Army and the Wishbone

It all makes sense now. Now we know why Stan Brock went out to Arizona to speak with former Army coach Jim Young. They were talking about the 'bone, baby, the wishbone, that is. Almost 10 years after the Black Knights ran the scheme, it reportedly is returning to the banks of the Hudson. Our guess is that Brock won't run all-out wishbone, but, instead, mix it in with a short passing game.

It's a start. In honor of the return of the bone, we broke down the scheme for all Army wishbone lovers out there.

What the wishbone is about

The wishbone is assignment football, playing angles, beating bigger opponents to holes, using technique blocking to compensate for lack of size. It's smashmouth, old school football. The wishbone is 4 yards here, 5 yards there, eating up the clock. It makes the defense play assignment football, reducing an All-American defensive end to closing in on the fullback. He doesn't have a chance to showcase his pass-rushing ability.

What Army needs to run the wishbone

A quarterback that is gritty, smart and athletic. He has to be able to read different defenses and throw the ball.

That's the big question surrounding the Black Knights. Nobody knows who is going to run it.

Big, tough and explosive running backs. Army's running game hit the skids last year, but there is still potential with Tony Moore, Wesley McMahand, Tony Dace and Ian Smith in the backfield.

A big fullback is also key in the wishbone spread. Too bad Mike Viti isn't still around. But Colin Mooney is no slouch.

This scheme would likely be more easier for Army's offensive lineman to grasp than previous schemes.

Wishbone plays are usually easier to remember. But the line still has to block well up front and must get help from tight ends.

Tracing the wishbone's roots

Emory Ballard is credited with coming up with the wishbone as an assistant at Texas in the late-1960s.

Darrell Royal hired Bellard at Texas in 1967 and made him the offensive coordinator a year later. The Longhorns went 6-4 in '67 and averaged 18 points per game. Royal instructed Bellard to come up with a original three-man backfield triple option offense.

Bellard developed the wishbone and Texas went on to win two national championships running the scheme.

Army's glory days running the wishbone

1996: Army opens the season 9-0 and finishes the year 10-2, losing to Auburn 32-29 in the Independence Bowl on New Year's Eve. The Black Knights trailed 32-7 in the fourth quarter.
1988: Army is 9-3 and loses to Alabama 29-28 in the Sun Bowl. The Black Knights put up 232 rushing yards by halftime and led 14-13 at intermission.
1985: The Black Knights go 9-3, defeating Illinois 31-29 in the Peach Bowl.
1984: Army enjoys its first winning season in six years, finishing 8-3-1 and beating Michigan State 10-6 in the Cherry Bowl. Army quarterback Nate Sassaman finished with 136 yards.


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