A brief discussion of the various football systems, is presented in the following article written for the "Crimson" by Richard C. Harlow; Varsity Coach.
Through the long development of the game of football there have come three methods of advancing the ball, namely, kicking, passing, and running. Any one of these can be stopped by defensive measures. As the threat of all three increases, the problem of the defense becomes increasingly difficult.
Out of the maze of various systems which have been employed there have developed three general types of play, or so-called formations, which have done much to make the game increasingly interesting. These are generally known as the kick formation, the wingback formation, and the Notre Dame formation.
Kick Formation Balanced
The kick formation has one man placed from six to ten yards behind the line of scrimmage, the remaining backs being aligned usually two to the right and one to the left, with the ends usually removed laterally from the tackles to allow them to get down the field more easily. The formation is well balanced. It is ideal for passing because of the fact that the ends and backs can both get in the open quickly, while the passer is in excellent position to look the field over carefully. It is not as strong against the tackles as the other two formations because none of the backs are in position to quickly flank the defensive tackle or end. If a back is placed thus, the formation immediately loses its balance. It is, however, by far the best arrangement for playing a kicking game as a threat to keep one back out of the secondary defense, and gain a from it are very likely to be of appreciable distance. It is used by practically all teams in conjunction with one or more of the other formations.
Wingback Can Be Varied
The wingback formations have many variations. The line may be balanced or unbalanced; the ends close or loose, and the wing may be inside or outside the offensive end. Probably the strongest running attacks in the history of football have come from these wingback formations either single or double. The double wingback consists of two of the backs being used as flankers instead of but one. The single wingback permits an extremely heavy concentration of the offensive team at the point of attack because the backs are all placed on one side of center. These wingback formations are very strong for reverses, spinners, and off tackle plays but the plays to the short side require much precise timing. With the running attack working, however, terrific pressure is exerted on every sector of the defensive alignments.
Notre Dame Strong Type
The Notre Dame formation is a variation of the single wingback with a balanced line and a shift hiding the strength until the last possible moment. In this formation, however, the backs are placed in a semi square, rather than a Z. The position of the fullback makes it strong on end runs and short side plays. It is strong in all departments but exceptionally strong ends are required as the blocking of the tackles by them without help is one of the primary requisites.
Bucking Less Dangerous
In general as the line widens laterally in all formations, bucking becomes less dangerous, until we have the extreme case of the well known spreads where the running strength is negligible. As the attacking formation congests, the threat of passing becomes less dangerous. This constant struggle for the balance of power between offense and defense is one of the fascinating phases of football to its friends
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