THOSE teams upon which the work of end and tackle has been best developed have, for the last few years, been markedly superior in the opposition offered to plays of their opponents. This fact in itself is an excellent guide to the style of play one ought to expect from these two positions. The four men occupying them are the ones to meet nine tenths of the aggressive work of the opponents. The position of end has already been dwelt upon at length. That of tackle, a position much later to reach the full stage of development than the end, has nevertheless now attained almost an equal prominence. The tackle is an assistant to both end and guard, while he has also duties of his own demanding constant attention.
When the opponents have the ball and are about to kick, the tackle is one of the most active components of the line. He may not be moving until the ball is snapped, but upon the instant that it is played he is at work. He may himself go through to prevent the pass or kick, or still oftener he may, make a chance for a line half-back to do this. By a line half-back is meant that one who, upon his opponents' plays, comes up into the line and performs| the duties of a rusher. This method has become so common of late that it is well understood. The play of this line half-back must dovetail into the work of the tackle so well as to make their system one of thoroughly mutual understanding. For this reason they should do plenty of talking and plan ning together off the field, and carry their plans into execution in daily practice until they become in company a veritable terror to opponents, particularly to kicking halves.
One of the very simple, yet clever and successful, combinations worked in this way has been for the line half to take his position outside the tackle, who immediately begins to edge out towards the end. This opens a gap between the opposing tackle and guard, for the tackle will naturally follow his man. This line half simply watches the centre, and as he sees the ball played goes sharply behind the tackle and through the opening. This play can be greatly aided by cleverness on the part of the tackle, who, to perform it to perfection, should edge out most cautiously, and with an evident intention of going to the outside of his man. He should also watch the centre play, and, most important of all, jump directly forward into his man when the ball is snapped. This will enable the half to take almost a direct line for the half, and with his flying start have more than a fair chance of spoiling the kick. The tackle must not be idle after his plunge, but should follow in sharply, because there will always be an opposing half protecting the kicker; and if the line half be checked by this man, as is not unlikely, the following tackle has an excellent opportunity by getting in rapidly.
The tackle and half should alternate in their arrangement, neither one always going through first, and thus add to the anxiety and discomfort of the opponents.
When the opponents are about to run instead of kick, the same combination of line half and tackle can be put in operation, except that it will not do for these two to follow each other through with such freedom, as there is too much danger of both being shunted offby a clever turn coupled with well-timed interference. The cardinal point to be remembered is, to be far enough apart so that a single dodge and one interference cannot possibly throw off both men.
EVERETT J. LAKE, Harvard.
The tackle's duties towards the end have been partially described in dwelling upon the work of the latter, but there is plenty of detail to be studied. One of the first things to impress upon the tackle is, that he must watch the ball, not only upon the pass from the quarter, but also after it settles in the runner's arms, for the most successful double or combination passes are those which draw the tackle in towards the centre and give the second recipient of the ball only the end to pass. It has been too common a mistake of coaches to caution a tackle who has been deceived by this double pass against" going so hard." This is wrong. It soon results in making a slow man of the player, for he hangs back to see if the runner be not about to pass the ball, until he is too late to try for the man before he reaches the rush line; and, with the present system of interference and crowding a runner after he reaches the rush line, there is no chance to stop him short of three, and it may very likely be five, yards. The proper coaching is to send him through on the jump, with his eyes open for tricks. Let him take a step or two towards the runner, so that, if no second pass be made, the tackle will be sure to meet him before he reaches the rush line, and not after it.
This method of coaching makes not only sharp tackles, but quick and clever ones, with plenty of independence, which will be found a most excellent quality.
As regards the relations between the tackle and guard, they are best defined by saying that the guard expects to receive the assistance of the tackle in all cases requiring agility, while in cases requiring weight the guard is equally ready to lend assistance to the tackle.
When his own side has the ball, the tackle has far more than the end to do. In fact, the tackle has the most responsible work of any man along the line, having more openings to make, and at the same time the blocking he has to perform is more difficult. The earlier description of the work of a line half and the tackle in getting through is sufficient to indicate the difficulties which the opposing tackle must face in preventing this breaking through.
While blocking may not be the most important duty, it is certainly the one which will bear the most cultivation in the tackles of the present day, for the ones who are really adept in it are marked exceptions to the general run. It is no exaggeration to say that more than two thirds of the breaking through that does real damage comes between the end and guard, and therefore in the space supposed to be under the care of the tackle. By successful blocking is meant, not unfair holding, which sooner or later will result in disaster, nor backing upon a runner or kicker as the charger advances, which is almost as bad as no blocking, but that clever and properly timed body-checking of the opponent which delays him just long enough to render his effort to reach his man futile every time. This kind of blocking looks so easy, and is so difficult, that it is found only in a man who is willing to make a study of it. Coaching can but give any one wishing to acquire this a few points; the real accomplishment depends upon the man's unflagging perseverance and study. The first thing to be noted is, that a really good forward cannot possibly be blocked every time in the same way. He soon becomes used to the method, and is able to avoid the attempt.
Dashing violently against him just as he is starting may work once or twice, and then he will make a false start to draw this charge, and easily go by the man. Standing motionless, and then turning with a sharp swing back against him, will disconcert his charge once in a while. Shouldering him in the side as he passes will throw him off his balance or against some other man, if well performed, occasionally. Falling down before him by a plunge will upset him even when he has quite a clear space apparently, but it will not work if played too often. By a preconcerted plan he may be coaxed through upon a pretended snap, and then the ball played while he is guarded and five yards gained by his off-side play, but he will not be taken in again by the same method. These are but a few of the strategies which engage the study of the tackle. How soon to let the man through is also an important question. When the ball is to be punted, the tackle upon the kicker's side must block long and hard, while the tackle upon the other end should block sharply, and then let his man through for the sake of getting down the field under the kick. When a drop is to be attempted, the blocking upon both sides must be close and long, much longer than for a punt.
Moreover, it is by no means a bad policy to have the blocking last until the ball is actually seen in the air in front of the line, be-cause then, if the kick be stopped, the tackles can go back to assist the backs in recovering the ball. The blocking for a kick, as a rule, should be close; that is, every opponent must be matched from the centre out, leaving the free man or men on the ends. This rule has its exceptions, but when there is any doubt about the play it is safest to block close, and take the chances from the ends rather than through breaks in the line.
Wylly's Terry. Yale.
In blocking for a run the case is very different, and depends upon the point of assault. If the run is to be made around the right end, for instance, by the left half-back, the right tackle must block very slowly and long. That is, he must not dash up to his man the instant the ball is snapped and butt him aside, for the runner will not be near enough to derive any advantage from this, and the opponent will easily recover in time to tackle him. Rather should he avoid contact with his man until his runner makes headway, and then keep between the opponent and runner until the latter puts on steam to circle, when it is his duty to engage his man sharply, and thus let the runner pass. In blocking for an inside run upon his own side, he should turn his man out or in, as the case may be, just as the runner reaches the opening, being particularly careful not to make the break too early, lest the opponent reach the runner before he comes to the opening.