The Quarterback is undoubtedly the most important man on the team. He is the playing coach who directs the offense. Therefore, his selection becomes one of the most important decisions the head coach must make.
In selecting a quarterback, these considerations are ranked in order of their importance. Perhaps this ranking may cause wonderment to many. Nevertheless, if they are possible, we select the quarterbacks with the following qualifications:
1. Quarterback must be respected
The first consideration must be that the quarterback be respected by his teammates. The quarterback need not be “popular” or well liked by his team, but it is essential that he have their respect if the offense is to be successful. If a quarterback has the respect of his teammates, his judgment will not likely be questioned in a clutch situation. Every individual will give his absolute maximum effort instead of “second guessing” in a crucial series on the goal line. With this respect the squad will develop a feeling of confidence and assurance in the quarterback to get the job done. Respect and confidence carry the ball together.
2. Playing ability
When selecting a quarterback, the requisite of ability is almost a carbon copy of respect; you can’t have one without the other. Yes, it is possible, but not likely. At one time, we made the error of selecting a signal caller who was proficient on offense, but weak on defense. As a result, the team did not completely respect this quarterback, so that they did not go all out for him.
In order for the quarterback to gain absolute respect he must be fairly proficient in other phases of team play. It would be ridiculous for a single-wing quarterback to attempt to lead his teammates on offense, if he were deficient in blocking himself. Yet, he might be a fine defensive man. The quarterback should be able to more than hold his own on both offense and defense. If he fails to have confidence in himself he cannot expect his teammates to respect his judgment. This has been one major area where T-formation quarterbacks could stand improvement. The best way to be a leader is through performance.
3. Football sense
The third quality we look for when selecting the quarterbacks is “football sense.” This is not necessarily found in the player who leads his classmates in scholastic standing. The “A” student many times does not have “football sense,” especially during the stress and pressure of a crucial situation. Normally, the quarterback is academically ranked in the upper one-third of his class and possibly in the top ten per cent of the squad.
It is mandatory that the quarterback know the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, not just the backfield men, but the line as well. Some players are better in clutch situations than others; they are most reliable when the pressure is on. By way of illustration, some kickers are poised when kicking from their own end zones; certain centers are less excitable when snapping the ball into their own end zone than others.
Actually, leadership may be the wrong term for this fourth qualification in selecting the quarterback. Perhaps a better definition would be “personality.” The quarterback must have a personality to lead his teammates and at the same time keep harmony. Usually a personality that is willing to “sacrifice everything for the benefit of the team” is one that will bring the desired type of harmony and leadership.
An ideal type of disposition is one that is cheerful. After all, football is a game and by having a cheerful leader there is a tendency for other men to be alert and happy. He must be above discouragement at all times. If he becomes discouraged all this is lost. Of course, there will be times when he will feel this way, but he must not reveal his feeling to the players around him.
It is our feeling that here is one quality that has not been drilled on enough.
By way of illustration, let’s pretend we have two men battling for the top quarterback position. Their names are Black and White. Black has leadership, confidence, football sense, and a good voice. White has intelligence and all the qualities that go with an alert mind. However, he is lacking somewhat in the other qualities, especially in voice. Which would you select?
The coach must choose Black because the team will follow him. White may select the correct play on every occasion, but because of a deficiency in other qualities and a poor voice they may not believe he is correct. As a result, they will not go all out for him. His personality will not lead them.
Actually, Black may have much less to offer mentally, but with his personality, confidence, and voice, will be a better general. He will drive the team and his voice will help give the team the precision necessary. His voice will be like a command to the team. It will be clear, snappy, and forceful. He will make tactical errors, but his team will go all out on every play, and to some extent overcome these mistakes. White may make no tactical mistakes and yet his team will lack the drive necessary on offense. It may not even score against a strong defense.
The finest axiom for any quarterback to remember regarding voice is … the wrong play called properly has more chance of success than the right play called improperly. Without question a team can be unconsciously stimulated to greater efforts by the quarterback’s voice. A good voice is a necessity.
6. Alligator skin
A quarterback must be alligator-skinned to criticism from fans, alumni, and press. A field general must expect to receive a high percentage of unjust comments from unqualified sources. He must not let this affect his thinking or worry him at any time. He will make mistakes, but he should try to profit from them and not make the same mistake twice. He must not worry or brood over past mistakes, but look forward to the next contest with optimism. Always preach to the quarterback that mistakes are a thing of the past. If a quarterback learns to become thick skinned he can take considerable criticism and still do a good job of directing the team.
7. Loyal representative
The final quality and one of the most important is that of loyalty to the coach. The quarterback is responsible only to the head coach. He is a personal representative of his coach on the field. The quarterback should be clearly informed of this so that there is no doubt.