THE defense resemble a spiral spring with the goal line as its base. The greater the compression, the stronger the resistance. In spite of this truism this play gained nine yards straight through the heart of a strong defense.
The runner, who received the ball from another player while faking a forward pass pierced the scrimmage line at a point just inside the player lying at full length on his stomach.
The second line of defense (the middle one of the three players sitting on the ground) was completely overpowered by two interferers, and the runner is now seen still ploughing along dragging No. 2 defense after him. No. 1 defense finally brought him to earth on the four yard line, making a first down for the defense. From this point the defense stiffened to such an extent that it took four tries to reach the goal line. See Plate XXVIII.
Harvard vs. Yale 1921.
On the other hand, it is argued that the backs should be so placed that at least four are capable of alternating in the running attack, threatening a more varied attack from a regular formation. By this formation more effective interference can be brought to bear at different points, and greater weight is added to the backfield. This school of reasoning maintains that there is no more fumbling under this arrangement than when the ball goes through the quarterback; but they fail to recognize the terrible disaster which a mistake in signals entails. If it so happens that the backs start, or the center passes in the wrong direction, the ball probably goes through the entire backfield and rolls merrily towards the offensive team's goal line with little chance of recovery.
Other questions which may well be decided at this time are: - Whether to play one defensive player or two in the extreme backfield to handle punts. The employment of two men lessens the danger of losing the ball, but at the same time weakens the second line of defense. Shall the defensive ends sacrifice themselves to break up the interference well back of the line of scrimmage, or shall they keep their feet, merely hamper the speed of the play, and endeavor themselves to tackle the runner? Shall the defensive formations of the team be ordered by signal or left to the application of a few general rules?
These considerations merely indicate how much preliminary spade-work must be done; and can best be done in the summer. When the season begins, the wise coach has already decided on a definite outline of his entire autumn campaign.