Honoring Maryland’s Most Memorable Season: Tatum’s Split-T Conquers Missouri

On September 19, 1953, the #9-ranked Terrapins made the trip to Columbia, Missouri, to face the Missouri Tigers. Although the game was the first of the season, it carried a surprising background and history. The contest was played at Faurot Field, named after Don Faurot, the former long-time coach of the Tigers. During his time at Missouri, Faurot was credited with developing the split-T formation that became very popular during the 1940s and 1950s. The formation basically featured three running backs lined up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback. Coincidentally when Faurot moved on to coach the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks during World War II, a young assistant coach named Jim Tatum picked up the split-T formation and perfected it, using it extensively with the Oklahoma Sooners in 1946. By the time Tatum accepted the coaching position at Maryland in 1947, he had a strong grasp of how to punish defenses with the revolutionary formation, and on September 19, 1953, Tatum would use his split-T to have his way with the Tigers’ defense all over Faurot Field.

-Dick Nolan makes a grab for 13 yards
-Dick Nolan makes a grab for 13 yards

Maryland’s running attack dominated the game, accumulating 225 total yards on the ground compared to Missouri’s 99 yards. Running back Chet “The Jet” Hanulak racked up 113 of Maryland’s rushing yards and also scored a touchdown in the contest. More impressive, though, was that Hanulak was able to gain 113 yards on just 9 carries. That’s an average of 12 and a half yards per carry! Maryland threw for another 86 yards in the game. Despite 3 fumbles and an interception by the offense, Maryland’s defense held their ground with four interceptions of their own, and the Terps were able to come out on top, winning by a score of 20-6.

-Marty Crytzer in pursuit leading Maryland's ferocious defense
-Marty Crytzer in pursuit leading Maryland’s ferocious defense

Click here to view the complete summary of game statistics – Maryland vs. Missouri stat sheets

Missouri stat summary

Make sure to check back next week as Maryland faces Washington and Lee for their first home game of the season at Byrd Stadium.


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