In all my research, over a span of several years, the finest advice I have ever read on quarterback leadership came from my buddy Frank Carideo. The purpose of this information was to summarize the process by which a quarterback was educated at Notre Dame, under coach Knute Rockne. This class of quarterbacking was exacting in many respects as any collegiate course.
Coach Rockne had seven cardinal principles of quarterbacking that were preached over and over again.
1. A Quarterback must keep a cocky air at all times.
a. You want your Quarterback to show other teams that he knows what he will do next–there is not a little doubt in his mind about what he will perform on the next play.
b. You need his facial expressions to indicate to a team and your opponents’ team that he not only knows what he is going to do next, but that he will do it successfully, for all that they can do to stop him.
C. Be sure he knows that this is just an air. It’s a role he’s playing. It isn’t himself that you want to be cocky; it’s the Quarterback. You don’t want your boys to be too cocky. There is a limitation, and he should know it.
He might offend the members of his own team. His job is to irritate the members of the other group, not his own. You want 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 is 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 team as the control of one who is about to lead his army somewhere to a definite objective. You want it to be recognized by the enemy as the voice of a person 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 variant of the first. You need your Quarterback to understand what he will do next and to do it. You don’t need him to show at any time, at any time whatever, he is in doubt about his next move. Additionally, you don’t need him to show that he is worried or communicate such a feeling to his group. Stress 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 at all times and ask himself the question: Who made the tackle? Also those that were not in on the tackles. Try to observe any glaring weakness in the defensive line or in the secondary.
5. If plays gain ground they should be used until the defense changes about to fulfill them. There’s no law against returning to the successful plays later on if circumstances warrant.
6. The sixth law comes into the sphere of generalship and plan. At all times the Quarterback must keep 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 those that are to follow successful. This, of course, necessitates a quarterback’s looking a long way forward.
7. The seventh and final law is one of precaution. Whenever in doubt, your Quarterback should do one of two things. The most natural is to kick. The other would be to call time out and ask the linemen for advice regarding the alignment and characteristics of the defensive linemen. More often you will punt when in doubt. Punting is nearly always the safe process.