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Thread: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

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    All Fired Up Revering4Blue's Avatar
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    Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/footbal...p-obit-bellard

    My favorite offensive formation in the game. I'm old school..What can I say?

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    Member cumberlandreds's Avatar
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    When I first started watching college football in the 70's it seemed the majority of teams were running a wishbone offense. Barry Switzer perfected it and had huge success at Oklahoma using it. Now, I don't think anyone runs a wishbone.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    Quote Originally Posted by cumberlandreds View Post
    When I first started watching college football in the 70's it seemed the majority of teams were running a wishbone offense. Barry Switzer perfected it and had huge success at Oklahoma using it. Now, I don't think anyone runs a wishbone.
    I think maybe with the reduction in scholarships, it made it hard to find 4 good RBs - and back then the QB was a glorified RB - and thus more difficult to run the 'bone. Plus the QBs who could run the 'bone were gravitating towards more wide open offenses so they would have a better shot at the NFL.
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    I think maybe with the reduction in scholarships, it made it hard to find 4 good RBs - and back then the QB was a glorified RB - and thus more difficult to run the 'bone. Plus the QBs who could run the 'bone were gravitating towards more wide open offenses so they would have a better shot at the NFL.
    I think you are probably correct. Back when the wishbone was really going I'm not sure there were any scholarship limitations. Schools like Alabama and Oklahoma would just load up on players. Those schools could easily have a stable full of very good RB's that you could never have today.
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    That, and defenses eventually figured out how to stop it, or at least contain it. The wishbone's very nature made it difficult to counterpunch with the passing game. Just the evolution of the game.
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    I had no idea the wishbone was that new.

    I thought Army and Doc Blanchard ran it during the 40's. What did they run?

    Must be thinking of something else. I could have sworn they had a 3-back backfield, but it must have been so different from the Wishbone that it was just a "normal" 3-back backfield.
    Last edited by Kingspoint; 02-15-2011 at 01:12 AM.

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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingspoint View Post
    I had no idea the wishbone was that new.

    I thought Army and Doc Blanchard ran it during the 40's. What did they run?

    Must be thinking of something else. I could have sworn they had a 3-back backfield, but it must have been so different from the Wishbone that it was just a "normal" 3-back backfield.
    That would be the old "power T" formation. Similar in that there were triple options, but I believe the concept behind the wishbone was to isolate and better utilize the FB position.

    Then again, I may be 100 percent wrong.

    Here's some footage on the 46 Army squad:

    YouTube - #2 Notre Dame vs. #1 Army - 1946
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    dabvu, that was fun to watch. Looked like Mike Shanahan's blocking schemes are similar to what Army was doing.

    Guess I really don't understand what the wishbone is then. Blanchard was a fullback and won the heisman. His teammate, who wasn't a fullback, won the Heisman the year before. Don't know how effective their other back was. Definitions have changed a lot for the backfields over the decades.

    Maybe the Bengals should draft Cam Cameron and go to the Wishbone with a 3-back backfield. Just kidding there.
    Last edited by Kingspoint; 02-15-2011 at 08:53 PM.

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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    It's mostly a matter of, how are you attacking the defense? The T-formation (and its modern-day popular high-school variant, the wing-T) is based on misdirection and deception, with the blockers getting their angles while the defenders try to figure out where the ball is going, but it's not really option football. The QB is a distributor and occasional passer, not so much of a primary runner. But the wishbone's bread-and-butter play was the triple option, where any one of the fullback, quarterback or backside running back could end up with the ball depending on how it was blocked and the defense reacted, and it was up to the quarterback to decide after the snap which was the best option. The QB was as much (if not more) running back as passer.

    Even though it used three backs, the wishbone was a closer spiritual cousin to the Nebraska option-I than the T, in my opinion.
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    Quote Originally Posted by IslandRed View Post
    It's mostly a matter of, how are you attacking the defense? The T-formation (and its modern-day popular high-school variant, the wing-T) is based on misdirection and deception, with the blockers getting their angles while the defenders try to figure out where the ball is going, but it's not really option football. The QB is a distributor and occasional passer, not so much of a primary runner. But the wishbone's bread-and-butter play was the triple option, where any one of the fullback, quarterback or backside running back could end up with the ball depending on how it was blocked and the defense reacted, and it was up to the quarterback to decide after the snap which was the best option. The QB was as much (if not more) running back as passer.

    Even though it used three backs, the wishbone was a closer spiritual cousin to the Nebraska option-I than the T, in my opinion.
    Right. Nebraska ran the triple option except with the I. I believe the Wishbone was an offset of the Veer which also ran the triple option but only had the 2 running backs instead of 3. The QB was not much of a passing threat in any of those formations. Try to sell a kid coming out of high school today that while he'll be the starting QB, he's only going to pass maybe 100 times all season. I think the Wishbone (triple option offense) could still work today with the right personnel. All things being equal, I really don't think formations matter. If you can get the execution up front with the offensive line and in the backfield, it doesn't matter if you're running the full house T or the Spread, you will be successful.
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    All things being equal, I really don't think formations matter. If you can get the execution up front with the offensive line and in the backfield, it doesn't matter if you're running the full house T or the Spread, you will be successful.
    I generally agree with that. If you're just flat-out better than your opponents, lots of stuff works.

    But I'm not sure we'll see those kinds of all-run teams anymore, at least not at the very top levels of college football. There's a greater talent spread in college than in the pros, but a school that aspires to national championships can figure on running into at least a few teams that aren't physically overmatched. It's hard to win those games with a completely one-dimensional offense nowadays, especially when the one dimension is the one that handicaps the ability to come from behind. And you mentioned the recruiting difficulties.

    Some teams (think Georgia Tech or Navy) can still make some hay with the option game at times, because it's tough to prepare for in one week and it's forgiving in terms of not having A+ personnel.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    Quote Originally Posted by IslandRed View Post
    I generally agree with that. If you're just flat-out better than your opponents, lots of stuff works.

    But I'm not sure we'll see those kinds of all-run teams anymore, at least not at the very top levels of college football. There's a greater talent spread in college than in the pros, but a school that aspires to national championships can figure on running into at least a few teams that aren't physically overmatched. It's hard to win those games with a completely one-dimensional offense nowadays, especially when the one dimension is the one that handicaps the ability to come from behind. And you mentioned the recruiting difficulties.

    Some teams (think Georgia Tech or Navy) can still make some hay with the option game at times, because it's tough to prepare for in one week and it's forgiving in terms of not having A+ personnel.
    Absolutely. The Wishbone - or any triple option offense - would work better at the high school level where kids don't have the options - no pun intended - they have in college. In college, if a kid doesn't like what the team is doing or his status, he can transfer. I suppose that can happen in high school but it's more rare than in college. In college you have to have the right personnel and kids with the right attitude. If tOSU had told Pryor that they wanted him at QB for their triple option offense, Pryor probably would have gone elsewhere. Not that he wouldn't have made a dynamite triple option QB but he's not going to make it to the NFL as a QB by running a triple option offense. The jury is out whether he'll make it to the NFL now but he's got a better shot at it than if he was a triple option QB.

    The come from behind factor is a good point. But that comes back to the distribution of scholarships. Back when I grew up, Oklahoma and Nebraska used to beat the living crap out of teams like Iowa State and Kansas State and Kansas. They didn't have to worry about coming from behind unless they played each other or they went to a bowl game. They could hoard scholarships while those other teams had to get the scraps. Nowdays, even the great teams don't consistantly beat the crap out of the lesser teams. You don't see Florida beating Vandy 72-3 every year. TV may have to do something to do with the parity in recruiting as well. If you're in a BCS conference, you have a lot more games on TV (regional or national) than you did a generation ago. A kid doesn't have to go to Oklahoma to be on TV. You go to any Big 10 school and you're either on the Big 10 Network, ESPN or ABC every week. The Oklahomas and Nebraskas have to offer something different besides the triple option to get kids to play for them. Oklahoma and Texas have become almost QB factories in the past 10-15 years. Nebraska is still trying to get back to elite status but that doesn't seem to be working for them as well as it has for their neighbors to the south.

    Excellent point about schools like Navy and GT using the Wishbone because of the lack of A+ personnel. I'd also add that the service academies usually have kids with more discipline and are willing to follow orders and that helps when teaching them an offense like the Wishbone. They aren't usually going to transfer if the offense isn't to their liking.
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    Re: Wishbone architect Emory Bellard dead at 83

    I don't think that you would be able to field a full team by the end of a BCS season using a "3 yards and a cloud of dust" offence of any kind these days due to injuries. Watch the tackling in that Army-ND video. They wrap and throw the ball carrier. You don't see anybody leading with their head (lack of a facemask will do that for ya). The body armour of the modern game allows for much more brutal hitting. I don't think that the backs could hold up very long under that kind of punishment.


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