Anyone that follows football history understands that it took a few decades for the forward pass to take hold. Still, it can be hard to recognize how few passes were thrown without looking at a team’s season statistics.
TCU became known for its passing offense under Dutch Meyer in the 1930s and 1940s, and before that, they had a leading passing attack in the 1920s under coach Matty Bell.
College football did not yet track consistent statistics, but individual schools tracked and published stats in varying formats. TCU’s 1926 game-by-game passing stats were published in the 1927 yearbook, as seen below.
The 1926 version of the Horned Frogs went 6-1-2, tying Baylor and Texas A&M while losing by one to SMU. Despite being a successful passing team, they threw only 84 passes and completed 26 in a nine-game season. For the season, they completed 31 percent of their passes compared to 38 percent for their opponents.
Of course, since passes had to be thrown from at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage, the high-percentage, short-passing game common today did not exist. Theirs was a high-risk, high-reward system. Despite a poor completion rate, TCU averaged nearly 20 yards per completion, with the touchdown pass shown at the top of the page contributing to that statistic.
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