This article was originally published on Direct Snap, February 28, 2005. It is reprinted by permission of the author’s son, Ken Keuffel.
Dr. Ken Keuffel
Legendary Single Wing Football Coach
Author of Winning Single Wing Football
The running pass by the tailback is one of the most potent weapons in the single wing arsenal. We have executed the running pass in two similar ways. The last digit of each play is 9, indicating that each can end up wide to the strongside as a run. Blocking assignments on both passes are the same for all interior linemen and for the fullback, who blocks the end man on the line. The plays are similar in design and operate on similar principles. The difference comes in who the two strongside receivers are.
On Play No. 79 Pass, the pattern we have used most, the wingback is a deep receiver running a banana course, and the blocking back is a shallow underneath receiver running in the flat at about 3 yards depth. On Play No. 99 Pass, the No. 8 end runs a deep banana route, and the wingback runs a sprintout course at about 3 yards depth with the blocking back blocking the second man in.
There are good reasons for having two such similar plays. Sometimes we have a real difference in the receiving ability of players. For example, the blocking back may be a poor receiver and we may want to use the wingback in the flat pattern. Also when we line up the wingback on the weakside, we still have a deep outside threat from the No. 8 end with Play No. 99 Pass. Finally, we have found it convenient to designate variations of the running pass by 99 as Ill show in the next part of this chapter.
Play No. 79 Pass
Now Ill discuss Play No. 79 Pass in more detail. From near position (behind the center) the tailback takes a 4 (lead) center and runs under control to the strongside while setting the ball in his hands to pass. We want him to look for his receivers early. Ideally he should be ready to throw by the time he is behind the wingbacks original area. The wing must run his banana course from the start. He must not run downfield and then veer to the outside or the safety can rotate over and pick him up while the halfback moves up to cover underneath. If the wing is open, the tail throws him a high, soft pass over his outside shoulder. The blocking back runs at the defensive end and then slides into the flat.
Both the wing and the blocking back are effective receivers on this play, and both are in the tailbacks line of vision. The tail can look to throw to the wing first and, if hes covered, throw to the blocking back. Or on what we call a 79 Run It, he can expect to run the ball unless hes rushed, in which case he throws to the blocking back. We practice these possibilities and thus can easily adapt to the way the defense is playing. As I said earlier, I never want the passer to have more than one option.
Here are the other assignments for Play No. 79 Pass. The No. 8 end blocks any man in his area, usually the second man in. No. 7 blocks anyone from his outside seam to head-on No. 6. The No. 6 lineman pulls with some depth and blocks where needed. However, he must not pull against packed defenses but instead must block the man on him. The reason: No. 7 cannot block men on both himself and No. 6. The No. 5 lineman blocks anyone from his outside seam to head up. The center blocks any man on him. The No. 3 lineman blocks anyone on him or (if no man on him) the first lineman to the weakside. The No. 2 end runs through the short middle zone as a receiver.
For many years we used a three-man pattern on Play No. 79 Pass with the No. 8 end going straight downfield about 8 yards and then cutting sharply to the outside. We sometimes had success in hitting this receiver. In one Lawrenceville School game in 1971, the No. 8 end caught four passes for good yardage on this play, but we dont usually have that kind of player at tight end. In recent years we have had the No. 8 end block any man in his area. This gives us maximum protection and allows the tailback to focus in a progression on the wingback deep and the blocking back in the shallow flat. With practice, a schoolboy passer can handle this simplified task.
Fear The Wing!