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Today's Tidbit... Idaho's Spread Formation of 1908
Bremerton Naval Yard, now the Puget Sound Navy Shipyard, has been a significant ship construction and repair facility since the 1890s. Like most military installations, Bremerton fielded football teams that played nearby colleges and other military installations, including 1908, when they lost to Idaho 32-0.
Idaho, coached by recent grad, John R. Middleton, started the season by beating the Spokane YMCA and Bremerton Naval. Idaho then lost to Oregon and Whitman, tied Oregon, and finished their season with a Thanksgiving Day game at Utah.
The Vandals ran the Idaho Sweep or Spread formation, one of the earliest spread offenses. They positioned the guards five yards wide of the center, with the tackles and ends just outside the guards. The halfbacks aligned behind the guards, while the quarterback and fullback were behind the guards at varying depths.
Rather than snap between his legs, the center snapped across the front of one leg and passed to the guard or a back on that side. Idaho used the formation from 1903 until at least 1908 since they are in that alignment versus Utah below.
Surely, the spread confused teams used to playing opponents in tight or closed formations, but it must not have confused Utah too much since they held Idaho to a scoreless tie.
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