fetched for them to go under center for a quick play action pass. For UCLA, the problem will continue to be their offensive line until they silence the critics. With little time to throw, and a surprisingly good run game, Brett Hundley can freeze the defense and dump it off to a playmaker motioned into the backfield. Jordon James or Myles Jack could fill this role.
For Utah, the logic is similar to USC. Devontae Booker has had a couple of monster games in a row, and as teams start to key in on him, the Utes can use him as a decoy in this case, along with a little bit of a confidence boost for whichever quarterback they decide to bring in. Neither Travis Wilson or Kendal Thompson has looked completely comfortable, which makes throwing short routes for fruitful gains even more important. For Colorado, they could give Nelson Spruce yet another way to catch the ball, making sure that he can have a chance at breaking the reception record currently held by Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green.
Lastly, for the Sun Devils, my reasoning is simple. There will never be another defense that plays a hailmary as poorly as USC's. Jaelen Strong had played a wonderful game even before that, but I doubt there will ever be another Jael-Mary. With a first year starter in Mike Bercovicci, the easiest option may be to just take the five or six yards a pop from a nice little play to the fullback, or even DJ Foster. Spider 2 Y Banana makes everybody's life easier.
Running this play only requires a couple of small tweaks to already existing sets, and it allows for offenses to put playmakers in at the fullback slot. Plus, I'd like to see Jon Gruden's head explode. It's a win for everyone involved.