THE offense have kicked from right to left. Less than three seconds has elapsed since the bail was put in play. The defense have made a valiant attempt to block the kick (see player with upraised arms), and how nearly successfully may be judged by position of the ball.
On the 80 yard line are seen two offensive ends and a tackle on their way downfield to tackle the recipient (not shown in this picture) of the kick. The two defensive wing halfbacks (85 yard line) may be seen beginning their hindrance against the two aforementioned ends.
The : nemen, having checked their opponents until there was no possibility of i k, are just getting under way near the twenty-five yard line.
Please note that all four officials are intently watching the actions of the players as is their duty. If the spectator will do likewise he will not only see the most interesting part of the play but may know the reason why certain penalties are sometimes inflicted.
Yale vs. Harvard 1920.
In order that the above plays be utilized to their utmost effectiveness, it is usual that the offense employ three to four different formations as follows:
1. Close formation, from which a strong running attack by rushing is to be expected, but from which forward passing may develop (Diagram 1, p. 52).
2. Open, or kick formation, which has wider cope in rushing, notably sweeps, but which maintains inherent strength both in plunges and slants as well as forward passing (Diagram 2).
3. Loose formation, wherein one or more of the backfields are placed where they can be of better service as interferers on slant plays and also to better advantage for receiving forward passes (Diagram 3).
4. Wide formation, used by certain teams to throw defense into confusion, thus obtaining an opening for either a forward pass or a rush (Diagram 4).
We have now reached a point where it is nee-essary to consider some of the rules which govern the game. I regret this for it is dry stuff (so is law or the rules of any game) but I'll omit much and skip through the rest as briefly as possible.
Be it understood then that in the use of their weapons of attack, the offense are confined by many rules in the deployment of their players, the chief of which are that when the ball is put in play: a. At least seven men must be on the line of scrimmage.
b. Only one player may be in motion and that one under certain restrictions.
c. If a forward pass is tried, only the players on the ends of the scrimmage line, and such other players as are at least one yard or more behind the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped, are eligible to receive such pass, and further: d. The pass must be delivered from a distance of at least five yards behind said scrimmage line.
In the conduct of their players the offense are also hampered by rules which state that: a. When contact with opponents takes place, i. e., blocking and interfering, they shall not use their hands nor arms except as part of their bodies. This rule, however, does not include the player carrying the ball, usually termed the runner. An infraction of this rule constitutes holding.
b. "Thou shalt not clip, trip, nor crawl," to say nothing of minor rules whose infraction brings penalties involving the loss of distance ranging from five yards to fifteen yards.
c. "Thou shalt not fumble," roars the Coach.
These manifold and severe penalties incurring loss of distance, and fumbles causing loss of the ball, to say nothing of intercepted forward passes, create a "bugbear" for the offense. In fact it is so difficult for eleven men on the offense to conduct themselves within the many rules which confine them, with the possible loss of ball through fumbles and intercepted forward passes plus the stubbornness of the defense, that it is improbable that one team can gain in a series of plays more than thirty-five to forty yards. This fact must be seriously considered among the general principles of offense as applied to the theory of the attack.
In striking contrast to the confinement of the offense is the freedom of the defense, which may take position in any form desired, nor are they restricted in the use of their hands, except of the closed fist, in their endeavor to avoid their opponents, provided they make actual attempt to . reach the player who is carrying the ball.
To be sure, the defense as well as the offense are subject to penalty for being offside, for unnecessary roughness, and for hindering the op-ponents from catching a forward pass, unless in so doing they are making an actual attempt to catch the ball themselves; but aside from these minor restrictions they are practically immune from penalties.
However, just as there are offensive strategic principles, so the defense are governed by certain tactical axioms which must be added to the factors which cause victory or defeat (see Diagrams) .
It is quite impossible in this chapter to give a full description of offensive strategy, nor are there at all times set rules which govern the quarterback's decision, but it is well to point out a few of the salient principles on which the theory of attack is based. Although at times the reasoning is somewhat close, yet it is essential that the spectator obtain a brief outline of the subject, as without it the whys and wherefores of the various offensive manoeuvres are meaningless.
Let us, then, begin with the statement that unless the offense advance with the ball in their possession ten yards or more in four or less consecutive attempts, they must surrender the ball to the defense. Having this as the sole object, how had they best proceed to accomplish the desired result?
In the discussion which follows, it is assumed that both teams are of about equal strength in the various departments of the game. If this be true, how, then, can one team ever defeat its opponent? By errors of commission and omission which creep into the play of one or the other. An axiom which has held true for years is "Other things being equal, the team which makes the fewest mistakes usually wins." Let us at once add this to the growing list of factors which result in success or failure.