SI Vault
Mervin Hyman
September 18, 1961
The little man is in, and he brings excitement with him. Even Ohio State is promising a new offense for the new and bright recruit
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 18, 1961

Brains, Agility And A Big Game

The little man is in, and he brings excitement with him. Even Ohio State is promising a new offense for the new and bright recruit

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

"You know," he said not long ago, "the oldtimers can't understand why boys can't go 60 minutes these days. They'll sit back and tell you they used to play 60 minutes every week. But if you study the movies of football of even 10 or 15 years ago, you'll find that what they actually did was play about 30 minutes and stand around on the field the other 30 minutes. Football has progressed so much on all levels—from junior high school to professional—that it's a lot faster game than it used to be. Today, with the wide variety of defenses they throw at you, it requires boys who can think for themselves and adjust to meet various situations.

"It's impossible to anticipate all of the situations the boys are likely to encounter. And you can get whipped with confusion just as fast as with physical strength. The boys must understand your theory and what you're trying to do so they can adjust. That's why experience is so important.

"People aren't generally aware of it, but football players have improved as much in recent years as trackmen have—only you don't have as clear a yardstick to measure football players by. There's no telling where it will stop."

It certainly won't stop at Ohio State, where Woody Hayes, the father, teacher, prophet and I-told-you-so of rock-ribbed conservative tactics, is cooking up so many offensive shenanigans that he makes the upcoming season sound positively giddy. "Freer substitution," he says, "is the reason. You'll see us pass from the pocket for the first time in eight years. You'll see more passing generally because the quarterbacks will be better trained. You can take the time now with offense that you formerly had to devote to defense."

Nor will it stop at Syracuse, where Coach Ben Schwartzwalder is brewing what he describes as "a sensible mixture of cutie-pie stuff to throw the defense's keys off and give us the power we want. This is the year for deployment to bloom."

Syracuse, at any rate, will certainly bloom this year. So will Ohio State, and Kansas, Iowa, Baylor, Texas, Penn State, Mississippi and Alabama, all fine teams which, not necessarily in the order named, will be contending for national honors by late fall.

The game itself will continue to thrive on the imagination of its coaches. Again this year they will develop a wealth of offenses, from the sprightly I formation of Tom Nugent at Maryland to Jim Owens' "red eye" at Washington, the same formation that shocked Minnesota into early submission last January 2 in the Rose Bowl. Miami's Andy Gustafson has added the lonely end to his extensive wing-T repertoire; Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty a bi-line series in which every play can go right or left from a balanced or unbalanced line; and Tommy Prothro at Oregon State a wing T to go with his single wing.

The defenses

To stop the wide-open offenses, one of the favorite defenses this fall will be the wide-tackle six, a spreading line and backfield arrangement which provides greater protection at the flanks and depends upon an alert secondary to guard against the sudden pass from the back who starts wide, stops suddenly and throws the ball. But there is danger here, too. If the closeup linebackers either drift or red-dog, the line becomes vulnerable to dive plays and inside traps.

Clemson's Frank Howard, superb at building lines, favors an eight-man front with his linebackers in tight behind the six-man line, two halfbacks set wide and the safety man deep. "It keeps you from getting killed by flankers and men in motion," Howard says. "But you've got weak spots for the quick pass in the flat and down the center. You don't cover any one thing as well, but you cover anything better."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4