Stuffing the Double Wing 'Wedge' Play

Football players lined up
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It may be derived from the "three yards and a cloud of dust" attitude that dominated football decades ago, but the "Wedge" play is a vital part of the run-oriented Double Wing offense.

The Double Wing is a power-oriented offense that features two tight-ends, two wing backs, one fullback, and a quarterback in the backfield. The Wedge play is run out of this formation.

Why the Double Wing ‘Wedge’ Play Works

The Wedge play works well because it is difficult for opposing teams to defend. Two tight ends bookend the offensive line, which creates a tightly formed seven-man blocking front. The fullback is closely aligned behind the quarterback in a three-point stance, which makes it difficult for defenders to see the quarterback hand him the ball when running the play. To beat a Double Wing opponent, the defense must stop the wedge play.

Origin of the ‘Wedge’ Play

The play is derived from the "Flying Wedge" formation. The Flying Wedge is an outlawed arm-interlocking kickoff return formation made illegal over a century ago. Instead of the banned interlocking arms, the offensive line steps inward in concert to form a tightly formed 'V' formation, with the center in lead and the head of each lineman aligning to the hip of the line mate to his inside.

Much like a rugby scrum, the mass of humanity plows forward to allow the fullback to follow neatly behind until an opening occurs that the running back can act on and then it’s off to the end zone. Although mot every wedge play results in an 80-yard touchdown scamper. Double Wing teams are grateful if they are churning out three, four yards at a time. There are other plays run by the offense, but it is the Wedge, which defines the essence of a true Double Wing team.

The Defensive Answer

The Cougar formation is specifically designed to stop the Wedge play. The formation can be adjusted to fit any defensive system. Its strength is to take away the wedge play by basically imploding the wedge-blocking concept from the snap of the ball.

The scheme is borrowed from the tilt-nose defense. Instead of one player aligned at a 45-degree angle in the gap to one side of the center, Cougar adds a second tilt-nose defensive lineman to the other side of the snapper. The two players are in a four-point stance and get as close to the line of scrimmage as possible. When the ball is snapped, the two defenders drive off the ball and into the shoulders of the center with their inside shoulders.

Causing Offensive Line Problems

The center now faces a double team, and the charging defenders also make it difficult for the offensive guards to step into proper position for the wedge block. The angle of the tilt-nosed linemen creates a pile-up with the three interior offensive linemen.

The fullback has no other alternative than to stop and attempt to bounce the play outside. The hesitation/change of direction allows for other defenders to be in position to make the tackle.