Originally Published: March 24, 2008
Author: Denis Cronin

Deron Bayer, the Keynote Speaker of the 08 Conclave declared, “We’re simple because we’re simple.” It’s a great statement. One that makes coaches stop and take stock of what they are doing.

How much is too much? When does more become counter productive? Are you fooling them or us? Questions we all should ask of ourselves from time to time.

A good Single Wing Buddy, Sean Orr, said to me, in jest (I think), “I couldn’t play for you in that offense.” He meant that we appear to be very complex in what we do and there must be a lot of coaching to get our kids to execute it all so well.

Yet we are much like Coach Bayer in our approach. We have found a way to show the defense many series and looks that is easily taught to our players.

Being schooled mostly in Wing-T and Single Wing, I learned the backfield footwork is very important to the success of many play series. The first step by each player has a purpose in the smooth operation of the play. You can’t run a great buck sweep with lousy footwork. Nor can you run the splendid spinner plays of the single wing if the backs don’t take the proper steps.

From this concept springs our teaching. All of our backs learn the basic steps of each position. Our TBs, FBs/QBs, and WBs, all learn basic single wing foot work. We teach the steps that make up the series we run. We start with On the Line Drills.

On the Line Drills

One Step Drill

All RBs take one step and recover (“Bird Dog”) Open Step
Cross-over Step
Spit Step
Lead Step
Load Step
Step @ 2
Step @ 7
Spit Step & Gather

Spin Drill

Full spin progression (difficult to do these steps slowly)
Spit Step & Spin
Step @ 2 & Spin
Step @ 7 & Spin

Spit & Gather – Half Spin Progression
Spit & Gather Right
Spit & Gather Left

Every back is cross trained at each position until he finds a niche. Not all kids can be smooth ball handlers, not all of them are great at catching lead snaps, and not every kid can make that tough cut on an inside reverse. Our kids find their niche through our foot work progression and other drills. We drill these steps every day in preseason and review them at least once a week during the season. How well a player executes the footwork will help us determine where he plays and what series we will run. When we teach a series of plays we just plug in the foot work and drill the hell out of it.

We begin our teaching of plays by coaching the series first. The basic alignment of the backs and the footwork to be used in the series are taught and drilled without a ball during our Individual Period at our Footwork Station.

Individual Practice Period

Our concept of the “Individual Practice Period” is a bit different. Our backs rotate through three individual Stations.

  1. Blocking Station – All backfield blocks are taught and drilled.
  2. Passing Station – All basic pass routes and passing skills are taught (every back and end learn the pass routes in our offense)
  3. Series/Footwork Station – take basic alignment and footwork and apply it to the series. Early in the year this is a 30 minute period with three 10 minute rotations. Each group of players spends 10 minutes at each station.

We like this for a couple of reasons. It gives our coaches a chance to see every kid come through his station and assess the player’s skills at that station. Saves time in set up. Coaches and players aren’t wasting time setting up the next drill. Allows us to make an honest judgment of a players overall skills. Last every coach is coaching!

3 Station Indy Drill

We then begin to install plays. Our plays are installed in the Group Periods. The first period is Inside Run – Traps, Seam Bucks, Wedges, and Counters. The Next Period is Outside Run – Sweeps, Off Tackle, Options and Run/Pass Options. Third period is Pass Period – Play Action and Drop Back.


One of the keys to our simplicity is we move our ball handler to accommodate the series. Our ball handler aligns on a different “Spot”, but uses the same footwork and techniques. The “3 Spot” is the traditional Fullback position and the “4 Spot” is the Tailback position in the Single Wing.

We run three different half spin series. In all three, our ball handler is the same player aligned on a different spot or half spinning in a different direction. Consider that we flip our formations right and left and we have the appearance of six types of half spin actions to the defense. Our players are doing the same thing either half spinning right or left!

QB aligns strong on the 3 (FB) spot for Half Spin Strong and Half Spin towards WB.

QB aligns Weak on 4 (TB) spot for weak side Half Spin.

The ability to move the ball handler allows us to do what T formation teams can’t — start the play from a different location. Yet like the T formation’s quarterback, our ball handler remains constant for most series. Not all series. We run power and reverses with a lead snap to our TB or our ball handler.

Because we align on different spots we have the advantage of aligning our best back in the best spot to run Sweep weak or strong without tipping our hand. Our best passer is put in a position to throw the play action or drop back passes. And the best short yardage back may be put in the position to run wedge or seam buck plays.

We mirror all series except the Spin series. There are only so many minutes and trying to keep it simple we feel that Spin is best run only one way due to all the footwork required.

We run half spin weak, half spin strong, and half spin by the 3(FB) spot towards the WB in motion. Next season we plan to include half by the 4 (TB) spot towards the WB in motion (much like the “T” series).

We run some Jet series with flat motion and our ball handler has no new foot work to learn.

Drop Back Pass

Our drop back pass technique is a bit different than shotgun. We have our passer take a “Spit” step forward to catch the ball. This insures that our passer is not bailing out on the snap and he is concentrating first on catching the ball from the center. It also helps freeze the LBers, (we call it the “Tebow Effect”), is it pass or run. Our passer the takes his drop by pushing off the “Spit” step

Our backs only need to learn which spot they align on, 3(FB) spot or 4 (TB) spot for each series all of our foot work and ball handling remains the same.

We believe that we have found a way to present the defense with many looks and allow our kids to learn a few basic maneuvers. The less you have to learn, the more reps you get, the better you execute what you do.

A multiple yet simple single wing.