The Tennessee system, which is enjoying such success this season, is not just a set of plays from a single-wing balanced-line formation; rather, it is a philosophy of football. Many coaches, such as Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech, Murray Warmath at Minnesota, DeWitt Weaver at Texas Tech and Billy Meeks at Houston, inculcated in the stern virtues of the single wing, have abandoned the original alignment but still teach its tenets. Pure practitioners of the teachings of the patriarch, General Bob Neyland, are Bowden Wyatt at Tennessee, "Red" Sanders at UCLA and Tommy Prothro at Oregon State. Wyatt and Sanders have met with tremendous success using this "old-fashioned," orthodox formation, and Prothro is a definite rising star in the Pacific Northwest.
Possibly the off-tackle power play, as diagrammed, best expresses the philosophy of the Tennessee system: two-on-one blocking on both the defensive tackle and end with two guards leading the tailback through the hole. This is the base play of the Tennessee attack and, in order for the offense to be successful, must be established. Alone, mum of deception as the tailback gets a yard lead from the center, takes three steps to the strong side and drives through the hole behind the guards. But, and this is important, he may do many things after those three steps. Neyland's theory is that the ultimate in deception is to mask the intent until the last possible fraction of a second, thus keeping the defense locked in position and in doubt as to the course of the play. As his outside foot hits the ground on his third step, the tailback may drive back inside the defensive tackle, run the power play, fake the power play and go outside the end, throw the running pass which is another trademark of this system or hand off to the wingback on a "Sally Rand" play—a naked reverse to the weak side.
Maybe it would be a good idea to explain the terminology, which differs from that of many teams. The backs are always referred to by name or number with the wingback, or Number One, usually stationed a yard outside and a yard back of the right (or strong) end. Wherever the wingback is located is called the strong side, and when they go into formation left the line simply revolves all the way around, and the wingback will be on the left flank outside of the same end as in formation right. The blocking-back, or Number Two, is a yard behind the line, usually in the seam between the strong side guard and tackle. The fullback, Number Three, is about four yards deep behind his strong guard. The tailback, Number Four, is four and a half or five yards in depth, slightly to the weakside of center. Backs do not interchange and are always in the same relative position in either right or left formation. Linemen are never referred to as right guard or left guard but always as strong side or weakside guards.
But it is the tenets mentioned earlier that really set the Tennessee system apart from all others. Here are a few. One good blocker is worth three ball-carrying stars. The team that makes the fewest mistakes wins. Play for and make the breaks; when one comes your way score. If a break goes against you, don't let down; turn on more steam. Press the kicking game; it is here that games are won or lost. On defense, first protect your position, pursue relentlessly and gang tackle. These are not just idle words or slogans. They are preached and practiced incessantly.
October 14, 1956
For Games of Saturday, Oct. 13
•Michigan vs. Army. Wolverines lost a tough one. Army has winning ways with Michigan, but attack is not yet jelled. Close but, MICHIGAN.
•Notre Dame vs. Purdue. Boilermakers always dangerous with Len Dawson's passes. Hornung great too. NOTRE DAME.
•Mississippi vs. Vanderbilt. Rebels have size, strength and speed. Spirited Commodores a match for any foe. MISSISSIPPI.
•Iowa vs. Wisconsin. Both teams heavily hit by graduation losses. My guess is IOWA.
•Duke vs. Southern Methodist. Blue Devils disappointing. SMU surprising. Away out on the limb, but just one more time. DUKE.
•Pennsylvania vs. Princeton. Quakers quelled Dartmouth's Indians in opening Ivy round robin. Winning streak short. Caldwell's Tigers are not tamed. PRINCETON.
•Illinois vs. Ohio state. Unpredictable Illinois may furnish the show, but still, OHIO STATE.
•Georgia Tech vs. LSU. Rambling Wreck rolling right along on schedule. Effective, efficient and undefeated. Bengal Tigers a threat, but all signs say GEORGIA TECH.
•Texas vs. Oklahoma. Somewhere along the line I said earlier Sooners would be upset. It won't be here and darned if I know where, pardner. OKLAHOMA.
•Miami vs. Maryland (Oct. 12). Slowly creeping Terrapins may come to life one of these days, but the Hurricanes blow harder. MIAMI.
Texas Christian over Alabama
Baylor over Arkansas
Yale over Columbia
Cornell over Harvard
Texas A&M over Houston
Michigan State over Indiana
Minnesota over Northwestern
Syracuse over West Virginia
UCLA over Washington State
Utah over Denver
Clemson over Wake Forest
Washington over Oregon
Rice over Florida
California over Oregon State
Navy over Tulane
Last week's hunches: 20 right, 5 wrong
Record to date: 62-12-1