Author: Jeff Pichotta
Originally Published: August 20, 2008
As I go over my spread quad series I am going to relate this offense to a chess board, specifically to the end game of a chess match.
While teaching chess I usually start by making sure players understand the end game as soon as possible. Studies have shown that kids enjoy chess much more when they know how to finish off a game when they get the lead.
Teaching end game in chess is very simple because I use the same strategies that I do when I am coaching on the field of battle in football. In chess once you get to the end game you have fewer pieces and need to examine the entire board to evaluate where your players are versus the other player’s pieces on the board.
I have been a traditionalist when it comes to single wing football which means that I tend to see single wing football very narrowly minded. Change is not one of those things that I have been taught to employ while running a true power single wing formation. So when I began devising a spread single wing attack, I wanted to make sure I was sticking with what I was taught to believe to be TRUE single wing football.
The following is a list of items which I believe are unchangeable single wing elements that must be employed in my quad spread single wing attack:
- Unbalanced Line
- Tight Splits/Double Team Blocking
- Power Game Threat
- Wedge Blocking/Run
- Plays Staying the Same
- Spin (Since I Believe in Full Spin)
- More Players at the Point of Attack
- Attack the Entire Field
- Create Space
So as I started putting this attack together one main thing I wanted out of all of these 10 items was Unfamiliarity! I felt that in order for me to keep with the basic theme of single wing football I needed a spread offense that would take just as much time to prepare for as my traditional single wing formation! I did not want to lose any of this when I spread the field. As a matter of fact, I wanted something that was so different that it would put more pressure on coaches by forcing them to know that besides my traditional single wing they now had to prepare for another UNFAMILIAR attack.
When teaching the end game in chess one of the first things you teach a player is to look for advantages on the board. For this example we will consider Pawn Endings only. The basic advantages we consider in end game which I used in my quads series are the following:
- Pawn Islands: This is where you have pawns that are separated from other pawns. These islands can be evenly matched or one side or the other can have advantages.
- Imbalances: When locating these pawn islands is there a material advantage, i.e. do you have more men, located within one or more of these islands on the board?
- Space/Positional Advantages: Using/finding space on the board within these islands in order to take advantage of mistakes the opponent may have made in terms of space or positioning of his pieces.
- Preparation: You can have all of the above advantages but if you are not prepared to see and utilize them you will not be successful. This involves knowing how to take advantage of the mistakes your opponent makes on the board.
So the philosophy of the quads spread single wing attack was created out of this main philosophy. I knew this philosophy would keep me true to single wing football while allowing my team to run the same plays we would normally run from our tight formations. By adding in the tactics of the end game in chess I was ready to put this all together to form what I feel is a very difficult single wing attack to defend. I started to devise my quad series attack by integrating the chess end game tactics with my 10 areas of single wing football. The first idea I really wanted to make sure and have in this attack was the UNFAMILIARITY.
We all know how the spread stuff looks. We have the 3×1, 2×2 and on and on. The reason I love the single wing is because it is different. So I was looking for something that was so unique that a team could not use any of their normal spread defenses.
In a nutshell I wanted something that would be so different that it would cause predictable mistakes. This allows us to practice taking advantage of those mistakes. Then, when it happens in a game our players could talk to us as in a chess end game because they had prepared themselves for those situations. Thus I came up with our Quad Series Spread Single Wing attack which we call Diamond Single Wing because of how we set things up on the field. Thus, the Diamond Attack was created.
Space + Islands = Attacking Entire Field
The reason for developing the quad attack was to spread out two kinds of teams: teams who felt we could not pass, and those 11 in the box teams. The main reason for going to the Diamond Quads was because we felt it allowed us to incorporate not only a very hard offense to defend via the pass but it also gave us a true single wing look with the power game.
I started to look at utilizing the use of space and islands within the Diamond Formation. One thing that I wanted to do was to use SPACE to actually form my own ISLANDS on the football field! This meant that a team could not just balance so easily as with other formations. I was going to use SPACE and ISLANDS to force teams to play me on 2-3 separate areas of the field just as in a chess endgame. What this meant was that we could attack at individual islands which would force a defense to separate themselves to the point where we could attack through the space that is created by having 2-3 distinct islands on the field.
By creating these islands in our Diamond attack it also allowed me to ISOLATE formations and play with less players based on using the island concept. As you can see below, if the diamond itself is away from the single wing formation itself a team must make a choice on placing enough players to defend the DIAMOND thus leaving less players to defend the single wing formation. If they do not defend correctly then we attack the Diamond AREA. So now we can actually have an attack on two separate fronts and in a sense we could play 7-7 football from the main single wing formation leaving the defense to waste players at Diamond formation and vice versa. (3 FRONTS WILL BE DISCUSSED LATER) This also forced a team to take a level away from the single wing formation which created more space for breakaway runs.
The importance of this attack becomes the SPACE or separation it creates, which allows for our finesse players to take advantage of from either the Diamond or the single wing formation. Another area of use from the Diamond was based on using the space created by using your hash-marks as focal points for beginning your offense. The Diamond formation can take different looks based on where the ball is and utilizes more space in different ways.
Another strength of the Diamond was creating space by staying in a wide DIAMOND or in a BUNCH DIAMOND.
So we can see that by using SPACE and ISLANDS as a strategy to attack the defense, we now allow ourselves to attack the ENTIRE FIELD as either one huge formation or in separate precise areas where we already know how to attack while the defense must struggle to defend an unfamiliar position.
UBL + Tight splits + Double Team Blocking = Power Game/Wedge Threat
Now that we have established our Diamond formation, I wanted to make sure that I still had a true single wing formation, which included all of the above qualities that I feel are truly single wing football. Besides making sure that I had a single wing formation, I also wanted a strong power game, which I feel you lose when you use typical spread formations.
After making the decision to keep all of my plays the same from the line as well as in the backfield the decision was made Not to change anything on the main ISLAND by keeping the island unbalanced, tight splits and to utilize double teams as we did in our tight formations.
What we really liked about this was that we could now keep our same strong power game from our traditional single wing formation while having a huge threat of the pass. Now, we created not only a finesse formation but, also a power formation that allowed us to run every single play in our playbook with the same threat of the wedge, buck seams and pulling players to the POA that we would normally run. The only difference now was that the game was now 7-7 if we chose to play the power game with the main island we created. If a team decides to worry about the pass by spreading their team apart because of the DIAMOND FORMATION, we could hit them hard with wedge, buck seams, sweeps etc.
As you can see we now have our Diamond Spread Single Wing attack which can be changed in many ways as we will discuss in part 2.
We now need to see if our formation can force imbalances by just being the DIAMOND ATTACK. To try and create imbalances we kept the same plays we had before in our full-spin. The question then becomes how do we take care of the other single wing issues in our DIAMOND ATTACK.
We decided that by using motion we were able to utilize 3 possible backs from the Diamond Formation at any given time, which allows us to still run our full-spin, jet series etc. and cause even more imbalances.
The last imbalance that the DIAMOND ATTACK creates just as a formation is the use of balanced, UBL/UBR and by going tight or wide with the strong-side tight end.
Or use that tight end in the backfield or as a BB.
In the end we felt very confident that the Diamond Attack was a formation that we wanted to use as a series or main formation. We strongly feel that if utilized correctly this offense is very difficult to defend because of the areas we discussed above.
One main area that this is completely different than other spread formations is staying with the single wing toe-toe splits. In fact I feel strongly this is what makes this a very strong pass or run formation.