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The 50's: line quarterbacking situation blocking at its best.

Changing defenses are the nightmare alleys of offensive football. The modern defense is seldom static. It shifts like sand--looping, charging, slanting, undershifting, overshifting, with line patterns changing from five to six or from six to four, etc.



Coaches cannot depend upon divine providence or their players' ingenuity to cope with the problem. It's simply too tough for makeshift counter measures. You need a plan, a definite system of adjustment.

Various schemes have been concocted to meet this menace. But none of these, I believe can do the job as soundly, efficiently, and simply as my triple line quarterbacking system at Adelphi College.

Based on the use of three auxiliary quarterbacks in the line, it offers a system of line blocking that can adjust to and handle any defensive alignment on any given play. It represents situation blocking at its best, and actually gives the offensive linemen several ways to open a hole, regardless of the defense that confronts them.




The system is simple to operate, reduces the margin of error to zero, and affords the best possible blocking angles and method of adjustability extant.

Before presenting the substance of my system, I believe a word on our basic formation is in order.

We use a balanced-line T formation with specific unvarying splits between linemen. The guards split 22 inches from the center, while the tackles and ends split a yard out from the men next to them. The halves set up four yards directly back of the tackles and the fullback deploys four and a half yards to the rear of the center. I'd like to repeat: These splits never vary.

The same consistency is observed in our hole numbering. We number our holes between and outside the offensive linemen (Diag. 1). This offensive hole numbering, coupled with our line quarterbacking, gives us a huge advantage in that it solidifies the point of attack. No defensive maneuver can force us to change it. This claim cannot be made by teams that number the defensive holes.

Thanks to this system, our backs do not have to adjust their movements to changing defenses. They run their assignments according to the backfield series called by the T quarterback. The linemen do the rest.

We run our backs in series, with each series embodying a different pattern for the backs. For example, our 1 series is the basic Split T pattern sometimes called the halfback handoff series (Diag. 2).

Our plays are numbered in three digits. The first number denotes the backfield series, such as 1: the second number indicates the ball-carrier, such as 2: and the third number denotes the hole or point of attack, such as 3. A 123 play, for example, would be a handoff to the right half between tackle and guard.

When the play is called in the huddle, the linemen listen for the last number--denoting the hole through which the play is going. They have no assignments until they reach the line of scrimmage. There they receive their assignments from the offensive line quarterbacks.

We have three such quarterbacks, as shown, in Diag. 3. Our left tackle is the quarterback for the 9, 8, and 7 holes; our center is the quarterback for the 6 and 4 holes; and the right tackle controls the final three holes--3, 2, and 1.

These three line quarterbacks have five different calls at their disposal, denoting blocking patterns that can handle any defensive set-up. These calls--which will be explained as we go along--are S, C, ST, CT, and SO.

Let's assume we're running the 131 play. The last of the three digits--1--tells us that we're hitting hole number 1. Our right tackle is the quarterback for this hole, and its up to him to determine which of the five calls can best handle the defensive set-up at the hole.

Three of them or maybe only two may be workable against this particular set-up. In any light, the line quarterback will always have at least one call that will afford the men at the hole good blocking conditions. The point to remember is that the line quarterback's call always determines the blocking pattern.

After the play has been called in the huddle, the linemen set up on the line in their splits with their hands on their knees, feet parallel, heads and eyes forward, in a crouched position.

The point of attack having been determined in the huddle, the three quarterbacks now make their calls. But only one of these calls is significant, and that is the one made by the line quarterback for the hole under attack.

We have the left tackle call first, our center next, then our right tackle. We have the left tackle call first because more plays are run to the right than to the left, and the right tackle can use the extra seconds to look over the defense. After the calls have been made, the T quarterback puts the lineman down in the ready position.

The class do not depend on the overall defensive alignment but rather on the position, size, and ability of the defensive men at the point of attack.

All right now, let's see just how the system operates. As I have repeatedly said, the right tackle is the quarterback for the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 holes. At the first two holes, he works with a backfield man, the right end, and the right guard.

In our 1 series, as shown in Diag. 2, the backfield man in question is the fullback. He becomes our outside man at the 1 and 2 holes. As you may note in Diag. 4, our right end is the second man, our right tackle is the third man, and our right guard is the fourth man at the hole.

Let me state right now that we consider any defensive man within five yards of the scrimmage line as a defensive lineman. We don't differentiate between defensive linebackers and defensive lineman in our blocking situations--they are all considered defensive linemen.

Now let me repeat the five types of calls available to our line quarterbacks--S, C, ST, CT, and SO.

If our right tackle calls S, everyone concerned at the 1 hole, namely the fullback, right end, right tackle, and right guard, blocks straight ahead. Diag. 5 shows this in action against a 5-3 and 6-3 set-up. For our backs (in this case the fullback), straight ahead means taking the outside defensive lineman at the hole.

Our back at the 1 and 2 holes always blocks straight ahead unless he hears a call with a T in it, like ST or CT. When he hears these calls, at the 1 and 2 holes, he must block the second defensive man in from the outside--the player next to the outside opponent. Diag. 6 demonstrates the back's blocking at the 1 and 2 holes on these calls.






If the right tackle were to call C, the outside man (fullback in this case) would block straight ahead. As I said before, he always blocks straight ahead unless he hears a call with a T involved. He'll then take the second defensive man in.

On any C call, the 2 and 3 men at the hole--right end and right tackles--exchange their normal S call assignments. This is shown in Diag. 7.

The right end and right tackle know that the fullback will always take the outside man unless he hears a call with a T. They know that when he hears a call with a T, he'll take the second opponent in from the outside and that one of them will have to take his man--the outside opponent.




Hence when the call ST is given, the right end knows that whereas on a normal S he'd take the second man in, the addition of T means that fullback will take the second man and that he must now take the outside man. This is clearly shown in Diag. 8.

Diag. 9 shows how the principle works for the CT call. The normal C call tells the right tackle he has the second man in. The addition of T making the call CT signifies that the fullback will now take the second man in leaving the outside man for the right tackle.

Our No. 4 man at the hole--the right guard at the 1 and 2 holes--always blocks straight ahead.

Diag. 10 demonstrates how we run the 1 hole in our 1 series, using the four aforementioned calls (S, ST, C, CT) against the same defense.






These calls are also workable at the 2 hole, and involve the same four men. The only difference is that we're opening the 2 hole instead of closing it.






Diag. 11 shows our quarterback keep off the 1 series at the 2 hole, or, as we'd call it in the huddle, the 142 play.

All this presents a picture of how we like to run our 1 hole off our 1, or halfback handoff, series. We can very easily use the fullback as a flanker and get the same results.

Now I'd like to show you how our 1 hole can be run off another series, namely our 2, or fullback handoff, series. On this series the right halfback takes the place of the fullback at the 1 and 2 holes; and the left half replaces the fullback at the 9 and 8.


Diag. 12 illustrates our 2 series. The play at the 1 hole of this series is called play 231. Our right half can be used from normal position or as a flanker.

Diag. 13 outlines play 231 with S blocking. (Note that our quarterback uses a reverse pivot here.)

Diag. 14 shows how the 3, or handoff, hole is controlled by No. 1, the right end; No. 2, the right tackle; No. 3, the right guard; and No. 4, the center. This and the corresponding 7 hole are our handoff holes.

The 3 hole is line quarterbacked by the right tackle, and the principles used at the 1 and 2 holes are now observed with different men. The right end is now the No. 1 man at the hole in place of the backfield man (fullback.)

Diag. 15 shows the four calls in action at the 3 hole, while Diag. 16 shows a 123 handoff with a C and CT call. Note that at the 3 hole, the center becomes the fourth man at the hole and thus always blocks straight ahead.

The 4 hole is controlled by No. 1, the right tackle; No. 2, the right guard; No. 3, the center; and No. 4, the left guard. This is delineated in Diag. 17. I feel that this hole and the corresponding 6 hole offer the offense more advantages than any other point of attack in a balanced line T.

The splitting of guards to a constant 22 inches and the line quarterbacking of our center at this hole gives the offense tremendous advantages that normal defenses cannot possibly cope with. The offense is offered by a very fine double team at these holes, and packed defenses have difficulty controlling the offense here because once the ball-carrier pops through the defensive linemen there's no safety to stop him.

Diag. 18 shows how we run our 4 hole off our 1 series. The particular play is our 154. Note the four men who are in action at the hole, and that the No. 4 man, the left guard, is always blocking straight ahead at the 4 hole.

The 9, 8, 7, and 6 holes are controlled in the same manner, working in from the opposite side.

So far I have accounted for four of the five calls. How about SO? This is a call that's used very sparingly and then only at the 3 and 7 holes. It informs our handoff men that they are to run their patterns just outside the offensive tackles. A tremendous help against certain types of defenses, it is outlined (as used in our 1 series) in Diag. 19.

Now, let's reverse our field a bit. I'm sure that many of you coaches are wondering how we run our fullback in the 2 hole off our 1 series.

We call this our 152 play, and Diag. 20 shows the backfield pattern of the 1 series with the quarterback faking a handoff to the right half and then handing off to the full (No. 5 back) who hits through the 2 hole.

It's quite obvious that when the fullback is carrying the ball we cannot use him as a blocker. It's here that our No. 4 man at the hole, our right guard, comes into very valuable use.

As stated before, our No. 4 man at any hole always blocks straight ahead. But there is one exception. This is when the fullback carries the ball at the 2 and 8 holes off our 1 series. We tell our right guard (the No. 4 man at the hole) that any time the fullback carries the ball through the 2 hole off our 1 series, he (guard) must take the fullback's place in blocking.

That means the right guard must, on any C or S call, take the outside defensive lineman; and that he must, on any call involving a T, such as ST or CT, take the second defensive lineman from the outside.

This is illustrated in Diag. 21. The dive of the right half compensates for the use of our right guard. The former, after carrying out his fake, drives into the man that the right guard would normally take on a straight-ahead block.

Diag. 22 furnishes a picture of the 152 with different calls (C and ST) in effect. It must be remembered that this blocking pattern applies only at the 2 and 8 holes when the fullback carries the ball off our 1 series. (It should be understood that at the 8 hole, the left guard takes the place of the fullback in blocking.)

From the foregoing, it's easy to understand how numerous backfield series can be added to our attack without encumbering our linemen. Our situation blocking will accommodate any new backfield series--it won't be necessary for our linemen to learn any new assignments. All they have to do--at any time--is work on the efficiency and timing of their S, C, ST, CT, and SO assignments.

To make sure you've got the basic principles firmly in mind, here's a capsule review of the five basic calls:

S -- all four men at the hole block straight ahead.

C -- Nos. 1 and 4 block straight ahead, Nos. 2 and 3 exchange assignments.

ST -- Nos. 1 and 2 exchange assignments, Nos. 3 and 4 block straight ahead.

CT -- No. 1 takes No. 2's man, No. 2 takes No. 3's man, No. 3 takes No. 1's man, No. 4 blocks straight ahead.

SO -- Same as S, but ball-carrier must go outside the offensive tackle.

Perhaps the youngest college football coach in America, 22-year-old Al Davis is already in his second year of coaching at Adelphi College (Garden City, Long Island, NY). A brilliant student of the game, Al designed the unique line quarterbacking system outlined in his article. Line quarterbacking is a comparatively new development, and Davis's verson of it is unmatched for soundness and practicality. Al has made many command appearances before outstanding coaches and their enthusiasm for his brainchild augurs widespread popularity for it.

(Originally published in the May 1952 issue)

By AL DAVIS, Line Coach, Adelphi College (Garden City, N. Y.)




















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Title Annotation:Professional football
Author:Davis, Al
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Previous Article:The 40's: individual defense.
Next Article:The 60's: multi-stage passing action.

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