The Double Wing Offense is a brutal attack geared around power, gaining a numbers advantage at the point of attack and being relentless in it’s pursuit of “three yards and a cloud of dust.”
On its surface, the Double Wing looks like a caveman offense obsessed on beating its opponents into submission with a club. Just keep pounding and pounding until they snap. Smash mouth football, plain and simple.
However, the Double Wing Offense works on precise blocking rules, intricate footwork and the play calling can be dialed down to a science. Its more a chisel than a sledge hammer, chipping away bit by bit until the opponent cracks open like an egg.
The precision makes the Double Wing formation work. Precise play calling makes the Double Wing successful and allows you to win more games.
First things first, I’m not here to reinvent the wheel.
Much has been written about HOW to run the Double Wing Offense (the X’s and O’s). Teaching the rules, who to block, why use it, etc. There are tons of great systems out there teaching the how and why of the Double Wing:
- Coach Don Markham’s Double Wing Offense
- Coach Hugh Wyatt’s Double Wing System
- Tim Murphy’s Shotgun Double Wing (Highly Recommended)
The system doesn’t matter, they all work when properly coached. What is more important is that you call the right play, at the right time for positive yardage or points. That is what I’m going to talk about today.
This article is about WHEN to CALL PLAYS in the double wing offense, no matter what rules you are using or who’s system you run.
I ran the Double Wing for three years at the high school level and averaged over 3,000 rushing yards in two of them. The play calling method I’m about to share with you is the system we developed to ensure we had good communication, gathered accurate in-game information and made good play calling decisions in real time.
The book is a must-have for anyone trying to better understand the high-powered double-wing offense.
The first step in proper Double Wing play calling is assigning each coach an area of the Double Wing Formation to watch. This information is then relayed to the Offensive Coordinator to process and make a decision on the play call.
Our staff delegated the following focal points between four coaches:
- Offensive Coordinator – Watches Ends/Outside Linebackers / C gap Players (Defensive Tackles playing outside the 3-technique). Basically guys playing outside the formation, anyone who could play “Force” or clog up the power off-tackle hole. How are they defending power? How are they defending sweep.
- Coach #2 (preferably the Line Coach) - Watches from 3-technique to 3-technique with a special emphasis on the Noseguard area. How are they playing the interior gaps?
- Coach #3 (preferably the Running Backs Coach) – Watches interior Linebackers. How are they pursuing? How are they reacting to motion?
- Coach #4 (preferably the Tight Ends / Wings / Receivers Coach) – Watches Corners and Safeties. How close are they to the line? Are they ignoring pass threats? Caught up against the run?
The Double Wing formation creates a mess. It is hard for any coach to single-handedly see everything that is going on. By dividing up these responsibilities, your staff can compile a better picture of what is actually happening than one man trying to watch it alone.
The Defensive Coordinator is now able to ask questions like “How deep are the Corners?” or “Are the Linebackers over-playing the motion” and get accurate real time data to assist him in making the play call.
A complete Double Wing Playbook for Youth Football created by USA Football.
What each coach should be looking for and how to translate that information into a good play call:
To simplify this section, I’m going to break the focus down by Defensive Position instead of Coach. I will also frame each trigger (action by a defender) into an “If…Then…” statement. The “If…” is what the defender is doing. The “Then…” is the play call that should be made.
NOTE: Many teams call the Power play different terms for the Off-Tackle play (Toss, Superpower, Power, Etc.). We will call it “Power” for this article.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR WHEN LOOKING AT…
Defensive Ends (40/50/60 Fronts) or Outside Linebackers (3-4, 3-5-3, 4-4, etc.) :
*The Force Player
- IF he is playing outside the Wing, THEN call C-gap Power.
- IF he is head up on the Tight End, THEN call D-gap Power.
- IF he is in between the Wing and Tight End, THEN call D-gap Power.
- IF he is Boxing or Containing in the Backfield, THEN call D-gap Power or Counter.
- IF he is over-penetrating (more than 2 yards deep), THEN call Counter.
- IF he is reading/not crossing the line or we are not getting the kickout, THEN call Sweep and hook him.
Defensive Tackles (3-technique and out):
*B-gap and C-gap players
- IF fast get off and penetrating, THEN call Fullback Trap.
- IF splitting double teams, THEN call Fullback Trap.
- IF bear crawling / frogging / chopping to clog interior, THEN do not call Inside Runs.
*Stick Off Tackle, Sweeps and Passes should have little pressure.
- IF he is reading and reacting, THEN try Wedge.
Interior Linemen with focus on the Noseguard:
- IF there is no Noseguard, THEN call wedge NOW.
*Run wedge or sneak until they do something about it.
- IF the Noseguard is playing soft or reading, THEN call wedge NOW.
- IF the Noseguard is slanting, THEN call trap away.
*Slants Weak, Trap Strong.
*Slants Strong, Trap Weak.
- IF the Noseguard is causing problems for pullers, THEN Go on 2 (control him with cadence).
- IF the Linebackers are running flat or over-pursuing, THEN call cutbacks and counters.
- IF the Linebackers are keying our motion, THEN call cutbacks and counters.
- IF the Linebackers are playing close to the Line and blitzing, THEN run play-action passes or Quick Throws.
- IF the Linebackers are over-playing the Off-Tackle area, THEN call inside runs; same side trap.
- IF the Defensive Backs are closer than 6 yards to the Line of Scrimmage, THEN throw a deep pass now.
- IF the Defensive Backs are over playing the Sweep/Power, THEN throw halfback pass.
- IF the Corners are lining up way outside the Wing, THEN stay Off-Tackle and avoid sweep.
- IF the Corners are lining up over the wing or inside, THEN call sweep until they adjust.
Those are our key “Answers” for the way the defense is playing us. The key to calling plays in the Double Wing Offense is to run a play until the defense adjust.
Using this play call guide, you can find that chink in the armor and then hammer away at it over and over and over until the defense clogs it back up. Then just check the list, see where they made themselves weak to stop the bleeding…and then hammer at THAT spot until they adjust again.
I always had this list on my call sheet with the word “ANSWERS” written on the top of it. Never rely on your memory in the heat of battle. Have this list handy, ask your coaches what they are seeing, then choose the best play for what the defense is giving you.
And if you are ever in doubt: Run the Wedge…
What do you look for when calling plays in the Double Wing Offense?
Share in the comments below!