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How Washington State's Mike Leach worked with Microsoft to score a wacky TD against Oregon

To open the scoring against Oregon, Washington State coach Mike Leach pulled out an unusual formation.

In a variation of a “swinging gate,” Washington State’s entire offensive line was lined up way left of the ball with wide receiver Kyle Sweet acting as the center. Sweet snapped the ball back across the field to quarterback Gardner Minshew. Minshew then handed it off to running back James Williams.

Here’s how it worked out:


As unique as the play, which Leach has called “Big Gulp left,” looked, the touchdown was more a product of an insane effort from Williams, who broke at least seven tackles en route to a 24-yard score to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Leach has called the play a few times before. He first revealed it to the world in the opener against Wyoming, albeit in a slightly different form.


He called another variation of the play against USC.


Leach told reporters earlier this year that the formation was the result of a collaboration with a Microsoft engineer.

Yes, really.

From the Spokesman-Review:

In fact, it was a collaboration between the offensive-minded WSU coach and someone who has no apparent football background, other than a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for the game.

“I know this engineer from Microsoft and he likes football and says, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about this?’” Leach said. “One of those idea guys. Very brilliant guy. He’s got a lot of ideas. So he came up with a bunch of formations and pretty good ideas and said they’d be interesting. Got me thinking, so basically on the enthusiasm and energy of some of his thoughts, what he saw, we thought we’d mess with it and it was fun for our players and things.”

Against Oregon, it probably didn’t go as designed, but an awesome individual effort from Williams resulted in a touchdown anyway.

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