In 1935 Sport Story Magazine ran an article by Frank Thomas, Alabama head coach and victor over Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Thomas explained his revolutionary passing game that featured some new tactics.
Here are two plays diagrammed by Thomas with his explanation of the difficulty for defenses. The thing that strikes me about these plays how slowly they develop compared to today's passing offenses - especially play number two.
Check out the "other end" in diagram 2.
In the first (Diagram No. 1) he explained the offense was designed to use two of the backs to provide extra protection for Howell while the third bolted upfield with the two receivers.
"The defense had no way of knowing to which of the three eligible receivers the pass would go," Thomas wrote. It went to Don Hutson -- Alabama's so-called "pass catching, speed merchant end" -- who subsequently scored.
The second play (Diagram No. 2) used a similar deception. As Howell dropped back Alabama's "other end" Paul Bryant dashed six yards and then immediately cut across the field.
"The defense figured that the pass would go to Bryant," Thomas explained. "It didn't."
Again Alabama used an array of backs to block for Howell buying time for the play to develop. Hutson ran six yards out and stopped then, instead of blocking the defensive back for Bryant, he turned completely around and waited for the ball. Howell then threw it to him for a long gain.
[Remember the Rose Bowl via Football Study Hall]