Spread Wing Offense

by Coach James Thurman

     The Wing-T has been a staple of high school football for the last 50 years.  Too many times if you see a Wing-T team get behind in a game they are destined to stay that way based on their inability to present a true drop back passing threat.  When most of these teams do try to adjust and go to a more conventional passing attack in the middle of the game they are still using base Wing-T formations which sometimes leave them at a disadvantage.

     With the Spread Wing Offense I feel you can shift from the Wing-T very simply by adjusting the alignment of your two halfbacks.  By placing these two players in the slot you can effectively spread the field with out having to substitute players.  You can also easily shift into and out of the Spread from the Wing-T.  By creating an avenue for you to pass the ball with the same personnel you use to run the ball; you force a defense to defend the pass with the same personnel they defend the run with.  The strongest part of the alignment is being able to motion to and run a wide variety of proven Wing-T plays from the Spread formation.  (figure.1)

Figure 1

     We use the basic Delaware numbering system when calling our formations.  We will count from the right to the left starting with 1 going to 9.  We will also use this numbering system for our holes for running the football.  We start with the center as being our mid point and being numbered 5.  We will then number downwards to the right and upwards to the left.  Our marking points will be the inside foot of each man on the line. (figure. 2)  When calling a 100 formation we are calling for the strong side to be the (1) side.  So in a 100 formation we would be in a strong right.  Our TE will always be on the strong side and our SE will always be on the weak side.   There are differentials based on formation such as Spread Even or Trips in which the TE will still be on the strong or wide side but will be in a split position and in Ace where the SE will still be on the weak or short side but in tight.  Based on your personnel you may opt to go with two SE type players in Trips or Spread Even and go with two TE type players in an Ace formation.  

Figure 2

     The simplicity of the Spread Wing Offense to be taught to a young team is what makes it stand out over other systems I have seen.  The terms and adjustments are very simple.  We use a system in which we will call the play in this order:  Formation (spread) Strength (100) Number Routes (98) Call Routes (Post) Back Routes if applicable (swing) Suffix (Solid).  Of course the formation says that we are running a play from the spread as opposed to any other offensive sets.  The strength will dictate our strong and weak side and on even fronts which side is the short or wide side.  The Number routes will be for the Slots in numerical order (first number for left slot, second for right slot).  The Call routes will be the route for both ends to run as mirrored routes.  The back route will be called on plays in which we want a back out in a pass route.  If a back route is not called then the back will block to the weak end.  On all other plays he is blocking backside.  The Suffix will dictate special orders such as Solid for blocking solid which will tell the TE to stay in to block.  (figure. 3)

Figure 3

A normal play will come together as so:

Spread 163 Poco

With in this system there are a total of 18 route possibilities for ends and slots.  There are a total of 6 routes for the back.  As indicated above when we are in our regular Spread the Slots will run the numbered routes and the Ends will run the non-numbered call routes which will be mirrored.  When we call Spread Opposite we are shifting these responsibilities.  So now the Ends will run the numbered routes and the Slots will run mirrored call routes.  The back will always run his routes off his block fake so he will initiate them from the weak side.  You can adjust his routes to the strong by making a strong call in the back route such as: Spread 163 Poco Flare Strong. 

     When starting a team out in this system you should run the Spread Wing without using the opposite call.  By using the opposite call you can double your passing capabilities.  In the regular Spread the Slots are limited to only 10 numbered pass patterns which are labeled on figure 4.  The Ends are capable of running up to 18 different pass patterns which include all of the 10 numbered routes plus the 8 non-numbered call routes. (figure. 5)  Since the responsibilities are switched when an opposite call is made both the Ends and the Slots must be proficient in running all 18 routes.  This doubles the possible route packages you can run but also doubles your practice time.  The back has a total of 6 call routes which he may run. (figure.6)  By making a strong call after the route this is doubled to 12 based on the routes changing from left to right on a regular or a strong call. 


Figure 4


Figure 5

Figure 6

     We like to build our route packages with the idea of having our routes develop at different levels so that we can progress through our reads with a take what they give us philosophy.  If we run a 5 yard out and he is open we want to immediately hit that man even if we have a go route streaming down the sideline wide open.  Will dink and dunk you to death if you give us that opportunity.  We also teach our QB to get a quick pre-snap read in order to give some indication which routes might be open due to certain coverages.

     In figure 7 you can see the variation of formations we run in order to give us a possibility of creating mismatches.  Note that in Trips our Slots are both aligned to the strong side but their route assignments are still from left to right.  In Trips we will always align in shotgun.  We will call for a Shotgun from the other formations by adding “Gun” to the front of the formation call such as “Gun Spread 163 Poco”.  When in Spread empty we will be aligned the same as in Trips but the back will align in the slot to the weak side.

Figure 7

In addition to our regular route packages we like to use screens to soften up a pass rush by an aggressive defense.  Listed below in figure 8 are some of our most productive screens.  Of course these can be used out of different formations.


Figure 8

     In figure 9 I have listed some plays from different formations which will give you an idea of how we build our route packages to have a high and low read.  Once again we will take what the defense gives us if the low read is open. 

     We also run route packages in which we have 4 deep routes which will require our QB to rely on his pre-snap reads to determine where and when we will get an open receiver. (figure. 10)  

     As mentioned in the beginning we are able to run many Wing-T plays out of our spread formations.  We feel that by forcing the defense to respect the pass we are able to spread them out and create running lanes in which to exploit our abilities as a run oriented team. (figure. 11)  When calling running plays we will call formation and strength then the hole number followed by suffix.

Figure 9

Figure 10

F igure 11

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at SpreadWing@aol.com

Coach James Thurman (318) 382-0438