Author: Adam Wesoloski
Originally Published: October 25, 2004
In 2002 I made some significant changes to my offense from the double wing I ran in 2000. However I did stay true to the old-school direct snap mentality.
I was blessed with a talented bunch in 2000. I surmised that I probably would not be as fortunate in following seasons, so I went about simplifying and streamlining my playbook. I put a lot of time thinking about and studying details from all the direct snap offenses I could get my hands on: books, e-mail discussions with other coaches, information found on the Internet, etc.
One of my priorities was to work on the blocking we used in 2000. I was pleased with it but there were things about it that I found a little too much for the youth player. I wanted to find a way for them to not have to make little decisions at the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped. Depending on the defense we encountered, there were a few “if-then” statements the players had to determine in order to execute the play properly. We could encounter 4-man, 6-man, or some other type of defense on a weekly basis. Then we’d have work with our players for that specific defense.
With the help of my good friend, Coach Eric Strutz, from Richmond Illinois, he taught me the details of his blocking scheme he was using. I noticed that his playbook did not have defensive alignments for their plays. When I asked him about this I received an eye-popping education. What he was using was exactly what I was looking for, a blocking scheme where the offensive line did the same thing regardless of the defensive alignment. Their assignments may vary depending on the play but only slightly. It stressed angle blocking and aggressiveness. The concept was to down block on the play side and reach block on the back side. Pulling could be accomplished in either direction. Coupled with an unbalanced line this provided a powerful blocking scheme. It is relevant to point out that this scheme is very similar to the severe angle blocking (SAB) scheme.
With the way our league was set up we didn’t have room for a great deal of plays and practice time was quite limited to two nights per week equating to 4 hours. Also the roster was new each season. The players were placed into a general pool and the league organizers sort out the players into teams and coaches were assigned to a team. As a coach you have no idea who your players will be. Basically we began at ground zero each season. With such a minimal approach to the league our philosophy needed to reflect this minimalist approach as well.
I ultimately chose a new formation as well. I decided on the single wing formation that season. This included eliminating the split end position from my 2000 offenses. We continued to only use right formation. With the ball placed in the middle of of the field each play we were not handcuffed with hash mark ball placement. I also reduced my play selection to the bare minimum. I settled on the basic five single wing plays just about every single wing coach will require to make the single wing the single wing: off-tackle, sweep, optional running pass, interior fullback play, and wingback counter/reverse. I also had one additional play, a play where the blocking back had an opportunity to carry the ball.
An interesting formation detail I looked into as well was the placement of the wingback in our single wing. Eric Strutz’s formation was developed around the structure of legendary single wing coach John Aldrich’s Y-formation where the wingback is placed in between the outside tackle and tight end. I chose not use this alignment because I felt it was important to have my wingback on the flank just outside the tight end. I felt it was important for us because would help us a little more on this position’s assignments. Also we were not going to use a spin series where I felt the Y-formation alignment was more designed for. Maybe I was incorrect but it made sense to me.
Nuts and Bolts
One of my assistant coaches was a co-worker of mine who was a former offensive linemen in high school and a new comer to the coaching ranks. He immediately took charge of our linemen, stressing perfect 3-point stances and alignment in addition to good old-fashioned shoulder blocking techniques. With only a six play offensive attack, we were going to really work on solid fundamentals, techniques, and perfecting the details through considerable repetition.
We presented the offense to the players and their parents as Pop Warner’s offense, since this was a Pop Warner league. I reminded them that I didn’t have a son playing so I had no prejudices, that we were going to work on fundamentals and play everyone. We emphasized that with all things being equal with our opponents we were going to be the team with the best fundamentals, that we were going to be a little different and we’d embrace this as part of our identity as a team.
We had enough players for two offenses, Purple Wing and Black Wing, and we alternated them by series. Again we ran a no-huddle offense that we practiced a great deal so our team would outnumber our opponents in the number of plays we ran on offense. As the season wore on I asked the players what they thought had become our bread-and-butter play. The consensus was the fullback wedge play was our signature play, the play that we went to when we needed a key play. The sweep, off-tackle and blocking back keeper plays were successful as well. We didn’t a great deal of success with the wingback counter/reverse outside a couple of touchdowns. We didn’t pass very often either so we relied a great deal on the other four plays.
One of the interesting plays we used effectively was the buck lateral play in which the blocking back took a hand-off from the fullback and headed around end. This was very similar to our 2000 play in which our fullback/blocking back ran a spin and kept the football. I did not consider our new play as part of the buck lateral series, per se. To me it was part of our two play wedge series because it was such a formidable complimentary play to the powerful fullback wedge play. We often used this for extra point attempts and for picking up important first downs.
Our scoring in 2002 was lower than in 2000. However, we were much better at longer, sustained drives allowing our team to control the game pace and run a lot of plays. This was a team of grinders. Once again we lost only two games to the same team, although a different one than in 2000. We finished with four wins, and finished second, all our players had the opportunity to learn solid football fundamentals, learned how perform within a team concept and great deal of fun too.
Once again if you would like a copy of the full playbook, please click below.