The Spin: The Greatest Offense You've Never Heard Of

by: Mike Kuchar © December 2006

The Strategy Head coach Dale Weiner and his staff at Catholic HS in Baton Rouge (LA) began dreaming up the spin offense five years ago during the 2001 season. Bored with the conventional pro “I” sets they had been running, they looked for a different way to run their mis-direction schemes like counter and sweep. So after breaking down the previous night’s game film on Saturday mornings, Weiner and his staff started to lay down the blueprint of a brand-new innovative offense known as the “Spin.” Weiner first unleashed the ‘Spin,’ named because the QB pivots on every snap, in the 2001 state playoffs. The results have been tremendous. Catholic High has posted a 50-9 record, averaging 34.5 points per game. They’ve made the playoffs every year and currently have won 29 straight district games. While the X’s and O’s of the spin may be somewhat complicated, the strategy is quite simple. The “Spin” offense prides itself on mis-direction schemes and similar pattern meshes between the QB and three running backs. Much of it resembles the traditional Wing T scheme, but Weiner operates his out of a double slot set which provides for equal balance on both sides of the ball. “The offense is simple to teach yet it’s different, which I think is the key in coaching,” says Weiner. “All we’ve really done is take a spread package, which everybody in football is doing today, and find a way to mesh it in with the option and misdirection run plays like counter, power and sweep.” Like most run-oriented offenses, the spin relies on an athletic and mobile QB – in Weiner’s offense the QB will carry the ball more than 60% of the time. “For the most part, he’ll be our best athlete,” says Weiner. Both wingbacks are traditional I back types, most likely the first and second team halfback, while the fullback is a conventional fullback and the best blocker on the team. The Run Game Despite the original shotgun set, the run game of the spin offense resembles the buck series of the Wing T. Weiner packages his plays by series, which is not unlike traditional Wing T, but he works mainly out of “deuce” – Weiner’s shotgun double slot set (See Diagram 1).

Diagram 1. Shotgun Double Slot Having a balanced set, without overloading one side like Wing T teams would use in traditional TE/Wing sets, makes the defense stay balanced. Defenses cannot overplay one side of the formation because there is no pre-snap read to indicate strength. Plus, according to Weiner, the shotgun set has a tendency to slow defenses down, giving the illusion of a spread pass scheme. Weiner will interchange all three of his backs (besides the QB) so no tendency is shown to run to a certain side. Because of common pull and trap schemes in the spin offense, the offensive line will line up with two

foot splits and as deep off the ball as possible. “We try to make sure that once our center gets set, our offensive lineman are so deep in their stances that their hats will usually break the plane of the center’s belt,” says Weiner. “This is so we already have depth on our pull. We don’t worry about giving anything away; people know what we are going to run. They just have to try and stop it.” The QB is lined up with his heels five yards from the ball, while the fullback is offset exactly two feet in front of him on either side (depending on the play). Both slot backs are 1.5 yards from the tackle with their inside foot back. They’ll put their inside foot back so they can pivot off their outside foot and go in motion, which they do on every snap. When a wing goes in motion, he’ll aim for the outside hip of the quarterback, so the pattern of the motion resembles an arc. The receivers split will fluctuate, depending on the play they are running. Anytime the receiver is asked to crack block inside on an outside backer, he will cut his split down; otherwise traditionally he’s at 6 yards from the slot. Weiner’s cadence is simple, “Down… set…hut…hut” so that the motion man could hear his cue, which is when the QB calls “set.” Once ‘set’ is called, the slot comes back in arc motion full speed. “Once that slot takes off on set it’s full throttle for him,” says Weiner. “By the time he gets to the QB’s hip he’s flying.” On spin sweep, the staple run play of the offense, (See Diagram 2)

Diagram 2. The Spin Sweep the slot away from the call side comes in full motion on “set” and on the snap, the QB will pivot off on the play side foot and give an outside handoff to the motion man. “We’ll either zone block the front line if it’s a stretch scheme or we’ll pull the front side guard who kicks out the first bad color he sees,” says Weiner. The receiver to the call side will execute a push-crack technique, where he takes two steps like he’s pushing up the field and come crack on the force player, usually an outside linebacker or strong safety. The play side slot will arc to kick out the cornerback. If the defense is playing some type of man coverage, Weiner will have the receivers run their man off to a depth of ten yards then stop and stalk block, while the fullback will make an inside out seal block on the play side defensive end. The counter sweep (See Diagram 3)

Diagram 3. Counter Sweep

is off the same backfield action, which provides for great misdirection. But this time it’s the opposite slot, away from the motion, that’s getting the ball on counter. The QB pivots on a 360 degree turn faking the spin sweep to the motion back and giving an outside handoff to the counter coming the other way. If the defense is showing zone coverage, the play side receiver will crack inside on the force defender. The front side of the line will gap block down, while the backside guard and tackle pull. The fullback will fill backside C gap for the pulling tackle. It’s basically traditional counter run blocking, but Weiner will tweak responsibilities if he sees teams loading up the box up with eight defenders to stop the run. “We usually see a high tendency of split 4-4 with two linebackers stacked on the guards to take away any inside run. What we’ll do in that situation is make a “stay” call to the backside guard telling him to stay home and not pull. We’ll wind up just pulling the tackle who will usually wind up kicking out a much smaller cornerback,” says Weiner. “We know we can’t account for everybody in that look, but that’s the way people will tend to play us so we have to make an adjustment.” Weiner believes the key in running the counter sweep, which he has been running from an “I” backfield set over the last twenty years, is to teach the pulling guard the difference between a kickout block and a log block. He tells his guard that if he can get his hat in the hole of the play he should kick out that defensive end by attacking his near hip and the play comes underneath him. But many teams will do such a good job crashing that end, the guard has to work to get his hips around, aiming for his outside number and seal or “log” the end inside in which the play would have to bounce outside. According to Weiner, the most successful run scheme in the spin offense is the QB power (See Diagram 4).

Diagram 4. QB Power Weiner likes to call this on the goal line because it is the most downhill aggressive run in his package. The QB will send the wing away from the call side in motion on “set.” On the snap, he’ll pivot around faking the outside handoff like spin sweep then take the ball right up through the B gap. The front side guard and tackle will combo block the first down defender up through the first backside linebacker, while the fullback kicks out the EMLOS (end man on line of scrimmage). The center blocks back for the pulling backside guard who wraps around and leads up on the play side linebacker in a 4-4 look. The play side slot runs a reverse away with a token fake and the play side receiver pushes his man vertical then runs directly at the near safety, escorting the QB to the end zone. It’s Weiner’s favorite play in the offense. “If you’re behind the defense watching this play unfold, all you see is the criss cross of the slot and bada-bing; it’s a very deceptive play,” says Weiner. “It happens so quick on the goal line teams will usually man us up and the slot motion takes defenders right out of the play.” The Play-Action It’s textbook play-calling at Catholic High. Once teams get a heavy dose of the spin sweep, Weiner will dial up the spin pass right (See Diagram 5).

Diagram 5. Spin Pass Right What’s unique about the play-action pass is that the backfield action is exactly the same as the run. The backside slot will come in motion on the “set” count and after getting the snap from the gun, our QB will reverse pivot faking the sweep and take a quick two step drop. The offensive line will zone protect to the call side with the fullback filling the backside C gap like he would on counter sweep. The front side receiver will run an influence crack (on the force defender) and head straight up the seam. This coupled with a wheel route from the play side slot and the backside receiver running a fade proves to be the most effective combination. “The wheel route is almost always there because the slot arcs like it’s a spin sweep then gets right between the hash and the sideline on the wheel.” When teams are getting upfield and getting in his quarterback’s face, Weiner has a change-up to the spin pass by booting the front side guard to get him extra protection. “The back side of the play turn back protects and the tackle comes down on the pulling guard’s man,” says Weiner. “For teams keying the guard’s pull (on a run read) this is a killer.” Although Weiner only has one play-action pass, he has several different route combinations off the same backfield action. Weiner might send the front side receiver on a corner route with the slot running a flat. The backside receiver can run anything from a fade, dig, corner or drag (See Diagram 6).

Diagram 6. Play Action Pass

Mis-direction/Screens Being that the spin offense already has built-in misdirection schemes, Weiner will throw in additional big play getters to keep defenses on their toes. One of which is the spin reverse. When running the reverse to the left (See Diagram 7)

Diagram 7. Reverse (left) the backfield action resembles a spin sweep to the right with the left slot coming in arc motion and faking the sweep. After selling the sweep, the quarterback continues his spin and makes an inside handoff to the opposite slot. Zone blocking the front is the safest bet, and the backside guard will pull and block the force defender. The fullback will block the corner, while the corner will block “MDM” (the most dangerous man), usually a cutoff block on the near safety. Regardless of the down, Weiner will go to the reverse when he sees teams over-shifting their linebackers on the arc motion action. Surprisingly, Catholic’s most successful pass play hasn’t been a play-action or drop back scheme; rather it’s been the FB screen. Weiner will run the screen up to ten times a game, especially when defenses are cheating on the spin sweep. After blocking backside C gap, like he would on spin counter, the fullback sets up on the outside leg of the tackle. The play side tackle, guard and center will pass block for two counts then release with the tackle blocking the corner support, the guard filling the alley and the center pulls around and hinges picking up any backside pursuit (See Diagram 8).

Diagram 8. FB Screen The receiver to the side of the screen will execute a crack block on the force defender while all other receivers will run coverage off. The slot will delay to check for blitz, and then run a seam route. The QB fakes the spin sweep, takes two drop steps and dumps the ball off. This article is part 1 of a 3 part series.

The Spin Offense: The Running Game (Part II)
The greatest offense you've never heard of... by: Mike Kuchar © January 2007

When Dale Weiner and his staff at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge (LA) developed the “spin offense” as their primary offense in 2001, there were three aspects that they felt needed to be accomplished in order to be successful: develop a base run package with complimentary play-action off of it; keep the defense on its toes by using misdirection and motion; and keep it simple enough so that the players and coaches can make adjustments on the fly. Although the system is quite simple, because of complex appearance of the spin, Catholic high typically will have a defense of the week set up for them every time they take the field. “We haven’t seen the same type of defense two weeks in a row for the last four years. So keeping our concepts simple makes the most sense,” says Weiner. The basis of the run game, according to Weiner, is find a way to incorporate zone and man blocking principles to his offensive line to eliminate confusion. While most teams either commit to running a gap/zone scheme or a man blocking scheme, like you would see from a Wing T, Weiner finds a way to implement both. Weiner does this by spending the majority of his spring practices and his summer workouts with his offensive line just walking through their blocking assignments against a 4-4, 4-3, 5-2 and 3-3 front. His zone schemes rely on the covered/uncovered principle; that is, if a lineman is covered on the snap of the ball, he will be responsible for handling the defensive lineman in front of him by attacking the outside number of the defender. If a lineman is uncovered at the snap of the ball, he will take a zone (lateral) step playside to prevent from any stunting toward him, then work up to linebacker level. In the spin offense, every offensive lineman must learn to pull, including the TE in counter schemes, so Weiner and his staff will teach them what he calls the basics of pulling: working up field, using your playside shoulder and forearm to make the kickout block, and keeping your hat in the hole to avoid anyone crossing you face. Game Planning the Run Game When you’ve been coaching as long as Weiner has, having tutored the likes of Warrick Dunn, Travis Minor and Major Applewhite, you develop a natural instinct for play-calling which is why Weiner, also the offensive coordinator at Catholic HS, shies away from scripting plays. “I’ll have our base plays on wristbands that I’ll give them out to every one of our skill players. That way when I need to get a play in a hurry, I could just tell our QB the number of the play. For example, 2R could be spin sweep right or 1L could be spin blast left. I could get a general feel from the sideline for what defenses are trying to do to us by watching how they react to our plays,” he says. Weiner will go into the game with five runs out of the spin. He breaks them down into off-tackle schemes such as counter, power and blast and perimeter plays such as sweep and option. He’ll try to show all of them in the first couple of possessions just to see how defenses are making the adjustments. “We want to know what teams are doing in the box. We start out in our traditional double slot set (See Diagram 1) which is an even set, so we have to see if they are overloading a particular side. Because we’re pretty balanced, most teams will adjust to the side the fullback is lined up on. In that case we will go opposite him,” says Weiner. The slot backs are 1.5 yards off the offensive tackle, so against a 4-4 defense, Weiner will check to see how those outside linebackers are aligned. Diagram 1: Basic Set

Sometimes it could be as simple as picking your poison. “If I feel that the slots have outside leverage on the outside backers, we’ll run spin sweep all day because we can get a hook block on that kid. If they widen with the slot because we’re having success with the sweep then we’ll go to our inside run game,” says Weiner. Oftentimes, if teams play them balanced with no particular strength, Weiner will leave it up to his QB to call the sweep to the left or right at the line of scrimmage based on how many players they have on each side of the center. Checking the depth of outside linebackers isn’t all that Weiner and his staff will look at when preparing their players. Since they face so many different defenses, he’ll often break from his double slot set and incorporate a tight end in the game to find out exactly how defenses will adjust. “The tight end always dictates the front of the defense. Defensively you can do whatever you want if a team doesn’t use one because it’s a balanced front. So we’ll use one in situations to see how they react,” says Weiner. When he goes to a tight end, he’ll be in a wing-slot set (See Diagram 2) similar to a traditional Wing T set. If the defense tends to overload the wing-slot side, he’ll run mis-direction such as a counter back to the tight end. Once the defense starts to make the adjustment to the tight end, he’ll stay with his base inside run package such as wham, which is an isolation play to the weakside. Diagram 2. Wing-Slot Set

Inside Run Game The spin offense inside run game revolves around two plays – the blast and the counter. Both plays are similar in nature because you will always have players that pull at the point of attack. But determining who pulls is the secret behind the scheme of the offense. For example, in the traditional spin blast, all of the offensive lineman, except for the backside guard, are working a gap/zone scheme; they are responsible for backside gap to backside linebacker. The backside guard pulls and hugs the double team at the B gap and walls off the first bad color he sees. The fullback kicks out the EMLOS (end man on line of scrimmage). The QB is the ballcarrier, taking the ball up through the B gap (See Diagram 3). Diagram 3. Spin Blast/Regular Blocking

Weiner likes to run this play against a seven-man box, or a 4-3. When he sees that teams will start to bring eight players in the box to stop the run, he will simply make an adjustment by tagging the word “wham” onto the call. “Because it becomes impossible to block the backside linebacker in a four-linebacker set, you can’t block eight with seven, the backside guard will not pull. Instead, the offensive line will man block the front and the fullback will isolation block the frontside linebacker, with the QB taking the ball through the B gap” (See Diagram 4). The motion from the backside slot will hold the frontside linebacker from coming into the tackle box as an extra defender. Diagram 4. Spin Wham Blast

The spin counter relies on the movement of the playside slot coming in motion, resulting in a usual shift of linebackers for fear of the spin sweep. When Weiner starts running the sweep play enough and starts to see the linebackers cheating, he’ll come back with the spin counter. Offensive lineman to the playside will work their gap/zone scheme just like blast, while the backside guard pulls to kickout the EMLOS. The backside tackle walls up inside the kickout block looking for the first bad color inside (See Diagram 5). This sounds like traditional counter blocking schemes, but Weiner will change up assignments by what he sees on the field. “Typically we like to pull both the backside guard and tackle on counter. But depending on how quick their defensive line is off the ball, we may have to pull just the guard or the tackle. It’s simple for our kids, they hear the word counter, and it could be tagged with a ‘stay’ call that just tells the FB to take the place of the backside tackle. When we play really quick teams that really go with full flow, we will call ‘spin counter zone’ and just zone the front opposite the call with the fullback kicking out the EMLOS” (See Diagram 6). Diagram 5. Spin Counter

Diagram 6. Spin Zone Counter

Outside Run Game If Weiner feels that he has a speed advantage against his opponent, he’ll run more of his outside schemes such as spin sweep and spin option. The spin sweep is the staple of the offense, and resembles what Wing T teams refer to as Jet sweep with the slot getting the ball in full motion around the corner. The difference is the slot never crosses the QB’s face to avoid problems with the mesh. Instead, his aiming point is the outside hip so he gets the ball at top speed. The offensive line will use their zone block principles except for the playside guard, who will be responsible for the force defender with the fullback (usually an outside linebacker or strong safety). The playside receiver will use a push crack technique at the middle safety leaving the fullback to block the strong cornerback (See Diagram 7). In order to prevent run-through from the linebackers, Weiner won’t pull anyone and will just call “spin sweep zone” with the entire offensive line blocking their zone scheme (See Diagram 8). Diagram 7. Spin Sweep

Diagram 8. Spin Sweep Zone

The spin option scheme is also used with the same zone blocking schemes as the sweep; the only difference is that Weiner prefers to option off of the first threat that shows defensively- usually the force defender. The playside wide receiver will execute the same push crack technique at the middle safety (versus cover two it is the half-field safety) while the playside slot still attacks the inside shoulder of the corner. The fullback works with the playside tackle in sealing the frontside defensive end as the quarterback carries a double option read with the backside slot who comes in arc motion (See Diagram 9). Diagram 9. Spin Option vs. 4-3

“With the option read, we’ll try as many times as possible to get motion away from the play. We want to eliminate as many guys as possible from the frontside. Plus at this level, motioning tends to get people uneasy,” says Weiner. As a changeup to the spin option blocking scheme, Weiner will make a “stem” call to the play. Stem tells the playside receiver to come in short motion and crack on the force player. The slot still leads out on the cornerback. Now, the option read becomes the first safety that shows (See Diagram 10). Diagram 10. Spin Option: 'Stem'

Halftime Adjustments The Catholic staff will carry a checklist with them in the press box to relay information back down to Weiner on the field. Weiner says that the phones are practically lifeless during the first half because all coaches are jotting down notes on what they see. It picks up with chatter of X’s and O’s during the second half after they get together at the half. According to Weiner, one of the biggest concerns he has is the front of the defense. “I have to know right away whether it’s an odd or even front. Are there three, four or five defensive lineman on the line of scrimmage. The front will dictate the coverage. If it’s an even front then we have to suspect it’s cover two or cover four. If it’s an odd front, you’re going to get cover 3 or man free coverage. Once we determine it’s an odd front, we’ll find the invert safety and run away from him all night,” says Weiner. Another concern is how the defensive ends or force players are playing the spin option. Weiner believes it could be one of three ways. If those ends are running hard up the field, he’ll use misdirection such as the counter away to slow them down. If they’re playing tight to the line of scrimmage, he’ll try to outflank them and get to the perimeter using the spin sweep and if they’re flattening out using a feather technique, he’ll tell the QB to duck up inside on option.

The last thing that Weiner will try to pinpoint is a weak defender in the lineup. He admits that because teams try compensating for them, often times these players are tough to find. So he’ll be more specific in finding who likes to chase plays down, who is susceptible to being kicked out and which secondary player is biting up hard on the run. Because once the run game gets stalled, Weiner won’t hesitate to go over the top of coverage with a play-action pass. We’ll learn more about those schemes next month in Part Three of the Spin Offense: The Passing Game.

The Spin Offense
The Pass Game - Part III by: Mike Kuchar © February 2007

Coaches spend the majority of their off-season performing a great deal of self-scouting. Assessing each game film, they evaluate what plays were productive and which plays to scrap entirely out of their playbook. After the 2001 season, Dale Weiner and his staff at Catholic High (LA) realized that the hybrid they created called the “spin” worked exactly as planned – incorporating Wing T offense with traditional “I” formation misdirection in the run game. Opposing teams were left stuck in the mud watching the backfield action of the spin sweep, spin counter and spin pass as Weiner and Catholic High racked up astonishing numbers on the ground. But in order for the offense to be efficient, and to keep defenses on their toes, they had to find ways to utilize the pass game without compromising the precise run fake mis-directions that had made their offense so productive. So, Weiner came up with the three complimentary passes of the spin action run game: spin pass, spin bootleg and spin screen. As far as play-calling goes, Weiner doesn’t follow conventional wisdom of a 50-50 run/pass ratio. In fact, Catholic High finished 2006 rushing for 3,142 yards while passing for 1,857 yards en-route to a one-loss season culminating in a last second loss in the Louisiana State Championship. Since so much of the spin offense is predicated on the misdirection of the run game, all of his passes are play-action- which is why his QB was efficient in more than 60 percent of his throws this season. Weiner wants to dictate the tempo of the game, forcing the defense into compromising situations. He doesn’t force feed his scheme to the defense; he simply takes what they will give him. “I come in with a game plan depending on what type of coverage teams will be playing against us. For the most part, we’ll get a ton of cover 3 so teams can stay with an eight man front. I’ll start the game by establishing the run first, and see how they’ll adjust,” says Weiner. When Weiner talks about setting up the pass with the run, basically there are three main run schemes out of the spin that he’ll attack a defense with: the sweep, the counter and the power scheme. Each play attacks a different area of the defense; the sweep is a D gap perimeter play, the counter is an off-tackle play that ends up in the C gap and the power is an A to B gap play. Each play compliments each other, so it is rare that a defense can be effective in stopping all three schemes. So Weiner will continually try to pound the football and rely on keys from his coaches up in the press box to when a defender is cheating. “If we start to see a true cover three team with that free safety coming down a little too quickly into the alley, then it’s time to burn them deep,” says Weiner. The Spin Pass The spin pass (See Diagram 1) is the complimentary play to the spin sweep. From a defensive standpoint, the two plays look exactly similar. It’s Weiner’s thinking that the offensive line blocking schemes must stay constant – you can mix up the backfield action as much as possible – but to the lineman spin pass and spin sweep are the same thing. They work on keeping their hats and pad levels low to sell the sweep action while taking lateral zone steps to the next adjacent man, just as they would in the sweep. The fullback will come across the formation and fill the backside C gap, picking up any edge rushers. The slot receiver away from the call side will come in arc motion and on the snap fake the sweep exchange with the spinning QB. He becomes an edge blocker to the front side of the play – essentially giving a seven man max protection for the QB on a three-man route.

Diagram 1. Spin pass right Since the effectiveness of the spin sweep is based on the crack block of the wide receiver on a linebacker, Weiner keeps this action the same on the snap. The only difference is, on spin pass the receiver will “fan” on the backer and run a skinny post drawing the attention of the middle or near safety. It’s this action of the crack block that is the key element to make the play go. “We crack so much, I love to watch that play side cornerback come inside right away expecting the run,” says Weiner. “Once my coach up top gives me that tendency we go right for the jugular.” The jugular is a wheel route by the play side slot attacking the area vacated by the corner. If by chance, the corner does not get sucked in by the crack block, the slot will convert his route to a comeback route at 15 yards. “If we’re seeing a two deep shell, the QB will read the near safety. If he stays on the hash, he’ll throw the wheel route immediately,” says Weiner. “If he jumps the wheel, we have the skinny behind him.” The backside receiver will mainly run a 15 yard dig, but his route can be tagged with a fade or 8 yard drag route as well. Once the QB pivots and fakes the sweep, he pulls up into the “B” gap and reads inside out – skinny post, wheel and the dig. The Spin Bootleg Just as the spin pass is predicated on the action of the spin sweep, the spin bootleg is what Weiner calls a “key breaker” off of the spin counter. Much of the spin bootleg resembles the traditional Waggle Pass that all Wing T teams have in their package. It’s the offensive line that again, has to sell the run action of the spin counter. If the huddle call is “Spin Bootleg Left,” (See Diagram 2) the offensive line will gap protect away from the call of the play, with the backside guard pulling just as if it were spin counter. The right slot will go in full motion and get downhill quickly to seal the edge to the side of the play, similar to the spin pass. The left slot, or play side slot will execute his counter steps- drop step, cross over and fake the counter right. He will wind up protecting the backside of the QB along with the pulling guard while the FB will head directly into the flat.

Diagram 2. Spin bootleg left Again, the spin bootleg is essentially a three man route with the play side receiver running what Weiner calls a crack corner route at 15 yards to the sideline and the back side receiver running a deep drag just as he did on the spin pass. After faking the counter, the QB gains depth of about five yards to carry out the naked bootleg. He’ll check the corner quick, but most times will feed the ball directly to the fullback in the flat. Because there is no front side protection to the bootleg, the success of the play relies on an excellent counter fake and pulling lineman. Depending on how the defense reacts to the counter play, Weiner may wind up pulling both the guard and tackle away from the play. “Since we pull both linemen on counter,

we’ll watch how that weak side end plays the counter. If he really starts to chase the play down the line of scrimmage, we’ll run bootleg at him all day. Chances are we won’t have to block him; he’ll take himself right out of the play.” The Spin Screen No run-oriented offense is successful without a complimentary screen play, and Weiner’s spin offense uses the spin screen (See Diagram 3) up to five times a game. The spin screen is in the same package as the spin pass and spin sweep. By design, it is a screen to the fullback using the exact same backfield action of the spin pass and sweep. In “Spin Screen Left,” the offensive line will initially zone block to the side of the sweep fake like they did in spin pass. The left tackle, left guard and center will pause for a count of “thousand one, thousand two” then release flat down the line of scrimmage. The tackle will be responsible for the widest defender (usually the corner) and the guard picks up the alley player (a free safety in cover three). After releasing, the center will turn back toward the backfield to pick up any rusher who has “sniffed out” the screen.

Diagram 3. Spin screen left The left slot will go in motion to fake the sweep and then protect the front side edge, while the right slot releases vertically down the field to show pass only after checking for an outside blitz. The right wide receiver will run a vertical route as well just to soften the cornerback. The FB protects backside just as he would in spin pass, but then releases for the screen after chipping the outside shoulder of the backside defensive end. “It’s important for him to do this because it allows for a more natural release and turn for the pass,” says Weiner. “A lot of teams give away the screen because the receiver will slip directly out to the flat without hesitating. The entire play is based on timing.” The receiver to the side of the screen will execute a push crack technique, pushing vertical for three steps then cracking on the first defender inside. The QB runs the track of the spin pass, sets his feet and then drops back a few more steps to throw the screen to the FB. While Weiner likes to call the play on third and medium (3-7 yards) situations, often times he would use it just to get his QB some confidence early in the game by giving him short, high percentage throws. “The play starts off pulling defenses to the sweep,” says Weiner. “Then as the defense recognizes pass, we take advantage of a hard backside rush by screening them.” The Short-Yardage Package Once he’s inside the red zone, Weiner will utilize his “Tank” formation, which is a double tight end, double wing formation (See Diagram 4). But instead of changing personnel, which would make it easier for defenses to see and adjust, Weiner simply moves his outside receivers into tight end alignments. It provides for a balanced front without any interchanging in the huddle. Weiner runs the spin pass the same way with the backside slot coming in motion to block the edge after selling the sweep fake. The changeup is the playside slot will run the flat route with the playside tight end running a corner route targeting the back pile on. The backside receiver will still run the drag, only this time it will be a tight end and not a flanker. The offensive line will turn to protect just as they would in the spin pass.

Diagram 4. 'Tank formation' - Spin pass right Tank “screen left” is also utilized by Weiner as a goal line play. The entire line blocks the same technique as the spin screen, but the changeup is the slot gets the screen pass after slicing across the formation on the snap (See Diagram 5). The QB fakes the spin sweep to the right slot and the FB blocks the backside edge, like spin pass, instead of going out for the screen. The backside tight end will run a vertical route to draw the free or near safety. “It’s a sucker play on the goal line,” says Weiner. “Most teams won’t have the courage to run a screen on the goal line, but that’s the beauty in it.”

Diagram 5. 'Tank formation' - Screen left

The Spin Counter & Bootleg Series
When defenses commit to stopping the outside running game, the offense must then have an answer: The Spin Counter & Bootleg Series by: Dale Weiner Head Coach, Catholic High School, Baton Rouge (LA) © May 2007

The Spin Offense is designed to take advantage of speed and deception. Most defenses must make sure that a team using the Spin doesn’t make a living on the outside running game. Both the Spin Sweep and Spin Reverse are mainstays of the offense. If a defense can’t defend the perimeter, they will see a steady diet of those plays, as well as the Spin Option. When defenses do commit to stopping the outside running game, the offense must then have an answer. One answer is the Spin Counter/Bootleg series. The Spin Counter The Spin Counter (See Diagram 1) is an excellent inside misdirection play. This will look familiar to any Wing-T or Single Wing coach. The playside slot goes in motion to fake the sweep. The backside slot takes a drop step and crossover to get the ball underneath the QB. We emphasize to the counter slot to get his shoulders upfield as quickly as possible. We don’t want this play to take too long.

Diagram 1: Spin Counter The QB executes his sweep pivot and hands off underneath. He then carries out a fake away from the direction of the play. The FB lines up in the backside “A” gap and fills the “B” gap. A big coaching point here is to tell the FB that he does not necessarily have a specific defender. He must attack the gap for whatever shows. We like to pull the backside guard and tackle. The guard leads the play and kicks out or logs the end man on the LOS. The tackle turns up or goes around the guard’s block. The playside guard and tackle base or combo to the near inside LB. The center fills the backside “A” gap. Against some fronts, we prefer to pull the guard only. We do this if we’re worried about not being able to account for both inside LB’s (See Diagram 2).

Diagram 2: Spin Counter There is even a situation in which we don’t pull any linemen. With some defenses that give you a nine man look and blitz one or more LB’s every play, we simply have the FB come across from his backside

alignment and kick out the defender we are attacking. This works well against the 3-3-5 defense that is gaining popularity (See Diagram 3).

Diagram 3: Spin Counter The Spin Bootleg To complement the Spin Counter, we utilize the Spin Bootleg (See Diagram 4). This play is a “key breaker” off of the Spin Counter. It will utilize the same routes as the waggle out of the Wing-T. On the Spin Bootleg left, the right slot will go in motion and then get down hill quickly to help seal the edge. The left slot will execute his drop step cross over and fake the counter right. He protects the backside.

Diagram 4: Spin Bootleg The FB will fake the fill block and head into the left flat. He usually becomes our primary target. We pull the playside guard to the backside to sell the counter. The playside tackle blocks down on the guard’s man, which also gives a flow read to the backside. Remember that some teams are really going to key the guard’s pull to read the direction of the play. The left WR will run a “crack corner” route. The right WR, who compressed his split a little bit, will run a drag. The QB pivots to fake the counter, then gains depth to carry out the bootleg. He checks the corner quickly, but will usually throw to the FB in the flat. His third option is the drag. We tell the QB that if his first two options are closed, the drag is always open. The backside linemen will reach playside. We have great backside protection due to the counter fake and pulling linemen. Both the Spin Counter and Spin Bootleg give the Spin offense a perfect misdirection complement to the outside running game.

The Spin Offense: The Weakside Attack
by: Barry Gibson Offensive Coordinator, Citronelle HS (AL) © October 2007

Six years ago, I was the offensive coordinator at St. Andrews Episcopal High School in Ridgeland, MS. I was at a point in my career where I wanted to design an offense that would not only be different but would also help a team with average talent to compete against much stronger and more talented teams. With 23 years of coaching experience under my belt, I had run just about every kind of offense you could imagine. It was at that time I created the 'Spin Offense.' By combining some ideas from the 'old school' single wing offense I had been running with a 'new age' spread offensive look, I had just what I was looking for with the Spin. Spreading the field with this formation is what makes this offense so unique and somewhat different from the tight unbalanced formations of the single wing era. After reading an article I had written on my new offense, Coach Dale Weiner from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA called me along with many other coaches across the country and asked about the offense. I was calling it the 'Combo Offense' at the time. Hats off to Coach Weiner and his staff! After incorporating the 'Spin Offense' (I like the new name even better) into their already successful schemes, Catholic High School has experienced tremendous success the past six years. Like any successful coach will do, Coach Weiner has taken this offense and tweaked it to fit the talents of his personnel. Many readers have become somewhat familiar with the Spin Offense now because of American Football Monthly and Dale Weiner’s videos. Outside of the spin counter, the fullback screen left and the spin reverse, most of the plays that have been discussed have been strongside plays. What I would like to do in this article is to share with you some ways to attack the weakside which in this offense is away from where the fullback lines up. Spin Blast Weak First, let’s look at spin blast weak, without a doubt my favorite weakside play in the entire arsenal (See Diagram 1). After the left slot back comes in fast motion, the quarterback will spin as usual, faking the spin sweep. But this time he needs to make a full 360 degree spin or with his left foot aiming towards the weakside of the formation. The technique involved in getting the quarterback headed in the right direction is teaching him to place his right foot in front and slightly past his left foot after receiving the snap. After he makes his full spin, his left foot will be pointing directly towards the weakside off-tackle hole, exactly where he needs to go. The right slot back carries out his fake off of the quarterback’s spin. He then continues outside of the defense and into a pitch relationship upfield with the quarterback. It’s very important that you coach him to get into that pitch relationship and not give up after the fake. Many times running this play, our quarterback has made the pitch downfield to the right slot back for an easy touchdown when the free safety came up to stop the QB. The offensive line’s blocking scheme is identical to the spin blast with the exception of the play going to the weakside. This play is deadly to over-pursuing linebackers trying to stop the base play of the offense, the spin sweep.

Diargram1: Spin blast weakside Spin Trap When we see an eight-man front, particularly some type of split-4 defense with the tackles in a 2 or 3 technique, I will immediately run the spin trap (See Diagram 2). This is a misdirection trap play to the

weakside which is extremely effective after establishing the spin sweep and the spin reverse. With the left and right slot backs faking the spin reverse, the center will direct snap the ball to the fullback. A typical trap-blocking scheme is incorporated here with the center blocking backside for the pulling right guard. He will trap the playside 2 or 3 technique tackle. The left guard and left tackle will block down. The X receiver will block the first threat downfield in the secondary. The key to the success of this play is the faking of the slot backs, keeping the outside linebackers entertained and guessing whether or not who has the football.

Diagram 2: Spin trap Spin Shovel Pass Another great misdirection play to the weakside and a complementary play to the spin sweep is the spin shovel pass (See Diagram 3). The play starts with the left slot coming in fast motion, faking the spin sweep. The QB will spin and give the appearance of running the spin option, another proven play of the offense. However, instead of running the ball or pitching to the left slot on the option, he will shovel pass to the right slot.

Diagram 3: Spin shovel pass On the snap, the right slot will take a crossover counter step, turn his back to the line of scrimmage and plant off his left foot. He will immediately look for the pitch from the QB and cut off the kick-out block from the right guard. The fullback also takes a counter step but his is an open step instead of a crossover step. He pulls through the hole looking to block the outside LB or the first unfriendly jersey he sees. The left guard and tackle will block first man inside or use a combo block to the Mike linebacker. The right tackle must do a great job of cutting off the defensive end; his block will be helped by the threat of the option coming right at him. The Sam linebacker must respect the QB running the ball on the option or the option pitch to the left slot. If he does not, we will be running that play at him all night long. Spin Jump Pass When you want to bring a tight end into the game and still run the spin sweep and most of the offense, you can do so by running out of what I call our ‘Eagle Formation’ (See Diagram 4). In the eagle formation, we simply align the left slot back in his normal alignment and stance outside of the tight end. This is one yard outside and one and a half yards deep. I bring the right split end down to a ‘nasty’ split of about four yards outside of the right tackle. The right slot back will line up in his normal position from the right tackle as usual. A favorite play of mine out of this formation is the spin jump pass (See Diagram 5). This is a staple play from the old single wing days. It is just as devastating today out of the spin offense because it is rarely seen. The play is so effective because the QB has been spinning almost every play and either giving the ball to one of the slot backs or keeping the ball himself.

Diagram 4: Eagle formation

Diagram 5: Spin jump pass After the QB spins and fakes the sweep to the left slot back, he attacks the LOS towards the right, offtackle hole. Just before he gets there he jumps straight up as if he were about to shoot a jump shot in a basketball game. He then delivers a quick pass to the tight end who has run a delay route in behind the linebackers anywhere between seven and nine yards deep. The right split end runs through the safety to draw him out of the middle of the field and the right slot back runs a wheel route. The fullback blocks the edge to the play side and the offensive line blocks big-on-big aggressively. You may have seen Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators run the play this past season. They run it out of a different formation with a slight twist to it, using Tim Tebow at QB. The difference is that Meyer chose not to spin the quarterback off of motion. Instead he ran the QB straight to the LOS and then had him jump up to make the pass to the tight end. Bottom line and anyway you look at it, it’s still the jump pass! I believe using fast motion and spinning the quarterback gives this play even more deception and incredible results. Spin Pass / X Slant Anytime you have the success we’ve had running the football from the spin offense, the defense will try to make adjustments and do some things to try to stop all the misdirection and confusion that this offense brings to the table. When they do those things, some defenses will gamble and leave other spin plays wide open. For instance, if we see a defense blitzing the backside linebacker, trying to chase the spin sweep or blow up the spin counter play, I won’t hesitate to call the spin pass / x slant (See Diagram 6). This pass play will expose the open void area to the weakside left by the blitzing Will linebacker. The play begins in normal fashion with the left slot coming in fast motion. Once again, like so many other spin plays, the first part of the play looks identical to the defense. This approach does not give the ‘bad guys’ a clue as to what is about to happen next. After the fake, the left slot will turn up and protect the edge. The fullback will block the backside edge and look for the most dangerous threat to get to the QB.

Diagram 6: Spin pass/X slant I like a zone protection scheme with the offensive line because occasionally we will use a zone scheme

when running the spin sweep. The quarterback will execute his spin, take one drop-step straight back and throw the ball to the X receiver, running a three-step slant route. In case the slant area is not open for any reason, the quarterback immediately looks for the right slot on a swing route. This route has proven to be open many times since most Sam linebackers will attack the LOS aggressively trying to stop the spin sweep. The right split end runs a ‘slant and go’ to give us a deep threat if we need it. In running the Spin Offense, as in any offense, you must attack both the strongside and weakside areas of the defense to be effective. I hope these ideas will help you in becoming a more complete offense as well as increasing your scoring potential.

Multiple Formations in the Spin Offense
by: Dale Weiner Head Coach, Catholic High School, Baton Rouge (LA) © November 2007

Offensive coaches have long recognized the benefit of running a group of plays from a variety of formations. While the adjustments for the offense are usually minimal, the defense often times must apply significant switching of responsibilities. This can result in defensive confusion and breakdowns. The Spin Offense is no different. While previous articles in American Football Monthly’s series on the Spin have focused on the base formation – the double slot, we do use several sets. We are looking for a way to out flank the defense, and in the process, gain an advantage at the point of attack. We will examine a few of the formations that have been successful for us over the past several seasons. One such variation is the Wing-Slot. We will either insert a tight end into the game, or simply designate one of our wide outs to align himself tight. Typically, our tight end will have a three foot split with the tackle. This will provide us an additional blocker when we want to seal off the tackle area. It also forces the defense to make a decision as to what area they are more concerned with. Do they rotate the secondary to our strong side, that is the tight end-wing, or do they concentrate on the open slot side? Once we determine what the defensive strategy is, we can then exploit what’s our best attack. We really like this set, as it gives us a quick access to the outside running game and play action passing to the slot. It also gives us the benefit of the tight end’s blocking on the wing side. However, we have had much success turning the corner to the wing, as well as a surprisingly good play-action passing game to the same side. When we see teams off-setting the front to the wing, we can go with our spin blast and counter to the slot side (See Diagrams 1 and 2).

Diagram 1: Spin blast into slot side

Diagram 2: Spin counter into slot If teams try to balance up, we can attack either way and really get plenty of blockers to the wing side (See Diagram 3).

Diagram 3: Spin blast into wing When we see the coverage is balanced, we can go either way with our Spin Pass. If the coverage declares a side, we can attack the opposite side (See Diagram 4). It must be noted that we work hard on the QB using audibles to call the best play.

Diagram 4: Spin pass away from inverted safety Based on our game plan, we may go into a game with the idea of running the double wing. I get a lot of questions about the Spin Offense from Double Wing coaches. I think this is a great formation to operate this offense. Like the Double Slot, the Double Wing is a balanced formation. It forces the defense to balance up and defend both sides of the formation equally. Again, sometimes the defense declares a side before the snap. We will go the other way. The Spin Offense provides a great power game from the Double Wing. In addition to the Spin Blast, which is a mainstay of the offense, the Spin Wham (Iso) is another great inside power play (Diagram 5).

Diagram 5: Spin wham (iso) Due to the fact that the Double Wing is a balanced formation, we often see rolled up corners and twin safeties. The Spin Pass is a great play action pass against this coverage. The play side end will inside release, just as he does on many run plays. Then he breaks for the deep corner. The wing releases into the flat. This creates a high-low situation for the QB’s read. Meanwhile, we will run the backside tight end on a drag that splits the difference. The line zones playside as the FB protects our backside. This is an excellent red zone play! The final set we will examine is our Double ‘Nasty’ Slot (Diagram 6). The Nasty Slot, of course, is a compressed end to the slot side. We can call a nasty to one side or both. I prefer a double nasty look. Again, this has the advantage of being balanced. We like the nasty slot to get great ‘down’ blocks on the end man on the line of scrimmage. Obviously, this is great for the spin sweep and reverse (See Diagrams 7 and 8).

Diagram 6: Double 'nasty' slot

Diagram 7: Spin sweep-zone blocking

Diagram 8: spin reverse While there are any number of formations from which to operate the Spin Offense, these are among our favorites.

AFM Subscribers Ask...
with Dale Weiner © March 2007

Catholic High School Coach (Baton Rouge, LA) Dale Weiner has been a coach for 32 years with the last 21 as the head man at CHS. During that time, his teams have a 201-48 overall record with 13 district titles and have been either a state finalist or semi-finalist a total of 7 times. CHS has a current playoff streak, as well, of 19 consecutive years. He has coached, among other outstanding athletes, Warrick Dunn, Major Applewhite and Travis Minor. During the 2001 season Weiner and his staff began putting together the ‘Spin’ offense. Unveiled during the 2001 playoffs, the “Spin” derives its name because the QB pivots on every snap. Since its inception, the results have been nothing short of incredible: a 50-9 overall record and an average of nearly 35 ppg. Coach Weiner answers your specific questions about this offense... Q. When introducing a new style of offense to your players, what bumps or obstacles did you have to overcome to gain the trust and respect of your athletes to assure them this brand of offense would thrive? Aaron Hancock, Assistant Coach, Wyoming High School (OH). AFM subscriber since 2005. We really don’t have much of a problem on our team because our players have come to expect new things. That's just us. However, I think if the team has confidence in the coach, they will have confidence in what he is trying to do with them. It's always important to make them understand that you are not doing something out of desperation, but to take advantage of their strengths. Q. What, essentially, is the ‘Spin’ offense and what do you feel are its greatest advantages? John Potemkin, Assistant Coach, Chatsworth High School (DE). AFM subscriber since 2003. The Spin offense is a combination of the Spread Shotgun, Wing T, and Single Wing offenses. It involves a QB pivoting his back to the defense in order to hand the ball off or keep it as he executes each play. This offense’s prinmary strength is its deception. Any player in the backfield can wind up with the football. A team can run sweeps, dives, off-tackle power, counters, reverses, options and iso plays. There are also play action passing, screens, and bootlegs. I think there are three distinct advantages of the Spin: A. It’s different and therefore causes defenses extra preparation. B. It takes advantage of speedy backs. C. It is very deceptive. Q. With your offense, when you game plan what do you first look at in the defense you see and how do the defenses change to your offense? Nick Marchy, Offensive Coordinator, Patterson High School (CA). AFM subscriber since 2006. We first try to determine what front the defense is going to give us. This, of course helps us to make the blocking adjustments that we need. Next, we want to see how the secondary is going to play, both in their adjustment to motion and who will be the force defenders. This helps us to choose how to block our perimeter game and which route tags to use. Q. With all of your backfield action in the Spin offense, how much do you rely on your fullback to carry the football? Also, is the major portion of your passing game play action, sprint, or drop back? Please describe what benefit you see with the passing game you use. Joe Pearson, Head coach, Solanco High School (PA). AFM subscriber since 2004. Our fullback does not get the ball as often as the other backs in the backfield, but we do use him on the base dives and in our screen and bootleg. All of our passes in the Spin offense are of a play action nature. These passes take full advantage of over pursuit in the secondary. Q. How would the blocking change against a 5-2, Cover 2 defense? Also, what are the blocking rules for the fullback? Kevin Waters, JV Head Coach, Lakeside High School, Evans, GA. AFM subscriber since 2006. The 5-2 blocking does not really change. However, we would probably change the formation a little and get a tight end or two involved. It must be remembered that we can always adjust the blocking to pull one guard, a guard and a tackle, or a guard and the fullback, or pull no one and simply zone. We do this with any defense we see. The wide-outs typically crack on the near safety on most of our spin plays vs the

Cover 2. This sets up the Spin pass very well. Q. In trying to get the most out of the ‘Spin’ offense, what types of athletes do you need to make it work? Do the skill players – QB, tailback, and receivers – all have to have great athleticism. Also, what do you look for in your linemen for this offense? Steve Bogard, Assistant Coach, Northwest High School (KS). AFM subscriber since 2004. Without a doubt, the Spin takes advantage of speed athletes. I don’t think you can get the most out of this offense with plodding type players. Due to the emphasis on the perimeter game, complemented by misdirection, the backs that can really run are the one's that will be most beneficial. Hopefully, you would have linemen that can pull on the sweeps, reverses, and counters. One last thing – I believe to fully take advantage of all the possibilities of the Spin offense, you must have a QB that can run and carry out fakes. He doesn’t have to be fast, but fearless.

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