Authors: Steve Popovich & Ted Seay
Originally Published: December 20, 2004
A Direct Snap Supplement to the Double Wing Offense
The SST is a synthesis of the double and single wings and the shotgun. Simply put, we can run most of the double wing plays, with equal power, and still have a fairly strong, variable passing threat that doesn’t require play-action which is ineffective in situations where we must pass and everybody knows it.
The SST formation resembles the double wing and most of the runs are very obviously taken directly from that powerful running set but, as with a single wing attack, one player assumes the multiple rolls of passer and main runner on power plays and runs both wingback and fullback plays.
Although the SST does not “spread” the defense, as most shotgun formations like to do, veteran double wingers realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat. In youth football, most defensive coaches prefer to rely on pressure rather than coverage to defeat the pass. Spreading out five receivers, with minimal blocking, plays directly into their hands. Additionally, the SST offers a built in “Bunch” passing attack but also allows us to split out our best receiver, protect with eight or nine blockers, and simply chuck the ball to that excellent athlete. More often than not, that strategy is much more effective in late game situations than trying to give the quarterback many targets (and many potential moments of confusion and hesitation).
Because our quarterback sets his feet to pass, brings up the ball and looks downfield, we are, in a sense, using pass play-action to set up most of our base runs. Although our double tight, T-snap double wing has rarely been contained (we’ve led our 18-team league in points scored the last two years and have never finished lower than third with this offense), a good defensive scheme, combined with good athletes, can make our job difficult. Switching formations, especially to a very different flavor, can destroy the tidy program devised by the opponent. Doing so while still keeping the linemen’s assignments unchanged, while opening up the threat of a pass, and while putting the ball in the hands of our best athletes, just makes sense.
The base SST set has two tight ends and two wings. Our quarterback is set at four yards deep directly behind center. Our top receiver is flanked to either side. Stances are a matter of choice. We prefer a two-point stance for all 11 players, adjusted to position requirements (i.e. the flanker may take a more open stance than the wings or linemen).
In the Gun Right formation (fig. 1), our fullback aligns as the left wing, our usual C-Back aligns as the flanker and the A-Back moves to the right wing (slot) with the quarterback dropping back. This is purely dependent on personnel choices and may be accomplished by, for instance, removing the fullback and replacing him with a kid who can catch, flanking the quarterback (if he happens to be a great receiver), moving the A-Back to quarterback (if he is a good passer and runner) and working from there. Ideally, the fewer changes in personnel, the better, but the point is to put the best kids at positions that fit their talents and abilities with as few changes in assignments as possible.
It may be necessary to flip-flop the backfield players when aligning in Gun Left (fig. 2), if your fullback-type is the only guy who can execute a good kickout block. Flipping tight ends may also be a good idea, since the X end is not used much as a receiver.
In most cases, the fullback goes in motion down the line toward the flanker-side and the quarterback will call for the ball as he passes the midline, but he may be motioned to any width desired or no motion may be called for.
The SST Running Game
The SST base runs are pure double wing; Toss, Wedge, G, Trap, Counter, Sweep. A single wing flavor can be added by motioning the fullback or wingback toward the quaterback (who can then execute spin plays) and, if a more complete conversion is desired, the flanker can remain inside as a single wing blocking back.
In any case, the blocking of the double wing plays can remain identical to that run from the T-snap set in nearly every case.
Our main power play is the off-tackle Toss play (88/99 Power or Super Power in the Wyatt system) but, of course, there’s no toss. The quarterback simply fields the direct snap, sets his feet to pass, brings up the ball and looks downfield for a second. This allows the pulling linemen to get ahead of him. He then tucks the ball and runs just like the wingback would on the normal play. It doesn’t matter if the quarterback is left-handed or right-handed; he can set as he would on any pass and then fall into the flow of the play. (Figure 3.)
8 Super Power
Against certain defenses, we might want to run our G plays. They begin like our power play but hit inside of the C gap with the fullback and back side guard leading through the hole. (Figure 5)
We run our great trap as a draw, which is not as deceptive as the normal fullback trap but can still be effective in the right situation. In Fig. 6, the Trap is shown with longer motion by the fullback than typical, giving the defense more of a pass read.
Obviously, misdirection suffers in this set, but can be compensated for by running the standard double wing inside counter. Shown in Fig. 7, the fullback blocks out on the defensive end but, if that man is not a problem, the fullback can stop and lead back on the counter, making it a much more powerful play (Fig. eight).
Counter – Fullback Lead
Although it is technically a pass, we can also run the counter play, without motion or with extended motion, as a shovel pass. This is one of my favorite plays from double wing spread and can be incredibly effective if either the back side cornerback or outside linebacker goes in motion with the fullback. (Figure 9.)
Counter – Shovel Pass
The SST Passing Game
The pass route packages below form a core dropback passing attack for the SST. Although many more pass plays can be added, it is better to perfect a few things than to run many fairly well. The same holds true with the play-action pass off of the Sweep run action.
With the exception of the Flood play-pass, the dropback passes can be blocked in an identical fashion. The fullback blocks the first rusher past the playside tackle. The line will block a lineman over them (outside shoulder to inside shoulder). The first lineman inside the playside tackle who has a “bubble” over him (i.e., no lineman, either a linebacker or nobody at all) will slide back side to block his inside gap with shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. The fullback must be aware of potential blitzers through the bubble, and must check the bubble for danger rushers on his way to block the end defender on the line of scrimmage.
In all the pass route packages, a primary and secondary read are given for the quarterback. There should never be a situation where the quarterback needs to take more than two reads before throwing the ball. If neither read is open, he should either tuck the ball and run, or else throw it away.
Wingback (A-Back) runs a quick Shoot route a yard deep, snapping his head around to look for the ball as soon as he breaks outside; playside tight end (Y) runs a Stick route, breaking outside at +6 yards, while the flanker (C-Back) runs a Go route straight downfield, looking for the ball over his inside shoulder.
Quarterback’s first read is the flanker — if he can run past coverage, throw him the ball. Otherwise, the quarterback checks down to the first underneath defender inside the playside cornerback. The quarterback wants to throw the Stick route to Y — the Shoot route to the A-Back becomes a reaction if the short defender takes the Stick route away. The back side tight end (X) can either stay in and block, or if the safety starts overplaying the Stick route, X can release on a quick Post route for a sure touchdown.
This pass route package releases four receivers, leaving six men to block. The quarterback needs to be aware he may get a backside rush with X releasing on a pass route.
The flanker/C-Back runs a deep Flag route, cutting at about 12 yards and looking for the ball over his outside shoulder right away. Both X and the wingback/A-Back run Shallow Cross routes, with the A-Back crossing high and X low (this will rub any man defender off X). Y runs a Middle Read route. He heads straight downfield looking for the nearest safety. If there are two he should split them, running right in between. If there are no safeties he continues straight downfield, looking for the ball over his inside shoulder. If there is a deep middle safety who loses ground to stay deeper than Y, he should hook back toward the quarterback at about +15 yards deep.
The quarterback looks first to the C-back’s Flag route, then down to X’s Shallow Cross. If both are covered, he goes to Y’s Middle Read route.
Against some teams releasing four receivers on a regular basis will not be easy. Against those teams, B Cross is a good alternative to Kentucky Mesh. B now runs the Shallow Cross route. The quarterback reads the C-Back/flanker, the B-Back, and if necessary the A-Back/wingback. If the quarterback feels blitz pressure, he can throw right away to the A-Back’s Shoot route. With seven blockers, though, you should see too many blitz situations that you can’t handle.
The guards cannot pull past the line of scrimmage in case the quarterback pulls up and passes. The blocks that Y, the A-Back/wingback and C-Back/flanker throw in a regular Sweep play become pass routes. The quarterback should look first for the quick Shoot route in the playside flat by the A-Back. If he is open, throw the ball. If not, look for the Flag route by Y. Finally, tucking the ball in case the defensive backs drop back to cover the pass routes is built into the play automatically.
Steve Popovich and Ted Seay