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There was a conference in Coach Cadeís quarters that Monday evening. The coach occupied rooms in the old-fashioned white house at the corner of Academy and State streets, opposite the main gate to the campus. His living-room was a comfortable place of faded carpet and old walnut furniture brightened by such modern things as a handsome electric lamp on the big round table, a steel filing cabinet and many books and magazines littering the apartment. To-night were present the host himself, Captain Gus Fingal, Lowell Woodruff, Johnny Barr, Pep Kinsey, Steve Whittier, Rolls Roice, Billy Frost and Charley Levering. Coach Cade, seated by the table, held several sheets of paper in one hand and a briar pipe in the other. The visitors sat around the table or adjacent to it and were respectfully attentive to the coachís words.
ďI thought,Ē Mr. Cade was saying in his quiet, pleasant voice, ďit was about time for some of us to get together and look over the ground. I asked two or three more to be present to-night, but I donít see them. Perhaps theyíll show up later.Ē
ďMy fault, Coach,Ē said Lowell. ďI couldnít get in touch with them in time.Ē
ďThen it wasnít your fault, Lowell. But there are enough of us here to discuss things, and a discussion is about all I had in mind. You see, fellows, Saturdayís game finished the half-season. From now on weíll be pointing to the Kenly game. What comes before that must be met as best it can. Our job now, and itís a big job, too, is to build up for Kenly Hall.Ē
ďDonít forget Mount Millard, Mr. Cade,Ē said Billy Frost. ďWeíve got to lick them, sir, after what they did to us last year!Ē
ďWeíll do our best, Frost, but we mustnít go out of our way much. So far, weíve come along pretty easily, fellows. Weíre fairly well grounded in the rudiments, although thereís still chance for improvement, of course, and weíve developed some team play. Now, however, weíve got to consider a plan of campaign. In doing that we must take into account our own material and Kenlyís, decide what sort of a game we are best fitted to play and what style of game we may expect from the enemy. The one outstanding feature of our team so far is speed. Weíve shown more speed than we showed at any time last year, and Iím convinced that we can show still more. I like speed, fellows, speed in starting and speed afterwards. Iíve seen a fast team win from a team that knew more football and played far smoother more than once, only because the better team Ė better theoretically, that is Ė lacked speed. The simplest plays will go well if they go fast, and the cleverest, most deceptive ones will fail if theyíre run off slow.
ďThis year weíve got a fast line and a fast backfield. We arenít quite as heavy in the line as we were either last year or the year before that, and we donít begin to have the weight in the backfield. But lack of weight can be more than offset by speed, and so itís speed and more speed that we must go after.Itís rather early to say what weíre to expect from Kenly. Sheís made a good start, but no better than our own, and hasnít had to show anything but ordinary formations and old-stock plays. But we know that sheís got most of her last yearís line back again and three or four of the backs that gave us so much trouble. Her line is heavy and her backfieldís heavy, and itís reasonable to suppose that sheíll build her game on those facts. Kenly has always favored the line-smashing game and Iíd be surprised if she changed much this year. However, weíll know more about that later.Ē
Mr. Cade studied a paper a moment. ďIt comes to this, then,Ē he resumed. ďGranted that Kenly will rely on line bucks and runs outside tackles for most of her gains, itís up to us to build a defense that will meet that style of play. Weight wonít do it, for sheíll beat us there. Sheíll go through us if we give her the start. The only way to stop her is to not let her get started. We must get the jump on her, fellows, and that means speed. If we can hold her in the line we can meet her on equal terms in other departments, I think. We may even have a slight edge on her when it comes to the kicking game. What Kenly will bring in the way of forward passes I canít say. That, too, is something weíll have to get a line on later. But she has never been dangerous with her overhead stuff. Her coach has never taken to that style of game much. But if she does develop a good passing game weíve got to meet it with the same stuff, speed. Speed, then, is going to be the big cry here this Fall. I want to impress that fact on you here and now. I want you to go away from here thinking speed, and I want you to keep right on thinking it until the last play of the Kenly game is over.
ďNow letís talk about offense a little. For the sake of argument, weíll say that weíve got the edge on Kenly for fast playing. Weíll assume that our line charges quicker than hers, that our backs get started faster and run faster, that we pull off our plays and our kicks faster. Now, then, what sort of an attack are we going to use? What style of offense are we going to build on? What do you think, Captain Fingal?Ē
ďIf weíre faster than Kenly, and speed makes up for the difference in weight, weíre starting even, arenít we?Ē
ďPossibly, yes. Weíll say so.Ē
ďThen we can play any style there is, canít we? I mean, Coach, we stand just as good a chance of making our line plays good as she does; and the same with kicks and passes and end runs.Ē
ďTrue, assuming that the teams are evenly balanced, which we are assuming. But what we want for an attack isnít something just as good, Gus, but something better. Now, suppose Ė Ē
ďIíd say we ought to dope out a passing and running game, Coach,Ē broke in Pep Kinsey. ďSomething based on speed that might take them off their feet. Say we had a formation that was good for a punt or a pass or a run outside tackle. Then suppose we put a lot of fizz into it and had them guessing what was coming. If Tom Crumbís out of the game we canít look for a whole lot against their line between tackles, I guess. I donít know how Sam Tennyson will develop, but heís light, sir, and the rest of us arenít whales. I guess youíve got the right dope, all right, when you talk speed!Ē
ďA corking good passing game is our best bet, Mr. Cade,Ē offered Levering. ďDonít you think so, sir?Ē
ďIíll tell you what I think, Levering. I think whatever we build on that thingís got to have speed underneath it. All right. Hereís speed.Ē He held a hand out, palm upward. ďNow what? What shall we put on next for a second story?Ē
There was a momentís silence. Then the quarter-back spoke eagerly. ďDeception!Ē
ďRight! Speed and deception, fellows. Thatís a tough combination to beat. And itís tougher than ever if the other fellow is slow in getting off. Kinseyís idea of a triple-threat formation is what Iíve had in mind. Thatís what we ought to have, Iím sure. Last Fall showed me one thing conclusively, and that is that having more than two formations, one for kicking and one for everything else, is a big mistake. You remember that we changed our backfield all about when we made a forward-pass. Of course, we did run from that formation now and then, but the thing was a give-away, just the same. When Kenly saw that ĎC Formationí she knew pretty well what to expect, and after the first half she looked for a pass every time and, if I remember correctly, we made just five out of fourteen attempts. This year I propose that we find a formation for the backs that will answer every purpose of attack, even punting. When we decide on that weíll build our plays on the formation instead of suiting the formation to the plays.Ē
ďThat sounds good,Ē said Gus. ďOnly I donít just see how itís to be done. If we place our backs too far behind the line we canít get them through on quick openings. If we put Steve too close he wonít be able to get punts off before Kenly gets on top of him.Ē
ďAs for the latter,Ē said Coach Cade, ďI donít agree. Remember, Gus, weíre building on speed. If Steve gets his kicks off a bit quicker than he does now he can kick from nearer the line.Ē
ďBesides,Ē said Pep, ďhow is Kenly going to know that it is a kick if Steve doesnít go back? Seems to me thatís the beauty of it. Keep íem guessing every minute! Hot stuff!Ē
ďWeíll take up the matter of that formation later,Ē said the coach. ďJust now thereís another thing I want to talk about. What kind of a passing game can we work out? I have my own idea, but Iíd like to hear from you.Ē
ďWhatever it is, itís got to be a heap better than last yearís,Ē said Rolls Roice. ďAs you said, Coach, they were looking for our tosses every time toward the last and they didnít go for a hang. If Kenly had had the sense to grab the ball sometimes instead of knocking it down sheíd have licked us worse than she did.Ē
ďThereís one thing about the passing game,Ē said the coach. ďIf you canít have a good one youíre better off with none. And having a good one isnít so easy. You can plan it out on paper so that it looks like a world-beater, but if your ends and backs canít reach the ball and handle it perfectly, your planís a fizzle. You didnít have much luck last year, Pep, and neither did Knowles or Suydman. Catches were mighty few, even when there was a fair chance. Iím not saying this in criticism of you, but just to emphasize the fact that itís the individual player who counts in the passing game, and that if weíre to show anything in that line, anything worth while, weíve got to go into the business in real earnest. Half the value of the forward pass is in keeping the opponent scared. If you have a passing game and he knows it, heís looking for it more than half the time. But youíve got to really have something. If you havenít, he soon discovers it and pulls his backfield in. Just as long as youíve got the goods, even if you donít deliver them, he will play a fifth man back and weaken his line by just so much. That fifth man is almost invariably the center, and a quick plunge at the center position will usually gain. Personally, I think that no one has yet discovered nearly all the possibilities of the forward-pass as an offensive play. I believe that, unless a change in the playing rules comes that will place restrictions on the pass, another five years will see the old line-plunging game subordinated to it. But Iím getting away from the business of this gathering.
ďSuppose you fellows put your minds to work along the lines suggested this evening. Start with the fact that, no matter what else we have when we meet Kenly, weíre going to have speed, and lots of it. Then try to think of the best way to use that speed on attack. Iíll take care of using it for defense. Figure out a Ė let us call it an all-purpose formation, a formation from which we can hit the line, run the ends, punt and pass. Itís possible. Iím not certain that the Princeton formation doesnít come pretty close to it except as to punting. Anyhow, put your minds to work, fellows, and see what comes of it. Weíll get together again Wednesday evening here, and weíll try to get more of the team on hand. Remind me about that, Mister Manager, and Iíll tell you who I want here that evening.Ē
ďShucks,Ē said Charley Levering, ďI never could dope out plays. On paper, I mean.Ē
ďAs long as you dope them out on the field weíll be satisfied,Ē replied Mr. Cade. ďIím not looking for plays from you, Levering. We can find plenty of those when weíre ready for them. What I want is ideas. You know the team and you know pretty well what its merits are and what its faults are. Credit it with speed. You can do that fairly enough, for Iíll say frankly that you fellows look mighty good to me at that angle. Then try to think up the sort of game we can best play to make full use of that speed. Never mind trick plays and all that sort of thing. Those will come later. Consider the Kenly game as a campaign and decide how, if you were the General in command of our Army, youíd conduct it. Not as to detail. A General canít foresee the skirmishes, sometimes not even the battles. The best he can do is plan. Iím hoping that some of you will bring ideas that will help in determining our campaign. Two heads are better than one, you know, and so eight ought to be still better. Now, if any one likes Swiss cheese, made in Wisconsin, and pilot bread and ginger ale, weíll blow the whistle!Ē