In American football, the A formation was a variation of the single-wing formation used with great success by the New York Giants of the 1930s and early 1940s. This formation was masterminded by Giants coach Steve Owen and relied heavily upon Hall of Fame center Mel Hein for its success.
The A formation differed from the traditional single-wing in that the quarterback played further back from the line and closer to the center. It also place the backfield opposite the "strong" side of the unbalanced line, providing more flexibility in the running game (though less power). The wingback is on the opposite side compared to the single-wing and the quarterback is the primary passer, rather than the tailback. The name of the formation was arbitrary, not from its slight resemblance to the letter "A", unlike formations named "I", "T", "V", and "Y" for the shapes formed by the backs' positioning; Owen labeled the standard single wing his team's "B" formation.
One major advantage of the A is the center could snap the ball to any of three players; typically to the fullback or blocking back for runs and the quarterback for passes. The fourth back, the wingback, became a crucial part of the system when Owen introduced a half-spin sweep series in 1938 which featured a wide sweep play to the motioning wingback, a dive inside by the deep fullback, and a bootleg threat away from sweep action by the quarterback. This triple-threat, highly deceptive series anticipated the Wing-T Buck Sweep series by well over a decade.
A great center like Hein was a major asset, albeit not essential, in running the A formation — however only the Giants used this set-up with any frequency. This gave the Giants an advantage in that teams had to prepare specifically to defend the A whenever they played New York.
Coach Owen experimented with the A from the early 1930s on. Mel Hein joined the Giants in 1931, but Owen didn't use the A full-time until 1937. The Giants, using the A, became the first team to win their second official NFL championship games when they defeated the Green Bay Packers 23–17, adding this 1938 title to their 1934 defeat of Chicago. Green Bay ran the Notre Dame Box, another unique single-wing variant. The 1938 win was the last time the A brought the Giants a title, however, as George Halas' modern T formation began to dominate professional football after 1940. Mel Hein retired after the 1945 season and proved difficult to replace. The Giants and their A formation were beaten for the NFL championship by the Chicago Bears and the T in 1941 and 1946. Owen finally installed the T formation as an additional offense in 1948, although the Giants continued to run the A through his retirement in 1954. No other team used the A formation in the NFL and the offense today is used only by some aficionados at and below high school varsity level. Ted Seay is known to many of them as a coach who decades later developed greater passing possibilities from the nearly forgotten A.
The quarterback, colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive platoon and mostly line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offense, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes. When the QB is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, it is called a sack.
The shotgun formation is a formation used by the offensive team in gridiron football mainly for passing plays, although some teams use it as their base formation. Instead of the quarterback receiving the snap from center at the line of scrimmage, in the shotgun he stands farther back, often five to seven yards off the line. Sometimes the quarterback will have a back on one or both sides before the snap, while other times he will be the lone player in the backfield with everyone spread out as receivers.
A running back (RB) is a member of the offensive backfield in gridiron football. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback to rush the ball, to line up as a receiver to catch the ball, and block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.
In American and Canadian football, a single-wing formation was a precursor to the modern spread or shotgun formation. The term usually connotes formations in which the snap is tossed rather than handed—formations with one wingback and a handed snap are commonly called "wing T" or "winged T".
An option offense is an older American football offensive system in which a key player has several "options" of how each play will proceed based upon the actions of the defense. Traditionally, option-based offenses rely on running plays, though most mix in forward passes from an option formation as a change of pace.
American football positions have slowly evolved over the history of the sport. From its origins in early rugby football to the modern game, the names and roles of various positions have changed greatly, some positions no longer exist, and others have been created to fill new roles.
The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football. The I formation draws its name from the vertical alignment of quarterback, fullback, and running back, particularly when contrasted with the same players' alignments in the T formation.
A sweep is an outside running play in American football where a running back takes a pitch or handoff from the quarterback and starts running parallel to the line of scrimmage, allowing for the offensive linemen and fullback to get in front of him to block defenders before he turns upfield. The play is run farther outside than an off tackle play. Variants of the sweep involve the quarterback or a wide receiver running with the ball, rather than a running back. When a wide receiver runs with the ball, it is known as a jet sweep.
An H-back is an offensive position in American football. The H-back lines up similarly to a tight end, but is "set back" from the line of scrimmage, and is thus counted as one of the four "backs" in the offensive formation. The H-back, while similar in name, should not be confused with "halfback" or "running back", which are used to denote a separate, primary ball-carrying backfield position. The position was made notable in the National Football League (NFL) by the Washington Redskins under head coach Joe Gibbs, who ran a two tight end system. The position was named F-back when used later in Norv Turner's offensive system. The position is similar to that of a slotback.
In American football, a T formation is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T".
Clarence Lester "Biggie" Munn was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He was the head football coach at Albright College (1935–1936), Syracuse University (1946), and most notably Michigan State College (1947–1953), where his 1952 squad won a national championship. Munn retired from coaching in 1953 to assume duties as Michigan State's athletic director, a position he held until 1971. Each year, the Michigan State Spartans football team hands out the "Biggie Munn Award" to the team's most motivational player. MSU's Munn Ice Arena, built in 1974, is named in his honor. Munn was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1959, and, in 1961, he became Michigan State's first inductee into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. He authored the coaching textbook Michigan State Multiple Offense in 1953.
The flexbone formation It is an offensive formation in American football that includes a quarterback, five offensive linemen, three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers. The flexbone formation is a predominant turnover formation derived from the wishbone formation and it features a quarterback under center with a fullback lined up directly behind the quarterback. There are two smaller running backs called slotbacks aligned behind the line of scrimmage on each side of the offensive line. The slotbacks are sometimes incorrectly referred to as wingbacks. But in order to be a wingback, there must be a guard, tackle and tight end all on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage and then the wingback off the line of scrimmage.
Francis Dale "Hap" Moran was a collegiate and professional American football player. He played mainly at halfback for Carnegie Tech (1922), Grinnell College (1923–1925), the Frankford Yellow Jackets (1926), the Chicago Cardinals (1927), the Pottsville Maroons (1928), and the New York Giants (1929–1933). When he retired from the NFL in 1933, he held the league records for the longest run from scrimmage and most yards receiving in a single game. His 91-yard run remained a New York Giants record for 75 years until it was broken by Tiki Barber on December 31, 2005.
The Notre Dame Box is a variation of the single-wing formation used in American football, with great success by Notre Dame in college football and the Green Bay Packers of the 1920s and 1930s in the NFL. Green Bay's coach, Curly Lambeau, learned the Notre Dame Box while playing for Knute Rockne in the late 1910s. Rockne learned it from Jesse Harper, who learned it from coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. It contained two ends, and four backs. The formation often featured an unbalanced line where the center was not strictly in the center of the line, but close to the weakside.
The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.
Wildcat formation describes a formation for the offense in football in which the ball is snapped not to the quarterback but directly to a player of another position lined up at the quarterback position. The Wildcat features an unbalanced offensive line and looks to the defense like a sweep behind zone blocking. A player moves across the formation prior to the snap. However, once this player crosses the position of the running back who will receive the snap, the play develops unlike the sweep.
Buck-lateral is an American football play or a series of plays used in the Single-wing formation. Since the Single-Wing formation lost prominence by 1950, the football play referred to as the Buck-lateral is almost gone from football's vocabulary. However, prior to this time, the buck-lateral play gave fullbacks the option to run, lateral, or hand-off the ball to another player. Running the buck-lateral required an offensive scheme that needed the fullback to possess many specialized skills, as opposed to today's fullback who mainly blocks and carries the ball infrequently.
The 1978 Michigan Wolverines football team was an American football team that represented the University of Michigan in the 1978 Big Ten Conference football season. In their 10th season under head coach Bo Schembechler, the Wolverines compiled a 10–2 record, tied for the Big Ten championship, outscored opponents by a total of 372 to 105, and were ranked No. 5 in the final AP and UPI polls. The defense allowed only 94.6 passing yards per game and ranked second in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of only 8.75 points per game.
Owen Marecic is a former American football fullback. He played at the collegiate level for Stanford University.