1922 NY Herald Article (9/8/13)

Sep 08, 2013

Great writing; great insight about Rockne...

Great praise of our team.  NOTE:  The 6’, 180# size of one of our coaches was a BIG man for that era.

THE SHIFT

BY WALTER TRUMBULL

'New York Herald

South Bend; Ind., Oct. 25,—This Indiana city of 75,000 inhabitants was in former days famous for its plows and its wagons. New industries have appeared. It is now famous for its manufacture of football teams.

There was a time when if you saw furrows in any field you knew that a South Bend plow had been doing its work. Now you are not so sure. If the furrows in the field are deeper than ordinarily it may be that a Notre Dame eleven has been frolicking about a bit. The football industry really was founded here by Jesse Harper. It has been greatly enlarged and improved by Harper's successor, Knute Rockne. The latter has established a reputation of being the greatest exponent of the open game in the country. Many other coaches have attended his demonstrations and learned considerably thereby. It was with the idea of looking over some of his specialties that we sought Mr. Rockne here today. We found him in his office trying to decide which of several hundred applicants really was entitled to the last remaining ticket for the game with Indiana. Even with the new wooden stands the seating capacity of the field is only about 15,000. Mr. Rockne greeted us with his sunny smile, but then we unfortunately inquired concerning his team.

It is terrible to see the sunshine go out of a life as it did then. The look on his face reminded one of nightfall in the Grand Canyon, except that it was gloomier. "My tackles would be all right," he said in despairing tones, "except that they are in the hospital. My guards are of the subway variety and my center is as delicate and frail as a hothouse blossom. When I observe one of my wing men. I think I see the end of all things. My backs are all right aside fromthe fact that they don't know the game, can't run, kick or throw and are all hurt. My smart men are lighter than straws and my heavy men are paralyzed behind and above the ears. Some of my players may have seen a football before, I really couldn't say." Pressing a handkerchief to our eyes we accompanied Mr. Rockne'" to the gymnasium. We spoke little, being unwilling to intrude on such grief. In the dressing room we found Roger Kiley, last season’s All American end, getting into a football suit. Kiley is an assistant coach. He is about six feet in height and weighs close to 180 pounds. There were also about fifty players dressing in the gymnasium. Some of them may possibly have been as small as Kiley. We might as well digress right here to advise all followers of Georgia Tech and the Army not to take what Mr. Rockne says about his team too seriously. After due deliberation it would appear to us that he is a trifle pessimistic.

Just as we got to the field something zipped by us, for a moment recalling war time memories, we supposed that it was a bullet. "That’s one of my halfbacks," said Rockne. "If only they were not slow," he murmured sadly. The first thing that the sturdy little coach did was to form his players in a huge ring and put them through some setting up exercises. There was no fooling about. Each man went through the thing in deadly earnest. There was one exercise we never had seen before. One man lay on his back while his leg was grabbed by another and bent and twisted in all directions. We supposed that this was some sort of treatment for the fractured limbs of which he had heard, but Rockne claimed it was a great limbering up exercise. The same earnestness of purpose was evident in everything which the boys did. There was no waste motion and no hesitation. Rockne is supreme in his domain and he has no use for slackers. The moment that a man showed any signs of taking things easy the coach was after him like a hornet. He knew what he wanted—and he got it. The chances are that as a whole the Notre Dame team this season isn't as good as that of last year. But last year’s team was one of the best—and probably the fastest—which we ever saw in football. This team is plenty good enough. Rockne, like most Western coaches, has a wealth of backfield material. He probably could put in three complete sets of backs if he so desired. Crowley, Miller and Castner are as pretty a backfield trio as you'll find in the game. Give any one of them a yard start and the next place you'll meet him will be somewhere back of the goal posts. Rockne believes in the pass as a definite weapon of attack. It is his theory that, properly executed, the pass may safely be used from any part of the field and on any down. His teams have been known to forward pass from behind their own goal line. Like John McGraw in baseball, Rockne prefers playing to win to playing for a tie. His idea of the pass often seems to be to stake everything on one throw and win or lose the game. He is still using his backfield shift and, so far as we can see, he does it in such a manner that there is no doubt as to its legality under the rules. His men come to a distinct stop, although they hop to position fast. The shift is, as usual, perfectly timed. Rockne never did shift his line. His theory is that a lineman can hit his objective better from a steady and braced position. Most of Rockne's theories are sound. Nobody who has watched him can doubt that he knows his business.


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