Magic Moments... Single-Wing Formation... 1920s
The single-wing formation was conceived by Glenn "Pop" Warner while coaching at Pittsburgh and Stanford Universities. And later became the running game of Red Grange, Johnny Blood, Bronko Nagurski, Mel Hein and Sammy Baugh.
The sole focus of the single-wing was to exploit the weakness between the defensive tackle and the defensive end. The end's job on defense was to force the play inside, and because he had no help from the outside, he played wide. This left a compelling gap between him and the defensive tackle.
Warner developed a power-packed running game by placing seven offensive linemen at the line of scrimmage, with two offensive tackles between one guard and the end. His quarterback was mainly used as a blocking back, and lined up behind and between the offensive guard and tackle. And Warner set a wing-back out-from, but behind the tackle - flanking the outside defensive tackle - so his team could double block anywhere along the interior line.
It soon was acknowledged that the ball carrier gained freedom to run freely. For example, Warner's offensive wing-back and end would double team and block the defensive tackle, while the quarterback and fullback would hit the defensive end, with the tailback following through an open hole.
On passing plays, the wing-back and ends could get downfield without much hindrance.
The offensive backfield alignment created a great deal of deception. The ball could be centered to either the quarterback, fullback or tailback. The quarterback could use a running fake on a pass play or simply blow past the defensive on a end-around sweep. The fullback could run, fake a pass or handoff to the tailback. The tailback could run or even punt a quick kick.
Warner's teams were winning and making headline news, with his so-called "spinner series of plays". His formation was used in early professional football and remained highly used until the late 1940s.
Halfback Verne Lewellen took All Pro honors every season in his first five seasons in the NFL - 1925-1929. A well-regarded backfield star, he was a top favorite among Green Bay Packers' fans and played a major role in the team winning back-to-back NFL Championships - 1929 and 1930. He led the league in rushing touchdowns twice - with 6 TD in 1928 and with 8 in 1930, and also led the NFL both seasons in total touchdowns with 9. Verne Lewellen career: 37 rushing TD, 51 Total TD. Famous Football Players
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