Friday, October 31, 2008

The single-wing formation

By Roy Waters The News Herald
Published: October 28, 2008
Updated: 10/28/2008 08:04 pm

Football has come full circle.
Several National Football League teams have experimented with the old single-wing formation recently, with the Miami Dolphins leading the way.

The offense was developed a century ago by Coach Pop Warner and was still prevalent in the early 1960s.

The formation had two backs several yards behind the center, one back just slightly behind the center about a yard to the side and one back split out past one of the ends.

There was no quarterback in this formation as the T-formation didn't come along until the 1940s and it was the 50s before it began to take over. In the "T" the quarterback took the ball directly behind the center and the other three backs were behind him several yards standing side-by-side parallel to the offensive line.

The center, quarterback and these three backs formed a "T." Over the years, the three backs have been moved around to many different spots on the field. The T-formation was quick hitting, while the single wing took longer to develop a play.

The new single-wing formation will produce yardage until defenses can catch up. The Dolphins scored five touch-downs in their first 17 plays from the single-wing formation recently.
Colleges are also using a version of it. Wake Forest won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2006 with the formation and Appalachian State has won three national championships in a row with their own slant of the single wing.

Most of the college teams split their linemen farther apart and try to create a 3-on-2, 4-on-3 or any other scenario that will create an advantage.

This is the same strategy a coach will apply to his zone offense in basketball and it takes only several seconds for this mismatch to do damage.

Look for this more and more. A 100-year-old offense is new again, full circle.
That term is fresh on my mind as the author of a new book I just finished said her dad used it to describe how things come back into your life a second time.

Robin Evans wrote "A Bountiful Heart" about the life of her father, restaurant legend Bob Evans. The book also refers to her mother's days in Morganton when she lived on Tate Street before her dad moved to Ohio in the 1930s. I highly recommend the book.

No more prevent
I don't like to criticize coaches but with all the good Butch Davis has brought to UNC's football program, he gave away one game and almost two others using the prevent defense in the last two minutes.

I understand the use of it in the final 30 to 40 seconds of a game but with nearly two minutes left you play into the hands of a good quarterback when you rush only three men. It was the only way Virginia could have won the game.

Collins doing well
You may not be aware of the fine work former Carolina Panthers' quarterback Kerry Collins is doing for the unde-feated Tennessee Titans.
He replaced the troubled and young Vince Young early in the season and his team is among the NFL's elite.
Collins never got it going when he was a Panther.

More on injuries
An addendum to my column from last week on sports injuries.
One of the saddest stories I've ever heard on this subject took place last week in Asheville.
UNC-Asheville basketball player Kenny George had a third of his foot amputated and I'd think he was done with the sport. It's almost impossible to play sports with out a big toe.
He had developed an infection in the foot and was slowed down for a couple of years.
I went to Asheville to see him play last season and I thought I was prepared for the first look at the gentle giant, but nothing will prepare you for a 7-feet, 7-inch, 365-pound young man with shoulders as wide as two normal men. It was a moving experience. I couldn't take my eyes off of him.

He played basketball with a slow, elegant style and I've never seen anyone play with the positive interaction he had with his teammates, opponents and the fans.

It was a joy to watch him and an even greater tragedy to know that none of us will get to see him in that setting again.

Roy Waters is a sports columnist for The News Herald. Waters was baseball and basketball coach at Salem High School from 1955-1966, where his teams won 18 championships. In 2007, he was inducted into the Burke County Sports Hall of Fame.


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