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.
The captain must weigh all these possibilities before making his decision.
The great advantage in the wind does not consist alone in the increased distance the ball can be propelled, but also in the increased likelihood that some one upon the side which kicked will again secure the ball on a muff or fumble. The wind has added to the problem of the player who attempts to catch the ball these points of difficulty: greater distance covered by the ball, an increased speed, and a greater probability that the ball will suddenly veer to one side or the other from the line of direction.
The increased advantage of a favoring wind is in direct proportion to the strength of the wind. If the wind is very strong, the side which does not have its assistance is severely handicapped, and for the time is not able to do any effective kicking. Even with the best punters, it is impossible to drive the ball far in the face of a strong wind, and then the kick must be low or the wind is likely to blow it back near the spot from which it was kicked. On the other hand, when kicking for distance with the wind, it is usually better to kick the ball high, in order that the wind may affect it more powerfully during the longer interval of time in rising and falling.
There is also an economic reason for kicking the ball whenever it can be wisely done. It is a good way to rest the backs in order to save them for the supreme effort of carrying the ball across the line; for, if the ball has been carried for a considerable distance, they will be likely to be somewhat fatigued as they approach the goal line, and they will be weakest where and when the opposing side always puts in their most determined and desperate resistance.
It is a severe test of a team's courage to bear up against a kicking game in the face of a strong wind; for, even if they are able to make good gains in return by running, the players are constantly fearing a slip or fumble, which will give the ball back to the other side only to have it returned with all the chances of a mis-play, if not a gain in ground. The effect of the wind also is to make the side against it think that they are working very much harder than their opponents just to hold their own.
There is no question as to the value of having every member of the team able to run with the ball when it is 17 possible and wise. The more varied the style of play, provided it is strong, or is likely to be successful because unlooked for, the more powerful would be the plan of attack and the less effective the defense. This is true for two reasons: first, it keeps the opposing team constantly guessing as to what the play will be and enables the side with the ball to secure advantages through the variety of its play; second, it distributes the labor and secures the advantage of fresh strength, while it rests the main ground-gainers. For these reasons, then, it is well worth the while to run the guards, tackles, and ends, although these are not in as advantageous positions for gaining ground as are the half-backs and full-back.
The most valuable of the three rush-line positions for ground gaining is the tackle, because from that position the runner can get under sufficient speed to carry him forward against opposition, and he can also secure the most protection and help. The run also can be made in the quickest time and without being immediately noticed.
The end position, when the end plays behind the line and near the tackle, comes next in value of the line positions for running with the ball, because of the large number of interferers ahead. If rightly played by a fast runner, the end will be able to make good advances between the tackle and end, and even around the end on the other side.
The guard is in the hardest rush-line position for advancing the ball, because it is impossible for him to get under speed when making a quick turn around the quarter-back, and on the other hand he cannot afford to run out to the end, because he would be sure to be tackled whether he ran close to the line with little interference, or ran farther back with better interference but with greater risk of loss of ground.