This is a slightly expanded version of the presentation I gave in Dallas on February 21, 2004, at the Double Wing Symposium. A little about me – coaching since 1974. My first experience with football was in a Wing-T as an O-lineman in HS. The Wing-T made a huge impression on me – ball handling, misdirection, no-star system. I later went on to coach triple option football, then added the Run & Shoot, and from there developed the Wild Bunch. My current offense may seem far removed from the DWing, but the roots of both attacks are nearly identical – Coach Hugh Wyatt’s version in particular shares a great deal in common with my Wild Bunch. To give just one example, Paul Brown once said the quick trap to the FB was the best play in football because it hit straight ahead. Thirty years on, I still can’t argue with that. Of more interest to the current discussion, both the Double Wing and the Wild Bunch are excellent passing platforms, especially for Bunch passing, as we will see.
Not pretty – pouring rain, battered field, no traction for power running game. Situation cried out for passing; but Lowell’s quiver was empty – their arrows were all used up.
I just want to share with you a few examples of what a Bunch is…
As an FYI, the Bunch first appeared in modern NFL usage in 1976, when Coach Jerry Rhome introduced it to the Seattle Seahawks. He later moved to the Washington Redskins and sold Joe Gibbs on the concept, and the rest is pretty much history. I think Bill Walsh started adapting the idea when he was at Stanford in 1977, and used it a great deal with the 49ers in the 1980’s. This particular diagram is from a 1938 book, but the earliest reference I have seen to a Bunch-like formation is in Knute Rockne’s classic book Coaching – from 1925 ...
This diagram is taken from my Wild Bunch playbook (never miss an opportunity for a plug, I always say), and shows how the Bunch can be achieved through motion. Outside-in motion by a wide flanker is also possible, as is motion by a split halfback out of the backfield.
Here is where the double tight Double Wing shines as a “stealth” passing formation – there are Bunches to both sides, on every down, with no motion needed.
Here is Coach Markham’s 18 Sprint play as he diagramed it at the Dallas Double Wing Symposium, showing that the Bunch concept has been a part of the Double Wing since the mid-1980’s.
This is actually two questions in one. First, Why Pass? The answer to that should be clear by now – referring back to my original anecdote, there are just times when you need to be able to throw the ball to force the defense to cover the whole field. You all have some kind of pass in your arsenal (Steve Calande excepted, of course) You understand the need for, at a minimum, play-action passing to help free up your ground game. Second, Why Bunch? In the context of running, you already know the answer, because the DWing has Bunches built in to it both ways – to spread the defensive front and create blocking angles. Other offenses are just discovering what an advantage Bunching blockers can be – but we’ve all read The Toss and seen Coach Markham’s and Coach Wyatt’s videos, so we know all that already. It is in the passing context that the Bunch comes into its own. You facilitate two separate mechanisms to combat zone pass defense when you Bunch – you can Flood a given zone, or you can use Trail mechanisms to strike the seams or windows between zone defenders. And against man pass defense – well, frankly, straight man defense is just about unplayable against a good Bunch passing attack. Banjoing, or playing inside/outside leverage man defense, is an improvement, but opens up other avenues of attack. As I mentioned before, when you can complete a play action pass against a defense girding its loins to stop the pitch off-tackle, or the wedge, or the counter, you do more than gain yards – you start to erode their confidence in their defensive game plan. This, in turn, starts to open up larger and larger cracks in the defensive front when you do run your core ground offense – players start breaking discipline, defensive cohesion suffers, and then you have them. You can run or pass at will. That is the end state you want to achieve, and why it is so important that you learn to sequence your plays by situation. When you throw the ball, do it whenever possible when the defense is expecting a run, and vice versa. This means you need to be prepared to throw the ball on 1 st and 10 on a regular basis (and you will find that the most consistently successful 1 st down pass plays are those that mimic your best runs). More generally, there are optimal situations for every play in your arsenal, and you need to make a habit of practicing those plays as though your team were facing those situations. This is as important for Bunch passes in your repertoire as it is for the Pitch/Toss/Super Power, trap, counter, etc.
I will demonstrate five Bunch pass route packages and a Hal Mumme/Mike Leach classic from the double tight/Double Wing. Remember, these are tools to be used in specific situations. I will try to suggest when and where some of these plays will be valuable to you.
I thought I’d preview this in a familiar format – for any of you who own or have seen Jerry Vallotton’s book The Toss , this is his 24 Toss Pass adapted to the Coverdale/Robinson Bunched Flood pass route package...
This is Cover 1 – but I haven’t drawn in coverage indicators because the defense as drawn has a problem. They can’t really afford to play true free safety Cover 1 – the FS is going to have to pick up the TE, and he has terrible leverage...
Here is the same route package against Cover 2 from a 5-2 front. You can see we have the cornerback bracketed high and low by the TE and FB/B-back. It’s a very simple read. The QB, as always from Flood, retains the option to tuck the ball and run with it.
Now we have the deep 1/3 corner bracketed inside-outside. More importantly, there is no way the flat defender is going to be able to react quickly enough to the passing threat to cover the FB. He is sitting and waiting for the QB to come block him on Pitch/Toss/Super Power, and all of a sudden the B-back is rumbling right by him. I prioritize these routes short to long for a reason – I am primarily a ball-control pass guy. You can prioritize this by game-plan any way you want.
Here’s the second route package, the Bunch Fade. Some points: First, this is a two-man route (although it can be mirrored to both sides – the QB throws whichever way the FS doesn’t head). Second, the way I run the Coverdale/Robinson Fade, it is not the Fade you’re probably familiar with – it’s a hard 45-degree “slant-out” route. This forces the outside defender to get on his horse and ride, or risk being left behind. A note on blocking – this kind of protection can break down fairly easily, since you’re trying to simulate the Wedge as closely as possible. If you need a quicker throw, don’t bother to fake blocks by the playside TE and WB – just release them into their Out and Fade routes, respectively.
Against Cover 2, you can see that the playside corner is in a high-low bracket. Again, a very simple read. Of course, if I were facing this defense, I would run Toss, Trap and Counter until they stopped me...but don’t tell anyone, or they’ll come and take away my Bill Walsh Fan Club membership. Which comes with a really neat white sweater, by the way...
Finally, Bunch Fade against Cover 3. The Fade route should have more of a horizontal stretch to it, to pull the deep 1/3 corner as far out of his comfort zone as possible. It is also possible to run a Hinge route off this – to start off like the Fade, but then spin back inside and come back toward the QB once you get the corner sprinting to defend the width of the field. I’ll show that to you shortly.
I just had to sneak this one in. If any of you have seen Dipper’s Wedge Counter from his “Wedge or Die!” Page in the Delphi DWing Forum, you will want to have a close look at adding this pass to your arsenal. The QB fakes both Wedge and Wedge Counter before he half-rolls and sets up behind the left Guard. The double team and kick-out blocks on the playside have a very strong attraction for defenders on that side, and really help sell the run action. The QB read is dead simple, he reads it short to long, starting with the A back’s block fake/Flat route, followed by the backside TE’s Shallow Cross, then finally the C back’s Wheel route.
As I mentioned before, this is a great companion to the Fade – the poor cornerback will never know what hit him. I recommend throwing this from a full roll-out, blocking strong to playside and running away from anyone who tries to run the QB down from behind. This is a great route package against Cover 1, 2 or 3 – the Corner route deep, the Hinge below it that looks just like the hard Fade for the first two seconds, and the backside Post to keep the deep middle pass defenders honest – if they cheat too far to playside, you have a great throwback home-run shot. There is not a cornerback below the D1A level who can reliably cover the Hinge route man to man...and not too many at that level, either.
Finally, what to do when you have to pass and the defense knows it? First, panic. Just kidding. Throw your trick plays if you have them? Maybe, but you need more. You need to be able to get the ball outside with one of the roll-out route packages I’ve shown – Flood or Hinge are very good that way. Then there is Twist, especially if they are playing man defense. You show them what they expect, then cross up their expectations. Block strong on the backside – always protect your QB’s back – and run man-beater patterns at them. Twist also works well against loose zone defenses on 3 rd and Forever, since the WB and TE are attacking key zones, and the FB/B-back is running into a void underneath the deep zone drops – he is the perfect outlet throw.
This is a great change-up…throw the ball with 5 receivers out, but with a “Q” (quick) route to go to right away if they rush more than 5. The A back goes in motion very wide – this diagram doesn’t show it properly, he goes out as wide as the numbers – and at the snap runs a swing route. If pressure comes, the QB can go to the A back right now. Otherwise, the backside TE has a Coverdale Fade, the frontside TE has a shallow Post, the C back has a skinnier, deeper Post, and the FB runs an acute Angle or Texas route. You will create a stretch in a zone defense with the A back’s motion, then Trail receivers through the middle. The FB route is an excellent outlet, and will also come wide open against man coverage. It’s also late enough that underneath defenders will have cleared out before the ball is thrown…I would read this left to right. There is no problem keeping the FB in to block, either, if this 5-receiver stuff makes you too nervous.
Now a non-Bunch route package that is very popular, especially with schools that have adopted the Hal Mumme/Mike Leach spread offense. This one sends the backside TE and frontside wing on shallow crossing routes where they actually rub shoulders when they pass – thus the “Mesh”. The low mesher is normally the one you want to get the ball to, since his coverage tends to rub off in the mesh. Once the C back completes his high mesh, you can ignore him – he’s done his job. This way your QB can focus on the playside. The defense doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring the C back, however, or you can come back to him as soon as your spotters see that the coverage is not respecting his route. It’s an area read for the QB – he has the frontside and backside TE’s high and low, and the backside TE and backside wing low and lower – he reads the first area for a wide-open man, then drops down to the lower read. If all else fails, he can tuck and run or throw it away over the backside TE’s head.
The Bunch is not the only passing tool that matters, as the K-Mesh demonstrated. For that matter, the double tight DWing is not the only formation that you can run the offense from – and certainly not the only formation you can pass from. As a conversation-starter, I would like to preview a concept that is currently under development. It is a semi-spread, direct-snap offense that Steve (Dipper) Popovich has been working on.
This is not just a wild-eyed spread passing formation, BTW. Steve has designed this system around a tailback who can run and pass, so he has diagramed the following running plays from the formation: 8 Super Power, 6 G, 3 Trap @ 2, a tailback tackle trap draw, 47 C, and an 8 GO and 9 GO sweep. That’s all without mirroring the formation. The line has no problem picking up the blocking from SST, since it tends to be nearly identical to its double tight counterpart. The Smash combination was designed to attack Cover 2, so if you get a lot of 5-2 looks with two safeties, this is a great way to put the playside CB out on an island and make him wrong no matter what he does. The wide flanker (C back) runs a Hitch about 6 yards deep after starting the route with an Outside Vertical/classical Fade release to get the CB thinking deep. The A back/inside flanker to the playside opens outside for width, then goes vertical to about + 10 yards, and finally cuts to the Corner, splitting the distance between the dropping hash safety and C2 corner. The backside TE runs a Post to keep the FS pinned in place – if he starts flowing playside to help out the other safety, you have a quick six. The backside wing/B-back runs an outside vertical to keep the attention of the CB and FS on his side. Alternately, you can keep him in to block the QB’s blind side. If you line up the tailback 7 yards deep, BTW, you are in a scrimmage kick formation, and the nose man is not allowed to make contact with your center until he is in position to protect himself...if you choose to take advantage of this aspect of the rules, though, make very sure you cover them with the officials pre-game...
This is a Norm Chow passing classic dating back to his BYU years, as one look at the playside triangle of receivers will tell you. It’s a pure area read – look at the area, see who’s open. Given the threats that the running/passing tailback represents to the defense, they will have a very hard time getting three or more defenders out to cover your three playside receivers. The backside route can help keep the backside safety honest. The next slide, BTW, was added after the Dallas Symposium based on Coach Don Markham’s descriptions of some of his passing ideas. See if the concept looks familiar to you...
That’s right, this is a “modern” Norm Chow-style passing triangle...that Coach Markham has been using since the inception of the Double Wing offense.
And here’s another glimpse into the fevered mind of the man we call Dipper – a variation on a variation of Hugh Wyatt’s Wildcat formation. It’s unbalanced, there’s a nasty split receiver to the left, and Bunched Trips to the right. If you have a tailback who can run and pass, you could wreak a lot of havoc with this...the “normal” Titan formation is Steve’s unbalanced, nasty-split version of Wildcat, from which you can run almost the whole gamut of DWing running plays. Titan IIIC still lets you move the ball on the ground, but adds multiple passing threats to the mix.
And here’s what you were all worried you would see...
The Need to Pass the Ball <ul><li>I watched San Francisco Lowell HS lose by 35 points in November 2003 because they COULD NOT pass the ball, even with 10 defenders in the box. </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t want any of you to find yourselves in this situation. </li></ul>
What is a Bunch? <ul><li>Definition: Three receivers in close proximity to each other (I.e., within 5-7 yards) when the ball is snapped. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples Follow: </li></ul>
Why Bunch Pass? <ul><li>Complicate defensive task – adding a third dimension to the field. (Why Pass?) </li></ul><ul><li>Make zone coverage harder and man coverage nearly impossible. (Why Bunch?) </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthen ground attack through play action. </li></ul><ul><li>Situational Weapon. </li></ul>
How to Bunch Pass in DWing <ul><li>Five Suggested Pass Route Packages from Bunch; one from modern Spread Passing Game (Texas Tech, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>These are Situational Tools/Weapons </li></ul>