Author: Ken Keuffel
Originally Published: July 30, 2004

When most people think of a balanced offense, they think of a relatively even percentage of yards gained rushing to yards gained passing. However, I think of this term in a different way. I think of a balanced offense as one that can give you the plays you need to get a first down or to win a game, regardless of the statistics involved. As a side note here, I will mention that last year the New England Patriots achieved a record number of victories in a row and won the Super Bowl although they ranked 27th in the NFL in yardage gained rushing. When that team needed a running play, apparently they often chose one on which their players could do an efficient job.

Now I will go through a single wing offense, discussing which plays I might use to achieve the desired result. Since most of the readers of this article are familiar with my new book (2004), Winning Single Wing Football, I will designate plays by name and also mention the pages or chapters where I have discussed them in my book.

Let’s begin with what we might use in short yardage when we want to make a first down or a touchdown. For me the fullback wedge (pp.44-45) and the off-tackle (Play No.48, pp.35-36) would be two of the plays that I would choose first.

If the defense was jammed to the inside, or featuring a lot of blitzes by the linebackers, I would want to use something that would get outside in a hurry: e.g., the end run (Play No.49, pp.36-37), the solo play (pp.45-46), the fullback or zip sweep (pp.88-89), or play No.79, the running pass (pp.62-63). I do not say these are the only choices I might make, but at least they are intelligent ones.

If there was a big gap in the defensive line, I would turn to seam bucks (pp.41-45). If you face a looping line, you might think about using the fullback wedge, regardless of down and distance.

When you positively have to run the ball, you must find plays that will get the job done. Please see my discussion on pp.110-111 “Stay With What’s Successful.”

Remember that if you are running an effective single wing offense, you will be posing a dangerous threat to the strongside with end runs, off-tackle plays, running passes, and the like. For this reason, many teams will use some sort of an overshift to defend against you. Therefore, you must be able to run effectively either an inside reverse (Play No.43 pp.38-39), or an outside reverse (Play No.21 power, pp.40-41), or the solo play (pp.45-46), or the fullback weakside attack featuring option or sweep (pp.88-90).

If your opponent is slow to set up a defense against your left formation, you should think about running something on a quick count like an end run or Q sweep (p.89).

If you are having trouble during a game, you might think about using a variation of the basic formation that you have prepared that week (see chapter eight). In addition, sometimes a blocking back false key play will help you get started (see chapter 10).

When you must make a first down, a good suggestion might be the pro pass (p.60) or delay 8 pass (p.71). If you are faced with a 2-deep defense I would suggest a play like 80-divide wing (p.69). Against a man-for-man secondary defense, I would choose a play like 80-2 cross (p.68) or 30-ends cross pass (p.70). When teams start rotating their secondary on wingback motion, you should think about 20 counter pass (pp.69-70) or the 21 double reverse (pp.54-55).



If you are faced with an aggressive pass rush, you might think about the Statue (p.75-76), the fullback screen (p.75), or the draw play (p.73).

Most teams will usually run the ball on first down. To counter this tendency, for an action pass on first down I would suggest 30-ends cross pass (p.70), the basic reverse pass (Play No.40 pp.65-66), or 99-8 cross pass (pp.63-64).

Every coach wants to have in his arsenal a “big play” that can change the momentum of a game. A few of my suggestions would be option trans (pp.90-91), 21 double reverse (pp.54-55), q sweep (pp.113-114), 40 throwback pass (p.66), or the fake quick kick handback (pp.82-83). For the all-important two point PAT plays you might think about 3x option (p.90), 99-8 cross pass (pp.63-64), solo pass (p.72), or the running pass (Play No.79, pp.62-63).

In my opinion, a coach must have at least one variation ready for a game. On p.95 I have a brief discussion of what a simple variation, end over, can do for you with a basic play. (See Conclusion to Chapter 8.)

I hope these suggestions, in the form of a work sheet, will give you some helpful ideas on how to achieve a balanced, effective offense. If you get only one useful idea, it will be worthwhile.


Good luck this season.

Coach Ken Keuffel