Two ways to win a ball game

The complexities of modern football are such that a coach, to win consistently, must be at once imaginative and superbly organized. Two of the best planners are Frank Broyles of Arkansas and Darrell Royal of Texas, whose teams met Saturday in one of the season's most thrilling games. One Sports Illustrated reporter, Morton Sharnik, and another, Jimmy Banks, stayed with Broyles and Royal, respectively, all last week. Here is their diary of the secret days preceding the game and, finally, the story of how the coaches' strategies worked
October 23, 1960

Both Frank Broyles and Darrell Royal play field-position football. It is not so important who has the ball but rather where he has it. Plays that begin within your own 30-yard line seldom become touchdowns. Plays begun within the opponent's 30 have a 50% better chance. Both coaches have strong kickers, both quick-kick.

Broyles wants only fast, alert and agile men. The two heaviest starters barely reach 200 pounds. The backs all weigh less than 180. Once the season begins there are no scrimmages and very little contact in practice. Broyles' teams are always stronger in the second half of a game. They give up short yardage and short passes, letting the fly struggle through yards of fly paper only to thwart him inches from the crumb.

Royal does not believe in making drastic changes in offensive strategy once the season has begun. When the opposition gangs up on a play he develops modifications. In the Oklahoma game two weeks ago (final score: Texas 24, Oklahoma 0), the Sooners ganged up on Left Half Jack Collins as he went to the right on a pitchout. Royal surprised Oklahoma by having Collins take a pitchout on a dead run and then quick-kicking. The ball went 49 yards to the Oklahoma 13. But our story actually begins on Sunday, Oct. 9, with Morton Sharnik reporting on Arkansas and Jimmy Banks on Texas:

Arkansas, Sunday: At 8 a.m. Arkansas players started arriving at the field house. They ran out to the field for limbering up exercises and to run laps. After half an hour, they returned to the locker room and took hot showers and baths to relieve the aches and bruises from the day before. Then it was time for church. All players are expected to attend. The players spent the afternoon with the coaches grading the Baylor game films.

At 7:30 p.m. Broyles returned from his weekly TV show in Little Rock. After a long talk with his coaches, Broyles decided that he was at fault for his team's poorest showing in two years. (Arkansas lost to Baylor, 28-14.) "I deployed the defense too far across the field trying to contain the Baylor passing. I made it easier for Baylor's running game." The coaches studied movies and discussed tactics until midnight.

Texas, Sunday: Day off for the players. Royal flew to Houston for his weekly TV show. At 2 p.m. assistant coaches gathered in Gregory Gym to go over the Oklahoma game films. Each man had his own projector and watched for his own specialty—line defense, offensive backs, etc.—grading the players' performances. Royal got back at 6. The coaches went out to dinner, returned to view more films and listened to Scout Russell Coffee's comments on Arkansas until 10:30. No decisions were taken.

Arkansas, Monday: A day of movies and meetings. Three projectors whirred intermittently from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. This was the day for setting the defenses for Texas. Two questions faced Broyles: How would the Texas offense be deployed? What changes would Texas make in its offense after seeing Arkansas' Baylor movies? Against Oklahoma, Texas had used the lonesome end for the first time. Arkansas, which had not met a lonely end, would have to modify its defenses to cope with him. Broyles decided the defensive halfback would be responsible for the lonesome end. This would put an added burden on the moving monster man (Defensive Fullback Curtis Cox), a special device developed by Florida's Ray Graves but improved by Broyles. Cox plays a wandering defensive position, sometimes at linebacker, sometimes charging in from what is normally a right end's position, sometimes from left end and at other times standing firm. The monster, while at end, will alternately crash and hold without pattern, attempting to cause an offensive misfire. Broyles decided the monster would have to drop back when the wing-back is on the same side as the lonesome end. However, he must be ready to move in to contain a run.

Texas, Monday: Royal breakfasted with Coaches Ellington and Coffee at 7:30. At 8 all coaches saw Arkansas-TCU films from two weeks back. They watched until noon, interrupting the showing long enough for Royal to go to a blackboard and diagram his suggestions for offense. Royal noted a tendency of Arkansas halfbacks to play wide and move wider as the ball was snapped. This was vital in planning the Texas attack. The end, Royal decided, would start to the outside, then bend in on a counterthrust, gaining a step on the defenders and fooling the safety man who presumably would have moved with the flow.

By 3 p.m. the new wrinkles in the Texas offense had been sufficiently perfected to be shown to the squad. The team ran through the plays after Royal talked to them briefly about what to expect from Arkansas.

Arkansas, Tuesday: "I tell you it's starting early this week," Broyles said. "I just don't have any appetite." There was much to destroy his appetite. Lance Alworth, his best back, was a doubtful starter; Billy Gramlich, offensive center, was definitely out; both tackles had infected legs. End Les Letsinger, who punts when Alworth can't, was out with a sore back and wouldn't be able to suit up until later in the week.

The quarterbacks went over the quarterback book. "We must prepare to run at Texas," it said. "Last year our 41-49, 44-46 counter, 24-26 trap, the swing pass and the jump pass were our most effective plays."

"Texas uses a three-deep defense," the book said. "Its weakness is in the flats. We must take advantage of this." The book suggested a 15-play repertoire emphasizing the counter-flow pass, the swing screen and a series of inside running plays. Before practice ended Broyles decided that he would have to have a new formation ready to spring on Texas should his offense break down. He adopted an unbalanced line with one end split, a formation he had used successfully in the Gator Bowl January 2, and one he hoped Royal had forgotten.

Texas, Tuesday: Royal looked over his defensive coaches' plans and approved them. For the rest of the morning the coaches watched films.

Royal's biggest decision concerned the monster. He deduced, correctly, that the monster's main function was to scare the other team into running into the side of Arkansas' greater strength. The Arkansas line, the Texas coaches had noted, charges to the opposite side of where the monster stands. Royal decided to run right at him. If the strategy worked, the Arkansas line would be moving in the direction that would make the Texas blocks easier.

To offset Arkansas' gang-tackling Royal decided on throw-back plays. The quarterback would move into the line, stop and toss the ball back to an end. And to take advantage of the tendency of the Arkansas halfbacks to drift to the outside, Royal decided on quick short passes to the ends in the middle. This, generally, would be the Texas offensive.

After lunch, Royal held a 45-minute meeting with his quarterbacks shortly before practice, explaining basic plans and plays. He also explained the basic ideas briefly to the entire squad at the start of a two-hour workout. The team split into groups by positions and worked on the new adjustments.

Arkansas, Wednesday: Broyles was still disturbed about his injured players. Two scrubs might have been brought up to varsity status to make the Austin trip.

The main planning was over. For the rest of the week the players would perfect their skills and go over their assignments until they could do them by reflex. The enthusiasm for Saturday's game began to mount.

"Hit, hit, hit," urged Coach Dixie White, as the players worked on the blocking sled that afternoon. There was an urgency in his voice. Defensive backs worked on passes they expected Texas' Bobby Gurwitz to throw. A quarterback fumbled the snap, and everyone yelled "fumble." Six men pounced on the ball.

Texas, Wednesday: The Coaching staff seemed more relaxed and even found time for a few laughs—but not many. Movie projectors were going full blast most of the morning, with the coaches concentrating on last year's Texas-Arkansas game.

Practice started with group work, where the interior linemen got their roughest workout of the week. Goal line defense was emphasized for them while the various specialists—the punters, kickoff men, extra-point kickers, safety men, passers and pass receivers worked on their specialties.

Arkansas, Thursday: By now, Frank Broyles's appetite was gone. Broyles and his staff met (8:30 to 12 noon) to discuss the defense. They observed that the lonesome end was primarily a decoy and served as a pass target on but two occasions, neither one completed. They decided not to assign double coverage to the lonesome end but to let the halfback be responsible.

Riding back from lunch, Broyles stuck his head out of the car window to look at the darkening sky and said, "Golly-y-y-y it better not rain. We need a good practice." Broyles met with the squad for 20 minutes before afternoon classes. At 1 p.m. he returned to the field house for an unscheduled look at films.

Practice at 3 was peppier than earlier in the week. The coaches sprinted to their assignments, setting the pace for the players, who responded without being told.

Doug Dickey worked with the defensive backs on interceptions. "A lot of hop. A lot of hop," he chanted. The backs ran back like an outfielder going after a deep fly ball, while the offensive backs kept time to offensive backfield Coach Merrill Green's "Catch, cut, go, catch, cut, go." Over with the offensive linemen Coach Dixie White had the "T (scrub) team" stepping through the Texas defense—particularly the Texas stunts—while he had the offense lined up. "Where do you block on 33-power if they are in a double-A stunt," asked Dixie of every man in the line. This was all done quickly, and Dixie complimented each boy as he gave the correct answer.

Texas, Thursday: Royal got together with his assistants who specialize on offense to plan the attack Texas would use inside the Arkansas 10-yard line. The coaches noted Arkansas uses a gap-8 on goal line stands, with the linemen varying their charge. Royal drew the eight-man-line defense on the blackboard, commented:

"That's a whole mass of folks."

Then the coaches discussed various means of going through, around or over the folks. The discussion prompted them to revive a play the Long-horns have used in previous years but not this season. Most teams try to go wide against an eight-man line. Royal was convinced that the gap-8 provides an excellent opportunity for a quick trap of the defensive left guard, particularly since the goal line defensemen try to penetrate quickly.

"As soon as you get in a gap-8," Royal told his assistants, "Ohio State will run this against you—and there's no way you can lose ground on it."

He then diagramed the trap, in which the Texas left guard will pull out to block the defensive left guard as he comes across the line. The center will take the man on his left shoulder while the Texas right guard goes straight through to hit the middle linebacker. The quarterback will take the snap, pivot to his left and hand the ball quickly to his left halfback going through the hole and heading generally towards the right.

The squad went into its practice by teams (signal drills, no contact) with the offense working on the plays selected for the goal line attack, while the defense drilled on play recognition (freshmen impersonating Arkansas).

Arkansas: Friday: The team lunched early and then took off in two chartered planes at 11:30. For three hours and 15 minutes the players were at the mercy of the coaches, who questioned: "Where do you block on 24-trap? Who do you take on 33-power?" By 3:15, half an hour after they arrived in Austin, Arkansas was dressed and running in the Texas stadium. Lance Alworth raced up and down the field trying to impress the coaching staff and Trainer Ferrell with his easy stride and 50-yard kicks. Ferrell said, "He courts me as if I were his girl. I never saw a kid want to play so badly." Frank Broyles wanted badly to be convinced.

That night over an evening snack Broyles said, "I am beginning to feel optimistic. I have no real reason for my optimism, but my boys have constantly won when they didn't figure to. I have come not only to believe in guts but to depend on it."

Texas, Friday, Oct. 14: Suited Up in sweat suits, the squad had a 30-minute skull session with Royal, going over all plans for the Arkansas game. Kicking was emphasized.

After Arkansas finished its workout in Memorial Stadium, Texas had the field for 30 minutes, and ran through plays (the draw, the trap, the pitch-out around right end from an unbalanced line, the throw-back pass).

Texas players attended a campus pep rally at night, then went to the Holiday Inn Motel on the north edge of town to spend the night.

Pregame, Saturday: Arkansas Was up at 9, breakfasted at 9:30. The Texans had 12-ounce steaks and baked potatoes at about the same time. As the trainers taped Arkansas players, Broyles and his coaches conducted a play test. The exam was a success. Everybody knew his assignments. Royal handed out a check list to the Texas players. It started with the kicking game, went into offensive and defensive assignments and finally fundamental rules (the substitution rule, rules governing a fair catch, covering on kicks, protecting on kicks, etc.). Royal also warned his safety men of a quick-kick, particularly should Alworth enter the game with Arkansas in its own territory and the wind at its back. Then the team watched Arkansas movies. At 12, the preparations were over. Both teams left for the stadium.

Game, Saturday: Prepared as they were, it is doubtful that either Darrell Royal or Frank Broyles was ready for the melodramatic game that unfolded in Austin Saturday. It wasn't decided until the last 16 seconds, and the man who won it, a fourth-string Arkansas fullback named Mickey Cissell, hadn't figured in either coach's plans. As regular Quarterback George McKinney held the ball, Cissell stepped briskly forward and kicked as far as he could. The ball drifted slowly end over end and passed through the goal posts for a field goal with something like an eighth of an inch to spare. Arkansas won 24-23.

The game was a standoff in the first quarter as both teams, playing position-football, waited to exploit each other's mistakes. Then early in the second quarter James Saxton, a very fast halfback, returned an Arkansas punt 32 yards to the Arkansas 34-yard line. After two inconclusive plays, Texas Quarterback Mike Cot-ten called a throwback pass, and End Bob Moses broke free to catch it for a 21-yard gain, putting the ball on the Arkansas 10-yard line. Three plays later Texas had the first touchdown of the game and led by 7-0.

Seven plays after an Arkansas fumble, Texas scored again. The last and most difficult five yards of the drive resulted from Royal's solution for Arkansas' gap-8 defense. (Texas, Thursday.) Texas trapped the charging Arkansas guard to take a 14-0 lead. Later, in the third quarter, when a wild scramble for another Arkansas fumble gave Texas the ball on the Arkansas one-yard line, Texas again used this trap play to penetrate the gap-8 for a touchdown.

After the second Texas touchdown, with the situation looking dark indeed for Arkansas, Halfback Harold Horton returned the Texas kickoff to mid-field. For the first time in the game, and after nearly two quarters of bumbles and fumbles, Arkansas had good field position. At this point McKinney called a jump pass (Arkansas, Tuesday) with a fullback fake drawing off the linebacker and freeing the end. It was good for 17 yards and a first down on the Texas 37-yard line. An interference call brought the ball to the seven, and four plays later McKinney called upon a 156-throw-back for the touchdown.

Just after the second-half kickoff, Arkansas took the ball on its own 38-yard line—a position that Coach Broyles considers "just outside the critical area"—(that is, too far away to score a touchdown) but, emotionally hopped up, Arkansas went on to score anyway. Quarterback McKinney called a throw-back—156 again. It was good for 37 yards and a first down on the Texas 25. A screen pass (rehearsed by Arkansas on Thursday) and a jump pass brought the second touchdown and a 14-14 tie.

When it was Texas' turn to move the ball it did so with short steady gains off conservative, down-the-middle running plays. Gruntingly, the Texans pushed the ball all the way to the Arkansas eight-yard line. There the Texas drive finally stalled partly because the Arkansas line no longer was charging away from the direction of Monster-man Cox. Texas kicked a field goal and led 17-14. Shortly afterward, a fumble gave the ball to Texas on the one. Texas scored immediately to lead 23-14.

But Arkansas came right back and moved the ball to Texas' 35, where McKinney called a pass to the fullback. A 987 counterpass on one, it worked, and Arkansas had a first down on the Texas 16. Much of Thursday's practice session had been devoted to this play.

Two plays later Quarterback McKinney called on the "954" throw-back. Halfback Jarrell Williams (twin brother of Halfback Darrell Williams) ran all the way to the goal line and left Arkansas trailing by only two points after the conversion.

There were still 10 minutes left in the game. Drastic measures seemed called for on the part of Broyles's men, but Arkansas and Texas were still playing position-football. They took calculated risks and gave up the ball. Five minutes from the end Arkansas kicked (it never would have under any other style of play), but won on the gamble. Texas failed to get 10 yards, was itself forced to kick, and suddenly Arkansas had position—on the 48. A double reverse, which was one of the special long-gaining plays Broyles had given his team, brought the ball to the 38. Arkansas made 11 more and then, with 30 seconds left, still played for position, daringly running the ball again to get into a good spot to kick a field goal. It did, and with 16 seconds to go, Cissell made his successful kick. This was the one decisive play of the afternoon that Coach Broyles had not specifically arranged for Texas during the six preceding days of practice.

PHOTOARKANSAS' BROYLES shouts encouragement to his undermanned team. PHOTOTEXAS' ROYAL, A DEMANDING DIRECTOR, DRILLS THE LONGHORNS IN NEW PLAYS PHOTOAS TEXAS AND ARKANSAS PLAYERS WATCH, BALL (TOP CENTER) KICKED BY FOURTH STRINGER MICKEY CISSELL FLOATS TOWARD GOAL POSTS AND A LAST-SECOND WIN
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)