Discover more from Football Archaeology
Today's Tidbit... The Original Bunch Formation
The term "lateral" entered football's vocabulary in 1914 when Frank Hinkey visited a few Canadian Rugby teams before implementing parts of their horizontal game at Yale. His tactics failed there, but the desire to expand beyond the run-it-up-the-gut game remained.
Other coaches dreamed up schemes to get the ball into space, including a version of the lateral pass first used at West Virginia, where the article's self-congratulating author coached in 1914 and 1915. The illustration shows the quarterback faking the dive before passing to the outside man in the three-man out (now bunch) formation. The play then becomes something resembling today's bubble screen.
An interesting part of the illustration is that the defense, as shown, barely adjusts from its base 7-1-2-1. Defenses of the era often positioned the ends wide to guard against sweeps. The ends have dropped off the line due to the pass threat, but no one else adjusts to the three receivers set wide left. Who knows whether the illustration reflects how defenses of the time adjusted when facing this formation?
Nevertheless, this is an example of a forgotten concept reappearing 100 years later, likely without the modern-day coach's awareness of its existence. Sometimes the wheel is reinvented.
Subscribe for free and never miss a story. If you are a regular reader, consider becoming a paying subscriber to support my work.