"When Saturday Mattered Most", by Mark Beech - an illustrated review..

Discussion in 'Sports Zone' started by dwmyers, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    This is an book by Sports Illustrated's Mark Beech on the 1958 Cadets. I was generally pleased by the book, by the writing, by the interviews that peppered the book, and by the amount of football history you could drag out of the book.


    A common defense by 1958 was the 5-4 Oklahoma. Why 5-4, when there were two cornerbacks and two linebackers? Well, remember that most teams didn't split ends wide in 1958, and against a Power T with ends split like they would be in the 1940s and through a lot of the 1950s, the Oklahoma would look like this:


    As close as the cornerbacks were, they might as well have been linebackers, with a de facto nine man front. The contain scheme of the era was called the "four spoke", and if you draw a hafl circle through the cornerbacks and the safeties, the players were supposed to rotate along that spoke towards the flow of the play. The radius of the circle was supposed to expand, if it were a pass, and contract if it were an inside run. The contain team was never to let a player get outside the spoke, or ever let a player get past the spoke.

    So, then, Red Blaik came up with the Lonely End formation. And for all of 1958 it broke down the "four spoke", as teams reacted a bit like this:


    The cornerback was too far away to contain runs. And when Earl Blaik's guys couldn't run wide, his halfbacks were good passers and they would throw over the safety's head.

    The answer is known by a lot of names. In the book, they call it an "inverted rotation." It is referred to as an overshifted secondary by Bud Wilkinson, and others call it a monster or rover defense. In this kind of coverage, the safety on the strong side of the formation positions himself about 3 yards behind the LOS and 4-5 yards outside the wingback. He plays a hybrid technique, and preserves the run integrity of the defense, as well as pass defense in the flats. It is a de facto eight in the box defense..


    I'd never seen a date for the "Monster", but Homer Smith, interviewed in the book, says he saw it first in 1958.
    That's about 9 years after the Oklahoma is known to have been played.

    Anyway, enjoyed the book, enjoyed the history a lot. There is a Kindle edition, so it doesn't weight much, and you can keep it handy.

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  2. Blast From The Past

    Blast From The Past Well-Known Member

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    I find this to be very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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