There is a lot of talk now of how people are using Single Wing principles to enliven their run game. Whether it is the overloaded formations, wildcat groupings, or misdirection backfields, these age-old systems keep finding their way back to all levels of football. Could this fit in your offense?
By Dan Woolley
Scott High School (KY)
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There is a lot of talk now of how people are using Single Wing principles to enliven their run game. Whether it is the overloaded formations, wildcat groupings, or misdirection backfields, these age-old systems keep finding their way back to all levels of football.
When I became the Head Coach of Scott High School (KY), their football program had accumulated 76 total wins over a 34 year span. It was apparent that if we were going to be successful we needed to do something unique, simple, and fundamentally sound. The Single Wing concept provided all of those attributes and more.
Since implementing our modified Single Wing offense, we have gone 18-14 and have rushed for an average of 6.94 yard/carry, rushed for 301.64 yards/ game. More importantly, we have outscored opponents by an average of 10 points a game over that time period. Here are a few of the reasons that the Single Wing has helped create such a large turn around.
Unique: We are the only one in our state (that I know of) that runs the offense. This means that opposing teams are unfamiliar with the offense and don’t have a ‘standard’ answer for playing us. Most teams will not run their base defense against us. Instead, they have players have to change positions and/or responsibilities, which causes them to play slower. Since opposing team’s only has 3 days to prepare, this can become a huge advantage.
Proven: The single wing has been around for over 100 years and has been run at all levels. Teams nationwide run this on the high school level and have recently won state titles running the Single Wing including nationally ranked Apopka High School in Florida.
Identity: Our kids have bought in to this system and its physicality. They enjoy this style of play, but more so, the success that has come since its implementation. In today’s world of 7 on 7’s and spread happy offenses, many players are not used to this physical brand of football and are not used to getting the ball run at them for four straight quarters. This can physically and mentally wear down a team.
Numbers: Many times spread coaches talk about counting numbers in the box to create an advantage. We think of our single wing the same way. In our base formation, we line up with 10 players in the box. If we have a numbers advantage in the box, we are content to run the ball. If we don’t have a numbers advantage in the box, then that means that there is no safety and we will try to throw the ball over their heads.
Unbalanced: With our unbalanced set, we look for the side where we have a numbers advantage to and attack that side of the formation. It is important to remember that we use a lot of pullers in our offense. This allows us to get another man or two to the point of attack even if we have a pre-snap disadvantage at the side of attack.
No QB, No Problem: Since we have started running this offense we have had traditional QBs at the varsity level, but we know from experience that this will not always be the case. When that prototype QB isn’t available, we can plug in a running back without changing schemes. In the true single wing, there is no true QB, but instead a running back who receives the direct snap from center. Having a true QB does help as throwing the ball loosens the defense up, but replacing the QB with another running back can end up getting you an extra blocker at the point of attack.
Simple: The simplicity of this offense and the power it provides in the run game allows teams to not change much when they are in short yardage or goal line situations. This offense is built to drive the ball out from under the shadow of the goal line and punch it in when we get close.
Blitz Killer: Because our standard splits are less than one foot, there are no natural gaps for defenses to exploit. For that reason, most teams do not blitz or stunt against us.
Our base formation is an overbalanced line with a guard and two tackles to the strong side and a guard and TE on backside (Diagram 1). The offensive line is off the ball as much as is legally possible to aid in pulling and avoid cutting techniques by the defense. The wide receiver (R) aligns to the strong side along with a wing (B) who is lined up one yard by one yard off of the outside tackle. The QB is aligned directly behind the center with heels at 5 yards. The tailback’s (A) base alignment is 1 yard to the side of the QB and 2 feet behind the QB. The most unique position in this offense is our fullback (also known as a sniffer). He is lined up anywhere from the middle of the A gap to the middle of the B gap, depending on the play, and about 1 yard behind the linemen.
QB: As mentioned before, this player can be a traditional QB or more of a running back. Different skill sets allow you to do different things.
A: Traditional tailback. He needs to be able to run the power and the sweep, but he cannot be afraid to stick his nose in the hole even if there isn’t one and try to make positive yards.
B: This player can either be a home run hitter on the counter or a good blocker. Once again, different skill sets open up different facets of the offense.
R: Traditional WR. Needs to be able to block and catch. A plus is someone who cannot be covered by one player.
L: Our last two tight ends have been offensive linemen who were a little on the small side. Needs to be able to block down to backer, double team with guard, and reach a DE.
F: Most of our FBs are ‘glorified guards.’ The ability to kick out the DE on the Power is the #1 requirement for this position. If he cannot kick out DE, the offense won’t be successful.
Center: Our center’s number one requirement is to be able to snap consistently. Most of the time he is blocking to the backside, so being a powerful blocker is not a requirement.
Weak Guard: This player needs to be able to pull to strong side and pick up outside LB on Power. Doesn’t have to be a drive blocker, but definitely has to be athletic.
Strong Guard: Needs to be big enough to single block a defensive lineman and get movement but agile enough to pull on sweep and counter.Inside Tackle: This is usually our strongest lineman and drive blocker. The inside tackle does not pull in our system. We want a road grader here who is going to get vertical movement.
Outside Tackle: This player must be athletic enough to double/chip to backer and reach the DE on a sweep.
What You’re Missing…
Join X&O Labs’ exclusive membership website, Insiders, and get instant access to the full-length version of Coach Woolley’s clinic report. Here’s just a short list of what you’re missing in the full-length report:
- Player responsibilities and techniques associated with the Power Strong concept, including the “window” variations that Coach Woolley uses against a 6-technique play side.
- Player responsibilities and techniques associated with the Sweep Strong concept, which is a complement of the Power scheme.
- Player responsibilities and techniques associated with the Sweep Weak concept, used when defenses start to over shift to the strong side.
- Player responsibilities and techniques associated with the Counter Criss Cross concept, including what he does to reduce fumbles on the mesh exchange.
- Player responsibilities and techniques associated with the Wedge concept, which utilizes 6-7 players at the point of attack.
- VIDEO: Watch Coach Woolley’s game film on all these concepts.
These five plays are not only the cornerstone of our offense, but they are a nice entry point for any team looking to add some single wing concepts to their current attack. We have found that this scheme allows us to use the kids we have and create the type of football culture that we want to build. I hope you are able to use some of these concepts and thanks for taking the time to read.
Meet Coach Woolley: Dan Woolley has been the Head Coach at Scott High School in Taylor Mill, KY since 2012. Taking over a program that hand only one winning season in 35 years, Coach Woolley has posted an 18-14 record in 3 years. During this time his teams have rushed for 9,846 yards for an average of 6.88 yards per rush. Coach Woolley is a 2002 Graduate of Georgetown College and has previously coached at Lloyd Memorial High School (Erlanger, KY).