winning-single-wing-football
Author: Ted Seay
Originally Published: June 14, 2004

I am submitting my thoughts on Dr. Keuffel’s brand-new book below, and I encourage everyone here to do the same. Which means I encourage EVERYONE to buy this book…

Winning Single Wing Football
is a complete revision of Dr. Keuffel’s classic 1964 Simplified Single Wing Football (or SSWF, which I will contrast with the newer WSWF). Written an astonishing 40 years later, WSWF starts with the core of the unbalanced-line single wing offense that SSWF first presented, then adds much more. The irony to me is that WSWF is actually far more “simplified” than SSWF. It is as though with 40 additional years of experience to draw on, Dr. Keuffel has pared away all but the absolutely essential information.

After a brief introductory chapter that outlines his playing, coaching and teaching careers, Dr. K walks the prospective single wing coach through all the steps needed to get an offense up and running. He does so in a way that reflects credit on his Ph.D. in English from Penn — simply and logically. I know of no other coach able to impart the basics of setting up a single wing attack in only 10 pages, but Dr. Keuffel manages this in the second chapter of WSWF. He follows this with an elegantly simple description of how to teach linemen to be single wing centers. (In the process, Dr. K highlights the necessity for training several centers, but without scaring coaches away. This is a skill that can be taught with sufficient application and attention to detail — it isn’t rocket science.) All other positions receive the same treatment in chapter three.

Next Dr. Keuffel gets to the heart of the single wing offense, the straight series running plays. Coaches who have seen SSWF will notice the first of Dr. K’s major simplifications here with the very first play — Play 48, the straight-series off-tackle play. Where before Dr. Keuffel ran two different variations of this play, one with linemen pulling and leading, and a separate goal-line variation with solid blocking and the blocking back kicking out the EMLOS defender, he now only uses the goal-line version. Time after time in WSWF, Dr. Keuffel extols the benefits of “getting two for one” — i.e., teaching one thing that you can use in two or more situations. He leaves the door open, however, for others to do things differently. Readers are free to go back to the original pulling scheme for Play 48, or even to adapt the Steve Calande method of pulling the backside guard and tackle, the water boy, and the larger members of the cheer squad through the off-tackle hole.

Chapter 5 lays out the fun stuff, the indirect attack. Dr. Keuffel details the methods behind the FB full and half spin sequences, as well as a complementary TB half-spin cycle. He also strongly urges selectivity in choosing cycles — more is most definitely not better when choosing which indirect cycles to run, especially given limited practice time. Again, the astonishing thing to me is that Dr. Keuffel is able to impart an entire lecture on indirect-series single wing football in only ten pages.

Next, the section dearest to my wild-eyed heart — the passing game. Chapter 6 covers the basics of passer development, setting up dropback protection, variations on dropback route packages, teaching the running pass, and then explores the arcana of reverse passes, special passes (a jump pass, a shovel pass, etc.), and fake passes, including the legendary Statue of Liberty play. Again, Dr. Keuffel’s interest in simplification leaps off the page with his new versions of the optional running pass (Plays 79 and 99). Where before he released three receivers strongside (WB, TE, and BB), he now adds a strongside blocker and releases either the wing and blocking back (Play 79) or the wing and TE (Play 99). He makes explicit mention of his decision to do so and the reasons which drove his decision, which leaves the way open for coaches to do it the old way — or even adopt a more modern method. The Andrew Coverdale/Dan Robinson Bunch Attack book and video feature a Flood route package which is perfect for adaptation to the single wing optional running pass. Using such modular methods (including 30-degree, “severe-angle” blocking) allows coaches to continue to modernize and personalize their single wing attack. (Note: The thoughts on Bunch passing and SAB are mine, but I believe they fit perfectly with the methods Dr. Keuffel uses to teach his offense.)

Chapter 7 presents the quick-kicking game, which can be a tactical weapon of great value whether your opponent expects it or not, and which can allow a team to out-think a more talented opponent by forcing him to drive the length of the field if he wants to score. There is a wide array of fake quick-kick plays — runs, passes, even a screen and a Statue — and something of even greater potential value, a way to further simplify your entire kicking game. Dr. Keuffel advocates using quick kick protection for punts, field goals and extra points, unbalanced line and all. This could be a real time-saver during pre-season installation, and as with all unusual variations, might cause your opponents to waste valuable practice time preparing for them.

To me, the most important section of the book starts with Chapter 8 and runs through Chapter 10. Here is where Dr. Keuffel’s decades of experience truly shine through — he discusses the smallest details of pre-game strategy and mid-game tactical adjustments. He tells coaches exactly how to use the spotter in the booth, how to break down film, and how to create and use a game plan. It is among the finest discussions of coaching strategy and tactical application during the game that I have ever seen. I would advocate purchasing this book to offensive coaches of all stripes for these three chapters alone. The effective use of variations — in formation, cadence, alignment, personnel — pre-season preparations, and focusing on and exploiting defensive weaknesses, are all addressed with Dr. Keuffel’s typical economy of expression. This book is pure gold, whether you run single wing or five-wide shotgun spread, because he teaches coaches how to think.

I will clearly have to order another copy from Dr. Keuffel to keep, because my “working copy” is already highlighted in three different colors…now if I can just get him to autograph the next one.

Ted Seay