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.
Before the invention of the Single-Wing offense by Pop Warner, offenses used simple plays designed for runners to attack the defensive front behind massed line blocking. This battering ram approach usually involved the biggest runner, the fullback, as his main role was to "buck" or smash the middle of the defensive front.
The term lateral describes a short toss from one back to another that does not advance the ball. (see lateral pass) A ball that goes forward to another player is called a forward pass. The pass and the lateral are both allowed to advance the ball when the offense is operating behind their line of scrimmage. Once beyond the line of scrimmage the lateral is the only means of transferring the ball to another player.
The Buck-lateral was a play designed for single wing fullbacks to receive the toss from the center, and start toward the central part of the line to make the play look like a typical smash or buck. However, at some point the fullback might pause to do one of several deceptive options, usually handing-off to passing backs or even keeping the ball and plowing ahead. If the fullback delivers the ball to another back, the new carrier might have several additional options including handing or lateralling the ball to still another back.
Warner's Carlisle formation, or Single-Wing, added additional misdirection and trickery to allow for runners to gain yards by deceiving the defense. The Single-wing also allowed the offense to put more blockers at the point of attack than the defense could muster.
The buck-lateral play was actually a series of plays that started out the same way with the fullback taking the direct snap from center, then directing his forward movement toward the middle of the line of scrimmage. The play had several scripted or "read" options to confuse the defense. The player who was given permission to read the play could determine for himself whether to keep the ball or deliver it to another player. The fullback could basically either keep the ball to pound the middle of the line, or he could give the ball to one of the three other single-wing backs, usually the quarterback. Once in possession, the quarterback then continued the possibilities for initiating other permutations to the play.
To understand the mechanics of the play, one has to understand basic terminology of the single-wing formation.
The tailback was stationed four and one-half yards behind the short-side guard. In a typical formation, the fullback would line up three and one-half yards behind the long-side guard. One and one-half yards behind the tackle or guard, would be the quarterback or blocking back. Finally, the wingback aligns himself to the outside of the opposing defensive tackle. He is only one yard off the line.
In most offenses the tailback was the main ball handler and generator of offense; however, the fullback could also take the direct snap due to his proximity to the tailback. In fact whenever the ball was snapped, one of the two backs would take the snap while the other feigned taking the snap to confuse the defense.
A popular scenario for the buck-lateral saw the fullback with the option to hand-off to the quarterback. The quarterback, on taking the ball, could try to sweep the end or toss the ball to the tailback, who had been paralleling the play more deeply in the backfield. If the tailback takes the lateral from the quarterback, he is in position to sweep the end, or even throw the ball to a receiver down field.
Coaches created different versions of the buck-lateral depending on the versatility of the backfield. In one version the fullback might fake a hand-off to the quarterback, who is standing with his back to the defense to hide the lack of exchange. In another version, the fullback could give the ball to the quarterback, who then might initiate a reverse by giving the ball to the wingback coming back against the flow of the play. In another twist, the quarterback could take the fullback hand-off and complete a jump-pass.
The buck-lateral was especially deceptive and effective, but hard to execute. The single-wing fullback had to have the skills of a modern-day quarterback in handling the ball. Plus, he had to be able to take the punishment associated with bucking the middle of the defense where the bigger, stronger defensive players were stationed.
When the fullback took the snap, defensive players expected the play to hit the center of the line because the traditional role of the fullback was to grind out yardage between the tackles. Defensive players who rushed to stop the fullback at the guard-center gap might be totally surprised if the fullback slipped the ball to the nearby quarterback who was heading in another direction.
Consequently, single-wing teams that could master the buck-lateral series of plays could be successful by always making the defense guess to where the ball was going. Of course, if the defense loses sight of the ball during the fakes or laterals, then the defense is at an extreme disadvantage.
Today's coaches would call the buck-lateral a gadget play, because it was designed to thoroughly confuse the defense by making its members lose sight of the ball with fakes, counter action, and laterals. Trick plays are harder to execute and demand considerably more practice time than less complicated plays.
The Kansas City Chiefs used the fullback inside run variant of the Buck Lateral series on a fourth-and-short situation to set up their first touchdown.
A snap is the backwards passing of the ball in gridiron football at the start of play from scrimmage.
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.
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".
Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.
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.
A formation in football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. There are both offensive and defensive formations and there are many formations in both categories. Sometimes, formations are referred to as packages.
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.
The halfback option play is an unorthodox play in American and Canadian football. It resembles a normal running play, but the running back has the option to throw a pass to another eligible receiver before crossing the line of scrimmage.
A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or trickeration, is a play in gridiron football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but also to maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.
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".
A halfback (HB) is an offensive position in American football, whose duties involve lining up in the backfield and carrying the ball on most rushing plays, i.e. a running back. When the principal ball carrier lines up deep in the backfield, and especially when that player is placed behind another player, as in the I formation, that player is instead referred to as a tailback.
In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position". Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions", meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.
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.
The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.
In American football, a play is a close-to-the-ground plan of action or strategy used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly, plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in a playbook.
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.
In American football, a back is a player who plays off of the line of scrimmage. Historically, the term "back" was used to describe multiple positions on offense and defense, although more descriptive and specific position naming is now common. Thus, "back" can refer to positions including: