Wofford Brings the Wing Bone Back to the WB

The Wofford Terrier's Head Coach, Mike Ayers, runs a Wing Bone offense. Ayers, who has coached Wofford for 21 years, described it as an offense that combines elements of the triple option wishbone and shotgun option attacks. Ayers' offense is even more tricky to defend because he mixes in an unbalanced line and attempts to disrupt defensive assignment football.

In the July 2008 interview at the Southern Conference version of Media Days, Ayers stated that he likes using both triple option and gun option elements in his offense because it makes preparation for his high-powered offense more difficult. The Gamecocks have a week to prepare. Wofford had a bye week last week to get ready for their meeting with South Carolina.

There is no question Wofford has a tremendous offense. It is currently the most prolific rushing offense in all of Division I football.

In Wofford's last game, Ayers unveiled freshman Mitch Allen. Allen averaged more than 16 yards per carry in his eight tries against Charleston Southern.

One version of the gun option that Wofford uses (there are several versions) focuses on two reads. As is the case with most options, one idea of the play is to leave a key defensive man unblocked and execute different options, depending on that defensive player's decisions. Because the offense does not waste a blocker on that player, it frees up more blockers at the point of attack and gives the offense advantages.

The first read for this version of the gun option is the defensive end. As you advance through the slides, notice that if the end opts to take the quarterback, then the quarterback will handoff to the first option - the running back up the middle. On the other hand, if the defensive end crashes down to tackle the first back, then the quarterback will pull the ball out and continue around the end. At that point, the quarterback shifts his read to the outside linebacker. Visit the author's Blog, http://photontorpedotube.blogspot.com, to view slides demonstrating the gun options.

If the linebacker slides out to take the pitch back, then the quarterback will cut up field. Should the linebacker decide to tackle the quarterback, then the third option comes into play - a pitch wide to the running back.

The key to stopping an efficient option offense is for the defenders to play their assignments. One player must be assigned to the dive back, one to the quarterback, and one to the pitchman. If anyone breaks down in an assignment, there is a risk of a very big play.

As mentioned above, Wofford's offense also sometimes incorporates an unbalanced type of attack. In the face of an unbalanced line, the defense must adjust by moving defenders to the unbalanced power side of the line. The defensive shift is necessary to more effectively defend against power running.

On the other hand, when the linebackers shift, the unbalance opens up opportunities for trap blocking and quick hitting dives to the weak side. In theory, the offense can chew up good gains with deception and traps running to the weak side of the unbalanced side of the offensive formation.

More insidiously still, the unbalanced Wofford attack is aimed at screwing up the assignments designated by the defensive coordinator. As mentioned above, defending the option requires certain defenders be assigned to different backs. Wofford's coaches will be watching the defense to discern those assignments. The unbalanced line allows the offensive coaches to block one of the players. For example, if their unbalance gets them an advantage, Wofford may try to block the pitchman.

Also on the author's blog is a link to the You Tube video (of the first round 2007 Football Champtionship Subdivision playoffs game between Wofford and Montana) showing the Wofford offense in action.

Please visit Edwin Turnage's blog at http://photontorpedotube.blogspot.com/

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories