The end rusher must get into condition early. Unless he does, he cannot handle the work that must fall to his share, and the effect of a poor performance by the end is to produce disorder at once in the proportion of work as well as the quality of the work of the tackles and half-backs. This is not well understood by captains and coaches, but it is easy to see if one follows the play. A tired end rusher, even one who has experience and a good idea of his place, will lope down the field under a kick, and by his lack of speed will allow a return; and, against a running game, while he will, it is true, force his man in, he will do it so slowly that the runner is enabled to pass the tackle. The first will surely result in his own halves shortening their kicks, and the second in drawing his own tackle too widely from the guard. Both these results seriously affect the value of the practice for halves and tackles; consequently, the end must be put in condition early. The finer points of his position can be worked up gradually, but his endurance must be good at the outset, in order that the others may become accustomed to rely upon him for regular work. But it sometimes happens that the captain or coach has no chance to make sure of this.
His candidates may be raw, and only appear upon the first day of fall practice. In that case there is a method which he can adopt to advantage, and which answers the purpose. It is to play his candidates for that position one after the other in rotation, insisting upon hard playing even if it be for only five minutes at a time. In this way not only will the tackle receive the proper support, but the ends themselves will improve far more rapidly than under the usual method. Every player upon a team has to labor under two distinctly different sets of circumstances : one set arising from the possession of the ball by his opponents, and the other from the possession of the ball by his own side. Many an error in instruction or coaching arises from terming the tactics adopted under these two conditions defensive and offensive. It is no uncommon thing to see an end rusher, who has been told that such and such is his defensive play, so affected by the word defensive , as applied to his action, as to fail entirely to perform any aggressive work when his opponents have the ball. And a similarly undesirable state of affairs is brought about by the term offen sive when his own side have the ball.
In this latter case, he seems inspired to become aggressive in his conduct towards his opponent from the moment the men are lined up, and this very often leads him to make any interference of his so premature as to render it useless towards favoring his runner. One of the first things, therefore, for a coach to tell an end rusher is that the terms offensive and defensive, as applied to team work, have nothing to do with the aggressiveness of any individual. Then, as a matter of still better policy, let him avoid using these terms in individual coaching.
When the opponents have the ball, the end rusher must, in the case of a kick, do his utmost to prevent his vis-a-vis from getting down the field early under the ball. That is the cardinal point, and it is not necessary for him to do much thinking regarding anything else when he is facing a kicking game. When his opponents are about to make a run, the situation is much more involved. He must then consider himself as the sole guardian of that space of ground extending. from his tackle to the edge of the field, and he must begin at the touch line and work in. That is, he must remember that, while on one side of him there is the tackle, who will do his utmost to help him out, there is on the other side-that is, towards touch- no one to assist him, and a run around the end means a free run for many yards. "Force the man in" is always a good motto for an end, and one he will do well to follow conscientiously. To force the man in does not mean, however, to stand with one foot on the touch line, and then reach in as far as possible and watch the man go by, as nine out of every ten ends have been doing for two years. It means, go at the runner with the determination of getting him any way, but taking him always from the outside.
An end cannot tackle as occasionally does a half-back or back, slowly and even waiting for his man, then meeting him low and strong. An end always has to face interference, and good interference will bowl over a waiting end with ease. An end must go up as far and fast as he dares to meet the runner, and when his moment comes- which must be a selected moment-he must shoot in at his man, reaching him, if possible, with his shoulder, and at the same time extending his arms as far around him as possible. Many times this reaching enables an end to grasp his man even though a clever interferer break the force of his tackle. And when his fingers touch the runner, he must grip with the tenacity of the bulldog, and never let go.
It seems almost unnecessary to say that a high tackier has no chance whatever as an end rusher. He may play guard or centre, but before a man ever essays the end he must have passed through all the rudimentary schooling in tackling, and be such an adept that to pass him without the assistance of the most clever interference is an impossibility.
An end should be a good follower; that is, if the runner make in towards the tackle, the end should run him down from behind when interference cuts off the tackle. This is one of the best points for cultivation, because it effectually prevents any dodging by the runner. If he fail to take his opening cleanly, a following end is sure of him. This is not a safe point, however, to teach until the player has fairly mastered the ordinary end-work; for the tendency is to leave his own position too soon, giving the runner an opportunity to turn out behind him, and thus elude the tackle without difficulty.
A few years ago there was quite a fashion for the man putting the ball in from touch to run with it along the edge of the field. For some unknown reason this play seems to have been abandoned, but it is likely at any time to be revived, and the end rusher should therefore be posted upon the modus operandi of it, as well as the best method of preventing its success. The most popular execution of this manoeuvre was the simplest; that is, the man merely touched the ball to the ground and plunged ahead as far as he could until brought to earth or thrown out into touch. This was accompanied by more or less helpful interferences upon the part of his own end and tackle. There were more intricate methods, however; and surely, with the amount of interference allowed in these days, it is odd that the side line has not been more fancied by those who have generalled the great games. There was one team a few years ago whose captain used to deliberately place the ball just inside the line on the ground, as though only thoughtlessly leaving it there, and then spring in, crowding the end rusher three or four feet from the touch line, while a running half, who was well started, came tearing up the field, seized the ball, and usually made a long run before he was stopped by the astonished halves.
Many also were the combination passes in which the ball was handed to the end rusher, who, turning suddenly with his back to the foes, would pass to his quarter or running half. Of these close double passes at the edge of the field the most effective were those wherein the runner darted by just inside the touch line, and the weakest the ones wherein the attempt was made to advance out into the field. For this reason there ought to be no particular necessity for coaching any but the end rusher and the tackle upon means to prevent advances of this nature. To the players in the centre of the line there is no apparent difference whether the ball be played from touch in any of these ways above mentioned, or through the more customary channel of the quarter-back. To the end and tackle, however, the difference is marked, because the runner comes so much sooner and the play is so greatly condensed and focussed, as it were, directly upon them.
J.K. Hull. Yale.
The instructions to the end are to handle the ball as much as possible while the opponent is endeavoring to get it in, and thus make the work of that individual as difficult as possible; and, secondly, to plant one foot close to the touch line and the other as far out into the field as is consistent with stability, and to maintain that position until the play is over. He must neither try to go forward nor around, but, braced well forward, hold his ground. If he does this, no runner can pass within three feet of the touch line, and outside of that the tackle can take care of him. This player, like the end, should, when the ball is played from a fair, be very loath to plunge forward until the play is located, because in the present stage of development of the game one can be quite sure that the opponents will not play the ball from touch unless they have some definite and usually deceptive line of action. Without such it is by far the better policy to walk out the fifteen paces and have it down. The quarter-back also has work to do upon side-line plays, in assisting at the edge as much as possible. But to return to the end.
When his own side have possession of the ball, his play, like that of any other man, must be governed by the character of the intended move, and the knowledge of what this move will be is conveyed to him by the signal. The nearer the play is to his end, the greater is the assistance he can render. There is little need of coaching him to do his work when the run is along his line, nor, in fact, when it is upon his side of the centre. The knowledge of the proximity of the runner stirs him up sufficiently, if he have any football blood in him. The point towards which coaching should be directed and where it is needed is in starting instantly to render assistance when the play is upon the other side of the line. There is no limit to the amount of work an end may perform in this direction. A good end can toss his man back so that he cannot interfere with the play, and then cross over so quickly as to perform effective interference even upon end runs. In "bucking the centre" he can come from behind with valuable weight and pressure. A coach should remember, though, that it will not do to start an end into doing too much unless he is able to stand the work, for an end had better do the work well upon his own side than be only half way useful upon both ends.
A tired-out end makes the opponents doubly strong.
E. Poe. Princeton.