Offensive Game Planning and Thought Progression by Formation

Jun 20, 2021 | Offense, Installation Methods, Game Planning

By Dylan Ziegler
Offensive Coordinator
Beaver Dam High School (WI)




Many offenses are condensing the number of formations in their playbook to make things simpler for their players. Only running plays out of 2-4 formations avoids errors in your offensive alignment. However, I believe this allows the defense to have very few checks, to diagnose certain plays, and take certain things away from the offense. We have not had the benefit of having the talent to overpower our opponents, so we had to find a different way to get easy yards. The coaching staff at Beaver Dam High School has developed a system of tagging formations. Each tag affects the alignment of very few people on offense. I believe this gives us an advantage because we make very few alignment errors while forcing the defense to be ready for a multitude of formations. The tags are the same no matter what formation they are attached to which makes it easier for the players to align properly while also keeping the offense truly diverse.


Base Formations

We have three base formations:







We can attach tags to any of the base formations (and at times, two tags to a formation) to create an arsenal of alignments.


Formation Tags

We have 19 tags in total, but we certainly do not use all the tags every year. Some tags are designed for a QB that is more of a throwing threat than as a running threat and vice versa. We also have tags that are designed to take advantage of the different skill sets of personnel at the wing, tailback, and Y position. We focus on how we can put our players in the best position for that year and stick to those tags. For this report, I will focus on our most commonly used tags. Below is a chart matching the tag and formation adjustment:

Tag Formation Adjustment
King Wing moves to strength (keeps wing alignment)
Empty T moves to WR split on the weak side
Split Wing aligns in the backfield, offset the QB to the strong side of the formation
Bunch Wing moves to king position, the two WR’s move to “snug” position to condense the formation. Create an off the LOS, on LOS, off LOS “bunch”.
Tight WR’s to weak side tighten splits to condense the formation (does not apply to Twins formation)
Devil X or Y (depending on base formation) and wing "stack" in the slot and Z split to Y's normal alignment. (Does not apply to Pro formation)
Out Wing takes WR split
Trips  Wing moves to strength with a WR split
Stack WR's to the same side of formation will align one WR in front of the other. Their split will be the midpoint between their normal alignment (their split can change slightly based on the concept) (Does not apply to Pro formation)
Jack Wing goes to “king” alignment. T moves “king” alignment just inside the wing
Jill T moves to a "queen" (wings natural alignment) alignment inside of the wing