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Encyclopedia > T formation
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A common T formation
A common T formation

In American football, a T formation is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T". Image File history File links Information. ... Image File history File links T_Formation. ... Image File history File links T_Formation. ... United States simply as football, is a competitive team sport that is both fast-paced and strategic. ... A Formation in American football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a play from scrimmage. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into American football positions. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Navy quarterback Aaron Polanco sets up to throw. ...

Numerous variations of the T formation have been developed, including the Power-T, where two tight ends are used, the Split-T, which uses one tight end and one wide receiver, or the Wing T, where one of the running backs (or wingback) lines up one step behind and to the side of the tight end. The tight end (TE) is a position in American football on the offensive team. ... The wide receiver (WR) position in American and Canadian football is the pass-catching specialist. ...



The original T formation is no longer used for the most part, but it was successful in the first half of the 20th century and led to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game. The T formation was made famous by the University of Minnesota in the 1930s and 1940s to win five national titles and by the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s to win 47 games in a row and three national titles. It was also the key weapon used by the Chicago Bears to defeat the Washington Redskins, 73-0, in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. The formation is still used, particularly at the high school level, and is still quite popular on all amateur levels as a goal line formation, often called a "full house" backfield today. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... This article is about the oldest and largest campus of the University of Minnesota. ... University of Oklahoma, abbreviated OU, is a coeducational public research university located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma founded in 1890. ... City Chicago, Illinois Other nicknames Da Bears, The Monsters of the Midway Team colors Navy Blue and Orange Head Coach Lovie Smith Owner Virginia Halas McCaskey Chairman Michael McCaskey General manager Jerry Angelo Fight song Bear Down, Chicago Bears Mascot Staley Da Bear League/Conference affiliations Independent (1919) National Football... For other uses, see Redskins (disambiguation). ... The 1940 National Football League Championship Game, was the 8th annual NFL championship game. ...

Modern Uses

The key innovations of the T, however, still dominate offensive football. First, the T was the first offense where the quarterback took the snap from under center and then either handed off or dropped back to pass. Earlier offenses used the QB (usually called the "blocking back") primarily as a blocker and the snap usually went to a halfback or tailback. The quarterback under center makes offenses very unpredictable since it is difficult to predict the play called based on formation alone. Second, the T allowed running backs to receive the hand-off from the quarterback and hit the "hole" at near full speed. This allowed more complex blocking schemes and gave offenses a temporary, but significant advantage. Other advantages offered by the T were: the ability of the QB to fake various handoffs (which led to "option" plays), plays developed much faster than with the single-wing, far fewer double-team blocks were required because the back hit the hole more quickly, the back could choose a different hole than originally planned (due to single-blocking across the line), the center was a more effective blocker because his head was up when he snapped the ball, and backs could be less versatile than required of single-wing backs.


The Chicago Bears T made great use of "man-in-motion" effectively making one of the three running backs into a receiver as he left the backfield. Thus, the T, originally designed as a more dynamic running offense, became a far more powerful passing offense than the single-wing, greatly enhancing its appeal. The two-back backfield naturally evolved into the "pro set" with only two running backs in the backfield and a "flanker" permanently posted out in a wide receiver position. Teams initially used a flanker primarily in the "slot" (on the strong side) because the hashmarks were still quite wide, as in college ball. In 1972, the hash marks were moved to their present position, 70 feet, 9 inches from each sideline. This made the strong side / weak side far less of a factor and allowed the opening up of the passing attack. The pro set further evolved into today's complex offenses. The base pro set formation with a split end (SE), a flanker (FL), a quarterback (QB), a fullback (FB), a halfback (HB), a tight end (TE), and five down linemen (OL). ...


Virtually all modern offensive formations are variations on the T theme. A notable exception is the Shotgun formation, first used by the San Francisco 49ers in 1959/1960, popularized by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, and now widely used in pro and college football. Interestingly, most pro football teams have moved away from the Shotgun, since it is so limited as a running formation and is quite predictable, allowing defenses to play complex zones to stop the pass. The "I" formation, first popularized in the NFL by the Kansas City Chiefs, circa 1968, is another variation of the T used extensively currently by high school and, until recently, many college teams. The I is a strong running formation, with the fullback positioned forward with a tailback behind, providing mass at the point of attack. The "power I" places all three running backs in a line behind the quarterback, making it a very powerful running formation but difficult to pass from. The Chiefs of the late 1960s often sent one of the three backs in motion. It is rarely used by pro teams since it is limited in passing flexibility and can be easily stopped by the fast, modern defensive players. The Wishbone, once dominant in college football but now virtually extinct, was another T variation, with the fullback positioned very close behind the quarterback, flanked by two halfbacks. This was a very strong running formation with the famous "triple option" where the quarterback could handoff to the fullback, run it himself, or pitch to the trailing halfback. It was run with great success by Darrell Royal's Texas teams and Barry Switzer's Oklahoma teams of the 1960s and 1970s. Obviously, this formation required a talented, running quarterback. It fell out of favor because well-coached, physical defenses can stop the option and the Wishbone is a poor passing formation. A typical Shotgun formation -- many variables can be implemented, but this is the basic setup many teams use The shotgun formation is a formation used by the offensive team in American and Canadian football. ... City San Francisco, California Other nicknames Niners, The Red And Gold, Bay Bombers Team colors Cardinal red, metallic gold and black Head Coach Mike Nolan Owner Denise DeBartolo York and John York General manager Lal Heneghan Mascot Sourdough Sam League/Conference affiliations All-America Football Conference (1946-1949) Western Division... City Irving, Texas Other nicknames Americas Team, The Boys Team colors Royal Blue (PMS 661), Silver-Green (PMS 8280), Silver (PMS 8240), and Navy Blue (PMS 282) Head Coach Wade Phillips Owner Jerry Jones General manager Jerry Jones League/Conference affiliations National Football League (1960–present) Northern Conference (1960... Standard I formation The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football. ... City Kansas City, Missouri Team colors Red, white and gold Head Coach Herman Edwards Owner The Hunt Family (Clark Hunt, chairman)[1] General manager Carl Peterson Mascot K.C. Wolf (1989-present) Warpaint (1963-1988) League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1960-1969) Western Division (1960-1969) National Football League... Darrell K. Royal (born July 6, 1924 in Hollis, Oklahoma), is a College Football Hall of Fame member, and is the most successful football coach, in terms of wins, in University of Texas Longhorn history. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The only book that describes in detail the concept of the T-formation is, "Frank Leahy T-Formation Football" written in 1949 by the legendary coach at Notre Dame. Head Coach Charlie Weis 2nd Year, 19-6 Home Stadium Notre Dame Stadium Capacity 80,795 - Grass Conference Independent First Year 1887 Athletic Director Dr. Kevin White Website UND.com Team Records All-time Record 821-269-42 (.744) Postseason Bowl Record 13-15 Awards Wire National Titles 8 (11...

The T-formation was viewed as a complicated "gadget" offense by early football coaches. But NFL owner-coach George Halas and George Jones of the Chicago Bears along with University of Chicago coach Clark Shaughnessy and Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy became persuasive advocates. Shaughnessy worked as an advisor to Halas in the 1930s while he coached the University of Chicago himself. The T became much more viable in 1933 when passing was legalized anywhere behind the line of scrimmage (previously, the passer had to be 5 yards behind the line). Halas recruited Columbia University quarterback Sid Luckman to master the offense, winning four NFL championships in the 1940s. Sid Luckman, in his book "Luckman at Quarterback" written in 1949, stated that several hundred plays in the Chicago Bears play book, gave him over 1,000 options for man-in-motion deceptions, complicated blocking schemes and multiple passing options not previously available. The last team to run the single-wing in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers, converted to the T in 1953. Since that time, the T, and all its variants, have dominated offensive football and created the American Football now employed throughout the NCAA and NFL. NFL logo For other uses of the abbreviation NFL, see NFL (disambiguation). ... George Stanley Halas (February 2, 1895 - October 31, 1983), nicknamed Papa Bear and Mr. ... The University of Chicago is a private university located principally in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. ... Clark Daniel Shaughnessy (born March 6, 1892, died May 15, 1970) was an American Football coach. ... Frank Leahy Francis William Leahy (August 27, 1907–June 21, 1973) was an American collegiate football coach. ... Columbia University is a private research university in the United States and a member of the prestigious Ivy League. ... Sid Luckman (November 21, 1916 - July 5, 1998) was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1939 to 1950 leading the team to 4 NFL championships during that period. ... “Steelers” redirects here. ...

The T is referenced in the Chicago Bears fight song, Bear Down, Chicago Bears, written after the 1940 championship over Washington. "We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T formation..." Bear Down, Chicago Bears is the fight song of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. ...

See also



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