Michigan's single wing offense (great video)

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on October 9th, 2017 at 7:31 PM

Amazing footage of the Fritz Crisler offenses. 

I wish football was still played this way. There is some colorized 1948 Rose Bowl footage on youtube but it's pretty choppy. This video is impressive.



October 9th, 2017 at 8:30 PM ^

Watch the video carefully and track the helmets- you will see VERY little head banging. Even the lines fight with heads up. 

Reinforced helmets definitely led to them being used as battering rams more often. I would bet that those guys back then had far fewer concussions than today.

Just watch the film- focus on thew helmets



October 9th, 2017 at 7:44 PM ^

Baylor was down its top 2 QBs, top WR, top RB, and RT, so they went single wing, had five different players line up as "QB," and ran for 645 yards.  Would love if we had that level of coaching creativity and acumen on the offensive side of the ball.  


October 9th, 2017 at 8:49 PM ^

The other awesome thing you can see in this video is my favorite thing about the Crisler single-wing:  the "spinner series," where the halfback or fullback (generally but not always the player who takes the snap) performs a complete 360-degree spin while handing off, faking a handoff, and/or faking two handoffs.  

Even though much of the single-wing playbook has come back over the last couple of decades, you don't see spinner plays any more.

Watch especially 1:55 to 3:15 in the video.  Notice that some of the handoffs and fakes are weirdly taking place almost at knee level.  There are a couple of right hand fake and left hand handoff plays that must have taken hours of practice to get the footwork and timing just right.


October 9th, 2017 at 10:08 PM ^

Is that it's pretty much impossible to sustain blocks for as long as is necessary for all the fakes and ball handling in the backfield against a modern defense. Though it has a superficial resemblance to modern spread option offenses, it's not really a read option offense. But it's fine to watch, reminisce and dream.


October 9th, 2017 at 8:01 PM ^

My high school team ran the single-wing offense in the 1960s. Just a few years ago, Princeton in their winged helmets was running a variation of the single-wing offense that it used during most of the 1960s. I wouldn't mind seeing a Michigan backfield of Karan Higdon, Eddie McDoom, Ben Mason and Zach Gentry run some single-wing plays. 


October 9th, 2017 at 8:12 PM ^

It's funny how it looks much more like a modern college offense than something from, say, Bo's era.

Things go in cycles.

They used to have a VCR tape of the Michigan '48 season Rose Bowl: "7 Touchdowns in January", something like that.  

I remember seeing snippets of it during Bo's era and thinking "Why don't they try to run something like that now?"

Little did I know that they eventually would.

We always tend to think that we've reached the top of the evolutionary food chain when it comes to current schemes, but we are really just one link in a long chain.




October 9th, 2017 at 9:25 PM ^

Would love to see an off season UFR of this....though Brian may go crazy trying to figure it out.

I love that the first forward pass you see is a third of the way thru and immediately intercepted.

The best part is the presnap shift so they could change who it would be snapped to.


October 9th, 2017 at 10:55 PM ^

The reaction to this must have been similar to when the zone read spread became prevalent . . . "Nobody can figure out how to stop it!" 

But eventually they did figure out how to stop it.

They always do.



October 10th, 2017 at 7:49 AM ^

That's true about the head banging; no face masks either in 1948.  It an irony: the more protection for the players, the harder the hitting, and thus more injuries.

Not sure i "get" the Beethoven in the background.