This section is from the book "A Scientific And Practical Treatise On American Football For Schools And Colleges", by A. Alonzo Stagg, Henry L. Williams. Don't miss: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.
Before passing on to consider the following plays, a few words of explanation will be necessary.
The side of attack in every instance, when in their regular positions, will be represented by the solid dots (• • •), and the side acting on the defensive by rings (O O O). When it is desired to represent a player in a position other than that which he originally occupies the figures 0 O O will be used. The broken line (--------------------) will represent the course of the ball in the pass and the direction taken by the runner who receives it.
A simple dotted line (-----------) will be used to indicate that a player is to follow the runner with the ball, while the solid line (----------------) indicates that the man shall pass in front to act as a line-breaker or interferer. The arrows indicate the direction which the players shall take.
The men represented by the letters given in the diagrams are as follows : c, indicates the center; q b, the quarter-back; rh, lh, re, and le, the right and left half-backs and right and left ends respectively; the right and left tackles are indicated by r t and l t; while f-b represents the full-back.
It must be distinctly understood that the drawings are in a measure diagramatical and do not in all instances represent accurately the relative distance between the players.
For example: in the diagramatical representation, wide spaces are left between the individual men in the rush line, while as a matter of fact, when the game is in progress, the rushers stand so closely together that they can easily touch one another and are frequently placed shoulder to shoulder. This manner of representation has been decided upon as conducive to greater clearness in showing the relative positions and directions where a number of men are obliged to pass through one opening, and in case the beginner is misled by this in any way, his error will be readily corrected by careful study in other parts of the book.
In arranging the positions of the side acting upon the defensive, the quarter-back has been placed immediately behind one of the tackles while a half-back has been brought forward and stationed behind the other tackle. The abilities of the two half-backs should determine which position they shall occupy; the points to be considered being the ability to catch the ball when it is kicked, and the qualification for meeting the heavy tackling in the line.
Sometimes it is preferable upon the third down, or when the ball is to be kicked, that the half-back stationed behind the tackle should immediately return to his proper position. At all other times the quarter-back and half-back usually remain directly behind their respective tackles as indicated, after the ball is snapped, until it becomes clearly apparent through which one of the openings the opposing side is to make their attack, and then to spring forward directly into this breach and meet the oncoming runner in the line.
This is considered a safer and more powerful defense than to have either one of these men attempt to break through, in the hope of meeting the runner behind his own iine before he reaches the opening, and is the method adopted by the leading college football teams in the country. When opposed to a team using the running game almost altogether, both half-backs may be sent forward to support the line, the full-back alone remaining well behind the line for safety.
It will be noticed that the ends upon the side acting on the offense are placed near the tackles and are drawn slightly back from the line. We believe that the ends are in the strongest possible position for an attack in any direction when they stand about a yard and a half from the tackles, and about a yard back from the line. From this position they are of equal value in blocking, should the play be made around their end, while in plays through the center and around the opposite end, their position back from the line enables them to get into the play with far greater rapidity, and wellnigh doubles their efficiency. From a position in the line the running of the end, with the ball, which may be made a powerful play, would be extremely difficult.
Nearly every diagram represents two plays or more, and it should be borne in mind that, whereas in the diagram a play may be represented as made to the left, the same play may also be made to the right, and vice versa.
In representing the arrangement of the men in the wedges and in the opening plays from the center of the field, the formation is given which in the majority of cases would seem to be most advantageous. But this arrangement need not be considered fixed and may be changed at the discretion of the captain.
For special reason, too, it may in some instances seem best to alter the arrangement of the interference so that the positions of the preceding and following runners shall be interchanged. When there is sufficient reason for doing so, there should be no hesitation in making the alteration. When nothing is said as to duties of a player in the description of the diagrams, it will be understood that the player blocks his man.