Head scratcher of the day

From ESPN’s Big Ten blog:

Adam Rittenberg: So, [Brian] Bennett, we meet again. Good starts for both the Irish and the Wolverines on Saturday, and it should be a great one in South Bend. Let’s talk offense. What do you think Knute Rockne and Fielding Yost would say about these two systems matching up?

Brian Bennett: I think both coaches would have spit in a leather helmet in disgust. What’s the over/under on total number of snaps under center on Saturday? Five?

Er, both Yost and Knute Rockne made extensive use of the shotgun.

Why do people think the shotgun is new?

  • ESPN’s Institutional Stupidity

    ESPN’s College blogs are terrible. The bloggers main job seems to be news aggregation as most of their posts are links to local papers. When they try to do analysis its embarrassing. I check the ACC one occasionally, and based on its content it doesn’t surprise me that the Big 10 is no better.

  • Matthew

    Well, Ted Miller does seem to have a function beyond news aggregation: he panders to Pac-10 readers by slamming the SEC and its fanbases at regular intervals.

  • Mike

    I think it’s at least partially because a lot of commentators are just incredibly ignorant about football’s history. Coaches tend to be well-versed in football history, and some viewers are as well, but many football players are not, and most analysts are former players. Add in the hide-bound mental conservatism that characterizes the entirety of the sport and you’ve got a picture of history that assumes that everything looked like rugby until the forward pass was invented, then the game morphed into a pure pro-style offense until the 2000s when those dastardly Communists invented the spread.

  • LOL.. so true! The shot gun snap is a (if not ‘the’) cornerstone of early offensive tactics in the game of American Football.

  • Ted Seay

    >Er, both Yost and Knute Rockne made extensive use of the shotgun.

    Well, no — as the Yost link makes clear. Yost ran a pre-1905 T formation, with the QB accepting a snap either rolled or gently tossed a foot or two back by the center. When the rules changed, he simply moved the QB directly up under center, as did his great rival, Amos Alonzo Stagg of Chicago U.

    For Rockne, you can probably change “extensive” to “exclusive” — I don’t believe he ever ran anything other than Jesse Harper’s Notre Dame Box direct-snap (“shotgun”)formation.

  • >I don’t believe he ever ran anything other than Jesse Harper’s Notre Dame Box direct-snap (“shotgun”) formation.*

    * Slight caveat: The Irish shifted into the Box from a full T formation, and very, very occasionally would snap the ball from under center — but the key to Rockne’s success before the rules were changed in the early 20’s to kill his “jump shift” was the rapid movement by the backfield from a balanced T to the Box aligned strong right or left.

  • Ted: If you look at Yost’s playbook near the back, he shows on several pages the “direct pass” formation, showing plays where the QB or HB takes a “direct pass from center,” i.e. shotgun. Also I think some folks on mgoblog pulled up some shotgun clips in the past, though I don’t have them in front of me.

    Yost clearly focused on the T but the ‘gun was in his arsenal.

  • zlionsfan

    I think it’s a combination of factors. Part of it is the tendency that people have to ignore history: sometimes people don’t seem to remember that most of the sports they watch have a long, long history. Part of it is people having to post fairly often and seemingly not appreciating what that requires … it seems like there are times when some writers just throw a bunch of words into a text box and post them without really thinking.

    I think ESPN’s approach doesn’t help either. It’s kind of silly that the “leader” has a single guy assigned to post about 11 teams when there are single-team blogs like mgoblog that far exceed ESPN’s apparent ability to cover those teams. It’s not just a Big Ten thing either, I would guess: I don’t read blogs from other conferences (although I probably should), but I’m sure they’re out there. We want more detailed news and analysis, not short blurbs and links.

  • Chris: Yes, but — that book is pre-forward pass, so to say that Yost made “extensive use of the shotgun” is misleading at best.

    And yes, I CAN pick nits with the best.


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