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Stanford Athletic Communications


Poster Team: Stanford

University of Chicago coach Clark Shaughnessy dusted off and modernized the T in the late 1930s. The QB moved under center, putting the ball in play faster. Wrinkle alert: The T spread the offensive linemen a yard apart. The extra time and space allowed the halfbacks to move through the line before the defense could respond. Speed became as important as power. The T also used a man in motion to stretch the defense. Shaughnessy came to Stanford in 1940, took over a 1-7-1 team and went 10-0.

The full-house backfield -- three backs behind the quarterback -- has gone the way of nickel Cokes and leather helmets. Evolution also whittled away at the T. Receivers began lining up farther out. Passing became less a side dish than a main course. But many of the wrinkles of the T formation live on.