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Notre Dame Box

What is Notre Dame Box?

A variant of the “single wing” offensive formation that featured a balanced line, with the halfback brought in tighter with the option of shifting to the wing.

Sporting Charts explains Notre Dame Box

The Notre Dame box came to prominence with, unsurprisingly, the Notre Dame college football team in the early part of the century, providing an alternative to the single wing with more emphasis on passing. With the line balanced and the halfback pulled more closely in, the alignment of the backs resembled a square, or “box.” The proximity of the halfback to the quarterback made running plays to either the weak or strong side more viable. And because the center could snap the ball directly to the quarterback, the pass became more of an option. The halfback could motion out to the wing, or remain close to the backs and act as a blocker.

With changes to the rules regarding motion and shifts, most notably the requirement that players be in formation for one full second before going into motion, the single wing and its variants have become more unattractive to modern teams.

The Notre Dame box was used most effectively by the Green Bay Packers teams of the 1920s and 1930s. The Packers used the formation to propel them to three straight championships from 1929-1931. Although it is more or less obsolete in modern football, the formation continues to persist in Canadian football and high school programs.

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