The T Formation Plays, The Off-Tackle Play Comparison series, is a review of various T Formation playbooks / books and how coaches develop T Formation running plays. I have about 20 T Formation Plays to review and compare form many old T Offense books from the 1940s and 1950s. The Off-Tackle play is often considered the bread-and-butter play of power running offenses like the T.
The basic T Formation is a 4 back formation with a Quarterback under Center, a fullback about 3 to 4 yards behind the QB and two halfbacks about 3 to 4 yards next to the FB in tight or wide to the offensive tackles. Many call the T Formation in this variation the Full House T, because all of the RBs are in the backfield behind the QB who is under Center. The Full House T Variations are the ones we will focus on for this youth football coaching blog post.
T Formation Plays, The Off-Tackle Play
The T Formation was introduced at Yale by Walter Camp in the mid to late 1880s. Many colleges ran the T Formation at that time and it was called the Regular Formation.
Below is Pop Warner’s version of the T Formation and the Off-Tackle play. His T version like many were not run under Center until around the 1920s or so. His FB was also offset in the front of the HBs a foot or so instead of back like most other T Formations.
Pop Warner is credited for the development of the Single Wing and Double Wing. Jim Thorpe played for Pop Warner at the Carlisle Indian School. Coach Pop Warner coached football from 1895 to 1939. At the time, only Alonzo Stagg had coached longer.
This is Fielding Yost’s T Off-Tackle play in the T Formation Plays series. I assumed his QB was under Center but not certain. He pitches to the 2 HB and the other backs lead or push the ball carrier through the scrum. Yost was Head Coach at at Michigan from 1901 to 1926. He could be the grandfather of the Hurry Up Offense.
Robert Zuppke was the Head Coach of The University of Illinois 1913 until 1941. He was a huge influence on early football running a coaches school during the summers. He is considered a great football strategist. In this Off-Tackle play Zuppke runs more of an option type play with QB continuing down the line vs a Belly back, Spin or Drop-back like many older T Formation plays.
Bobby Dodd coached football for Georgia Teach from 1931-1966. He was the HC starting in 1945. He was considered by many as one of the best sideline coaches on the field. In this Off-tackle play, the FB is the ball carrier and the QB uses a Belly action back to give the FB the football after faking to the 2 back and then carries out a fake sweep after the FB Dive. Many T Formation plays rely on a good Fullback.
Below is the Chicago Bear’s T Formation from the 1940s developed by George Halas and Clark Shaughnessy. Coach Shaughnessy is considered by most to be the Father of the Modern T Formation. The Wider Ends and Man in Motion brought the Old Dead T to life. This “spread-out concept” helped teams running the T Formation run edge plays and open up the passing game. Many of today’s football formations can trace back to this T Variation.
Once again this is a FB Off-Tackle play. The 3 HB goes in motion with the 2 HB faking into the line to pick up the linebacker. The QB Belly’s back or drops back to the FB for the handoff. Notice the Ends are split out more than a traditional old T formation.
Below are the T Formation plays resources that helped me write this article.
T Formation / Offense Resources
- A Course in Football for Players & Coaches – Pop Warner – 1912
- Football Technique and Tactics – Robert C. Zuppke – Bailey & Himes – 1924
- The Modern T Formation with Man-in-Motion – Shaughnessy/Jones/Halas – 1946
- Championship Football – Dana X Bible – Prentice-Hall 1947
- Notre Dame Football – The T Formation – Leahy – Prentice-Hall 1949
- Oklahoma Split T Football – Wilkinson – Prentice-Hall 1952
- Coaching Football and the Split T Formation – Tatum/Giese – WMC Brown 1953
- Michigan State Multiple Offense – Munn – Prentice-Hall 1953
- Bobby Dodd on Football – Dodd – Prentice-Hall 1954
- Football at Ohio State – Woody Hayes – Ohio State – 1957
- Offensive Football – The Belly Series – Olivar -1958
- The Split T in High School – George – Prentice-Hall 1958
- Football Principles & Play – Nelson – Ronald 1962
- The Explosive Short-T – Homer Rice – Prentice-Hall 1963
- Power T Football – Smith / Andros – Parker Publishing 1971
- Complete Guide to Football’s Option Attacks – Tallman – Parker Publishing – 1977
- American Football How the Game Evolved – Herget – 2013
- Evolution of the Game – Chronicle of American Football – Francisco – 2016
- Power T Football
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Do you run youth T Formation plays? Is the Off-tackle play your favorite power run play? What youth football offense do you use for your pee wee football team? Is there an offensive formation you would like me to draw up for another youth football plays ebook in pdf? Let me know.
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