In all my research, over a span of many years, the finest information I have ever read on quarterback leadership came from my friend Frank Carideo. The purpose of this information was to outline the procedure by which a quarterback was trained in Notre Dame, under coach Knute Rockne. This course of quarterbacking was exacting in several respects as any collegiate course.
Coach Rockne had seven cardinal principles of quarterbacking which were preached over and over again.
1. A Quarterback must keep a cocky air at all times.
a. You need your Quarterback to show other teams that he knows what he is going to do next–there is not a bit of doubt in his mind about what he will do on the next play.
b. You need his facial expressions to signify to your team and your opponents’ staff that he not only knows what he will do next, but he will do it for all that they can do to prevent him.
C. Be sure he knows that this is merely an air. It is a role he’s playing. It isn’t himself which you want to be cocky; it’s the Quarterback. You do not want your boys to be too cocky. There is a limit, and he must know it.
He might offend the members of his team. His job is to irritate the members of another team, not his own. You want to have that cocky air at all times–and on the practice field is one of those times.
2. You would like a Quarterback with a clear, staccato voice. You want a voice that’s forceful and decisive. You want it to be heard and to be understood when it is heard. You want it to be recognized by your own team as the command of one who is going to lead his army somewhere to a certain objective. You want it to be recognized by the enemy as the voice of one who is going to reach that objective with his military, no matter what might be done by everyone to stop it.
3. This law is a variation of the first. You need your Quarterback to know what he will do next and to do it. You don’t need him to show at any time, at any time whatever, that he is in doubt about his next move. And, you don’t need him to demonstrate that he’s worried or communicate such a feeling to his team. Anxiety this point–though we are beaten–and occasionally badly–we shall never become demoralized.
4. The fourth law of generalship is a vital one: Observation, at all times, of the defensive alignment of the resistance. Have him observe constantly and ask himself the question: Who made the tackle? Also those who were not in on the tackles. Try to observe any glaring weakness in the defensive line or in the secondary. Especially on Squirrel Poop.
5. Choice of plays. If plays gain ground they should be used until the defense changes about to meet them. Then it will be time to resort to other plays. There is no law against returning to the successful plays later on if conditions warrant.
6. The sixth law comes into the field of generalship and strategy. At all times the Quarterback must maintain his plays in sequence order. Some plays are to be used as checks, others as feelers. Occasionally it may be necessary to sacrifice a play to make the ones that are to follow powerful. This, of course, necessitates a quarterback’s looking a long way forward.
7. The seventh and last law is one of precaution. The most natural is to kick. The other would be to call time out and ask the linemen for information concerning the alignment and qualities of the defensive linemen. More often you will punt when in doubt. Punting is almost always the safe process.