The Air Raid and the Single-Wing. Not terms you normally hear in conjunction with each other, unless someone is making a snarky comment intended to show opposite sides of today’s football spectrum. However, a deeper look may show something different, and illustrate the versatility of both systems.
Despite being a single-wing enthusiast, my interest in learning as much as I can about the game has often led me to studying other successful offenses. I love learning strategies and tactics of offenses similar to my own, but also about others. I once had a coach tell me that single-wing coaches are ignorant when it came to the passing game. I, by no means, consider myself an expert of the Air Raid offense, but I have studied some of the core concepts in hopes of improving my own passing game.
One of the steadfast single-wing pass plays has always been the Divide Pass. It was diagrammed by legendary single-wing coach Ken Keuffel in the article I republished recently entitled “Worksheet to Achieve a Balanced Single Wing Offense.” Divide Pass is a versatile play, best used against Cover 2, and closely resembles the Air Raid three-verticals concept “Shakes.” To begin this series, I will look at how I have used my studies of Shakes to improve the single-wing passing game.
Below are diagrams of early versions of the Air Raid Shakes concept from Kentucky and Oklahoma in the late 1990s.
In particular, looking at Kentucky’s use of “67 Corner” from multiple sets, the following diagram caught my eye as it seemed to closely resembled a wing set (following the motion).
When I initially learned the Divide Pass, I knew the middle divide route could be converted against a single-safety, but I was really unsure of the nuts and bolts until I dug a little deeper. Instead of just designated a receiver from the sideline, as may have been done in the original single-wing passing game, we now teach the passer to read the coverage and look for the best available route to start his progression. Years later, studying and implementing the R4 Passing System helped me further understand the thought process and teaching progression of this play. Below is how I have improved Divide Pass using the Air Raid Shakes concept.
Ends: Both ends run corner routes. Different coaches teach the corner route in different ways, so I will leave that technique to the individual coach. In the R4 progression, both of these are rhythm routes.
Wingback: The wingback runs the divide route. Take three steps at a slight angle to the outside, then cut the off the strong end’s tail towards the middle. Against a two-safety, two-deep shell, continue without crossing the strong guard. Against a single-safety, three-deep shell, read the safety; if he turns continue, if he sinks, curl up in front of him. In the R4 progression, this is also a rhythm route.
Blocking Back: We use the blocking back in pass protection, but conceivably he could check-release into a shoot route.
Fullback: Like the blocking back, we use fullback in pass protection, but he could check-release into a swing route.
Tailback: We use the equivalent of a 5-step drop and the tailback reads his R4 progression. The tailback must select the best available rhythm route based on the pre-snap caps and convert the adjacent route to the read route. There is no rush route, unless a check release route is used. In traditional Air Raid reads, we look to throw the divide route to the wingback first and the strong end second against a two-deep shell. Against a three-deep secondary, the number one receiver will be one of the ends based on match-up, with the wingback either deep in the middle or curled up in front of a sinking safety as the second read.
Below is film of this play with this teaching progression in place. While we don’t throw it as much as the Air Raid coaches do, learning from those who have perfected their craft have helped us improve our single-wing passing game.
Fear The Wing!
This is part 1 of 5 in the series “Air Raid & The Wing.”