Weak Side Attack in the Unbalanced Single Wing

This article was originally posted on Direct Snap Football.

Strengthening Your Weak Side Attack From the Unbalanced Line Single Wing

Defensive coaches are very quick to counter the unbalanced Single Wing formation by stepping down the DLs and LBs to take away the power advantage of the offense’s strong side. Unless the offense can out-athlete the defense, our reasons for attacking with an unbalanced formation have been somewhat diminished. To counter, the offense must have an effective weak side attack. Gaining positive yardage weak side on a consistent basis will result in further adjustments from the defense. In turn, the strong side game benefits.

First off, the plays about to be discussed are in no way ‘my creation’. I owe all of my Single Wing knowledge to reading Ken Kueffel, speaking with and reading the information provided by John Aldrich, as well as a lot of information shared by John Ward and others. While there is nothing mentioned in the this article which is earth shattering, I hope it assists you in improving your offensive attack.

The play-calling terminology is as follows: The Quarterback (FB in traditional terms) is the ‘1′ back, the Tailback is the ‘2′ back, the Wingback is the ‘3′ back, and the Fullback (Blocking Back in traditional terms) is the ‘4′ back. Our hole numbering system is Even Right/Odd Left. The first number of the call tells the Center where to snap the ball, the second number is the Back running the ball, and the third number is the hole for the play.

For simplicity, all of the plays are diagrammed as having the defense ’step down’ its players out of a 52 defensive package.



Out of our Base Spin Package, the QB will spin with the WB in orbit motion prior to the snap of the ball. Play 113 is run as a compliment to the TB Sweep strong side, the WB Sweep weak side, as well as the QB off-tackle to the strong side. The concept is simple. The QB fakes to the TB and WB and keeps the ball, running through the ‘3′ hole. We are down blocking with the Tight End (likely to block the LB), Quick Side Guard, Center and Inside and Outside Tackles. The Strong Side Guard is trap blocking the weak side Defensive End. The FB is filling the void of the pulling guard (likely taking on the LB). This is our quick trap at its finest. Many times, the DE will take himself out of the play himself by a hard rush. If he goes into the backfield too far, our guard will let him go and turn toward the next defender. If the DE is staying home, he must choose between stopping the WB or the QB. Obviously the fake carried out by the WB is crucial.

SWING 135/137


Base Spin Package with WB orbit motion, the QB fakes to the TB and the WB takes the ball. The QB carries his fake into the off-tackle area strong side. The WB is shooting for the ‘5′ or ‘7′ hole, depending on what the blocking has created. Same short side down blocking, with the Strong Side Guard and the Inside Tackle pulling. The FB is also pulling toward the weak side. The Center is down blocking but will slide off to take the trailing LB (the free hitter in defensive terms). Teach the Center how to use peripheral vision here. The block on the LB doesn’t have to be devastating. It just has to ’slow him down.’ A center who can effectively do this to the free-hitter can mean a five-yard gain turns into a 40-yard run!



The Power denotes to our backs we are not meshing QB, TB, and WB. The Power 133 has the WB in orbit motion and taking the ball from the QB. The down blocking is the same for the TE, Quick Side Guard, and Center. The Inside Tackle and the Outside Tackle hit their respective linemen and release downfield to pick up any one available. If the defense traditionally blitzes the vacated Guard spot, we will adjust with the IT filling the pulling guards area. The FB and TB double team the weak side DE (the Power call tells the TB he is blocking the DE). The Strong Side Guard pulls. If the DE isn’t out of the way, he slams into the pile. If he is out of the way, the guard will turn downfield to find a man to block.



This is an excellent compliment to the previous play. The handoff to the WB is the same, including the QB faking to the off-tackle slot. The Inside Tackle and Outside Tackle slide protect toward the weak side. The Center and Quick Side Guard will Slide Protect toward the strong side. The TB takes the same approach to hit the DE, but wheels outside to run a ‘Go’ pattern. The TE steps to down block and then runs a Corner pattern. The FB and Strong Side Guard pull and pass protect. The WR will run a Post or Deep Crossing pattern. The WB ’sells’ the sweep and then pulls up and throws to the TE. If his arm is strong enough, he can hit the TB. This play is wide open if the 133 Power has been successful earlier.



Our UNDER package is true misdirection. We will run the Under 118 Speed with the same look (except the QB and TB run Speed Option to the strong side). UNDER tells the WB to run motion under (in front of) the QB. The FB pulls strong side to take on the DE. The Inside Tackle and Outside Tackle pull to the weak side. All other linemen will down block. Note: The Under 118 Speed and Under 133 can be tweaked to become a Triple Option. Here, the strong side DE is the ‘read’ and have the FB go for a LB instead of hitting the DE. The play will look like 133 or if the QB pulls the ball, the 118 Speed is carried out.



This play is a direct snap to the FB. While the ‘under’ motion is the same for the WB, the play is a compliment to our UNDER 122 Cross. With the 122, the QB fakes to the motioning WB and gives the ball to the TB who runs strong side. UNDER 441 has that same backfield action, except the FB gets the snap. The Strong side Guard short pulls and turns up after passing the Center’s rear end. The Quick Side Guard takes a deep pull step to simulate the 122 pull. He has to be deep to take himself out of the way of the short pull of the opposite guard. The FB takes the snap, waits for a count of one, and follows the Strong Side guard. You will notice no one blocks the DE. This play only works if the DE is staying home and not following the Quick Side Guard’s pull; or if he is going too far into the backfield on a consistent basis.

The percentage of plays you run to the weak side will depend on your opponent’s ability to stop the strong side game. If there is no defensive shift after gaining a few yards, keep running weak side. There have been times where I have run Swing Power 133 five times in a row. I think it is a great idea to start a game, half, or possession with a weak side run or pass. Focus on ‘balancing your unbalanced attack’ and let the weak side become one of your offensive strengths.

Submitted by Sean McCormick

(Sean is currently the Defensive Coordinator for Summit Country Day HS, Cincinnati, OH and is also the co-owner of 1ST Place Sports, a team sporting goods dealer.)

Leave a Reply