Some of the fall's biggest football upsets are prepared on the playing fields of spring. Recently SI's Herman Hickman visited the University of Miami, where he found Coach Gustafson readying a surprise—he hopes—for Notre Dame.
It may seem slightly incongruous to baseball fans to talk football just as the baseball season is getting under way, but on hundreds of college campuses across the country spring football practice holds sway. The NCAA has limited practice to 20 days within a 36-day period, so most of the colleges have waited rather late to start in order to get the best weather possible for the abbreviated workouts. However, this is not the case with my old West Point coaching compatriot, Andy Gustafson, down at the University of Miami. Recently I watched the windup of his spring campaign. It was an intra-squad game played in the Orange Bowl before 10,000 paying customers.
The coaches had divided the squad equally for the game. Each group had its own coaching staff, there were regular officials, different uniforms, a between-halves band and, yes, even dancing girls. The players did nothing to detract from this illusion. The backs, to a man, ran hard and well. The large linemen moved with a catlike grace. But the thing which impressed me most was the spirited play of both squads. The undertone was practically audible: "Just wait until we get Notre Dame down here!" That will be on the night of October 7th.
THE GAME GUS COULDN'T LOSE
April 11, 1955
It seemed natural to be sitting with Gus once again high atop a stadium, with the telephones to the bench in front of us. We had performed this chore together for five years at West Point as Colonel Blaik's assistants. It was our duty to spot the opposition's defensive alignments, suggest plays to work against these defenses, ascertain as soon as possible weaknesses or faults in our own defensive scheme and recommend personnel changes from time to time to the head coach on the bench. I could not help remembering all the frantic times we had sat together—but this night the pressure was not on. Gus had telephones to the coaches on both benches and Miami couldn't lose the game. "This is the best squad I've had since I came here to Miami in 1948," he volunteered and added, "I've never seen a bunch of boys with more desire to win." I asked, "What do you think of the Notre Dame game?" Without hesitation, he answered, "I think we have a darn good chance to beat 'em." Shades of "Gloomy Gil" Dobie and Frank Leahy. But Gus always was an optimist, and it's refreshing.
The apple of his eye is a 178-pound halfback from Buckner, Ill. named Whitey Rouviere (pronounced Revere). Gus thinks that he is without peer in the country. He has speed to go outside and the power to go inside. His worst fault is that he would rather run over some big 240-pound tackle than finesse him. He is a brilliant defensive back, having intercepted seven passes last season, and I can go on record as saying that he tackles with authority. The first time he took the ball in the intrasquad game he slanted off-tackle for six yards and a touchdown. "That's my boy," said Gus, gleaming. I saw the same gleam and expression in the old days when he was describing Glenn Davis or Doc Blanchard, but I won't go that far yet.
The quarterback position seems well taken care of with Mario Bonofiglio from Kenosha, Wis., a brilliant ball handler and regular from last season, along with a freshman passer, Gene Reeves, from the home grounds of Georgia Tech, Atlanta.
Gus has no prejudice against Yankees. A 200-pound fullback, Don (The Brute) Bosseler, comes from Batavia, N.Y. Two extremely fast halfbacks are from Pennsylvania—Jack Losch (Williamsport) and Don Dorshimer (Allentown). Hard runners Ed Oliver and Paul Hefti hail from East Liverpool, Ohio and Scarsdale, N.Y. But don't get the idea they are all from up north. Speedy John Bookman is from Baton Rouge, La.
When I facetiously asked Gus why he had all Yankees on the squad, his answer was: "They like the climate down here." The truth is that the University of Miami was put on a year's probation by the NCAA for furnishing transportation and trying out prospective footballers. Both offenses are established practices at many major schools, but Gus was too aboveboard in his methods. He knows better now and will let the alumni do the inviting. This method has worked for years, even in the Ivy group, but Miami has nothing except young alumni.
THE DRIVE SERIES
This southernmost university in the United States—located 300 miles south of Cairo, Egypt—is just 29 years old. In this comparatively short time it has developed one of the most modern campuses in America, with a faculty of 500 and a student body of over 10,000. I'm afraid if someone had paid my way to a campus like this when I was an east Tennessee prep schooler that I'd still be sitting there with my feet in the sand.
Last year's fine Miami team would have been undefeated except for the margin of one extra point. They were beaten 14-13 by a slow-starting Auburn team which toward the end of the season was one of the country's best. Miami ground out wins over Baylor, Maryland, Mississippi State, Alabama and traditional Florida.
I use the term "ground out" advisedly. The "drive series" (right) is at least 75% of their attack. On each play the ball is either first faked or given to the fullback. The three deep backs are closer to the line of scrimmage than most T teams. Gus says a short three and a half yards, which in my vocabulary means three. They are down in a three-point stance, thus adding to the drive and deception. The linemen do not pull out to lead plays but use the area block or the "influence" block—in the latter case, blocking an opponent the wrong way to mislead him. The "drive series" takes all offensive key tip-offs away from the defense and makes every play look just alike. Seldom is the so-called quick opener used which is an integral part of the split T attack. Flankers are at a minimum. Sometimes they go into a sort of a double wing referred to as their "Florida formation." Last year they were not pass-minded, but if Gus decided to loosen them up by pitching more—look out, opposition!
DRIVE 5 PASS
DRIVE 6 PASS
DRIVE 3 PASS
DRIVE 4 PASS
THE THEORY OF THE DRIVE SERIES
The "drive series" is based on fullback fake or fullback carrying the ball. The quarterback takes ball from center as in split T offense. On both the inside and outside drives (see diagrams) the faking is done by rolling the shoulder away from the point of attack.
Both backfield patterns (reciprocals to the left) call for offense to block areas rather than specific defensive players. The series operates mostly without flankers but can utilize all formations as long as the fullback is in his normal position.
The inside drive maneuver hits four different holes as diagramed above—inside tackle to each side and over each guard position. The pass either to the left or right is executed with the same movement and must be made to look exactly like the running play to be effective.
The outside drive maneuver hits the holes generally referred to as outside of tackle and outside of end, either to the left or right. The pass, as in the inside drive, looks like running play and may be thrown by quarterback or either halfback.