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.
In Part 2 of our series, we progress to another Air Raid staple, the “Smash” concept. Smash is a natural extension of the Shakes concept in the single-wing offense. Divide Pass (Shakes) is best used as a Cover 2 beater, but Smash can help the concept become a better play against Cover 3.
Below are diagrams of early versions of the Air Raid Smash concept from Kentucky and Oklahoma in the late 1990s.
Like the Shakes concept, looking at Kentucky’s use of the concept from multiple sets, the following diagram shows Smash as a logical extension of Shakes due to the usage of a formation that resembles a wing set (following the motion).
In order to utilize this concept in the single-wing, we use a formation variation where we align our fullback as flanker on the weak side of the formation. Below is how I have improved Divide Pass using the Air Raid Smash concept.
Ends: Just like the base Divide Pass, both ends run corner routes. In the R4 progression, both of these are rhythm routes.
Wingback: The wingback still 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.
Fullback: From a flanker alignment, the fullbacks runs a hitch route. This route can be taught in many different ways, so I will leave that technique to the individual coach. In the R4 progression, this is a rush route.
Tailback: We use the equivalent of a 5-step drop and the tailback reads his R4 progression. Just like the base Divide Pass, the tailback must select the best available rhythm route based on the pre-snap caps and convert the adjacent route to the read route. However, using the Smash concept now gives the Divide Pass a definitive rush route. Against a two-deep shell, we still look to throw the divide route to the wingback first and the strong end second, just as illustrated in Part 1 of this series. Because the formation has changed to present a four-vertical threat, some three-deep shells will rotate to a two-deep look for this formation variation. However, if the defense remains in a three-deep shell, the Smash concept allows us to make changes to our progression, elevating the weak side corner route to the rhythm route, or primary read. While the wingback’s divide route is still an option as the read route, should the single safety vacate the middle, the strength of the play against a three-deep shell is taking advantage of the high-low read on the weak side corner made possible by the rush route, the fullback’s hitch, underneath the weak end’s corner route.
In theory, you could also set the fullback flanker to the strong side of the formation for this play, setting up the high-low on the strong side corner. I did not have any quality film cuts to accompany this part of the series as a teaching tool; however, I hope this piece demonstrates how my study of the Air Raid Smash concept has helped us improve our single-wing passing game.
Fear The Wing!
This is part 2 of 3 in the series “Air Raid & The Wing.”