Wednesday, July 28, 2010

5 Wide... Not as cool as you think.

As a big fan of the "let if fly" passing game, you would think the more receivers the better would be my mantra... Well, it was... but I finally realized that every good machine must have the correct parts to make it run.

Can you run the 5 wide offense with any group of kids you happen upon? I don't think so... Let me explain why.

My first chance to call the shots on offense, I took the approach of 5 wide, chuck and duck and let it fly. The first problem we ran into was with extra receivers comes extra routes... this creates extra things for the QB to process. Although this is a small problem, it still is a problem.

Later in the season we started giving the QB primary and secondary reads and then told him to run if the second option was not open. We ended up winning our final game of the season and throwing for nearly 500 yards in our final two games. (the winning of the last game prevented a 30 game losing streak)

Here is a video of our second to last game.

In this video we did a few things different than we had done all year long. Thus giving us the element of surprise.

This team really did some things on defense that fit well with our game plan. Our receiver caught 13 passes in that game and our QB threw for right at 250 yards.

After that season I was named Head Coach at Terry Bradshaw's old high school and I felt I needed to pick up where I had left off the season before.

I arrived during the spring and had roughly 14 days before playing in a 3 team scrimmage.

I had one kid who had never really played football in high school, but had a great arm. I also had a super athlete who was a great runner, but really wasn't much of a passing threat.

Here is a video of those kids in our 5 wide offense in our spring scrimmage.

We ended up losing number 6 for the first 6 games of the season and our world fell apart. We now had a strong armed kid at QB, but he presented zero chance of running. We ended up having to bring a kid into the backfield to run the ball in order to keep defenses honest.

So now I came to realize problem #2 with the 5 wide offense. You cannot just insert any old QB into the 5 wide offense and expect to have success.

In order for this offense to work, your QB must present a run threat. Now, I'm not saying he has to be a threat to score on every play... but he must be able to take off and pick up yards when the defense dictates it.

Otto Zeman put out a video explaining his 5 Wide No Back Offense.
In his offense, the only running play used was the QB draw. His QB in the video was pretty good, and really made the defense pay when they failed to respect all running gaps.

As important as it is to present a run threat by a 5 wide QB, he also must be able to play the role of a true QB. If you were to place a great runner behind center that really was not that great of a passer, you invite the defense to tighten up and play with 8 in the box.

Thinking back over my 10 years of coaching high school football, I have only worked with 1 kid who I could say would make a great 5 wide QB. He was not the fastest kid Ive had, but was a very nifty runner and was very elusive. He also had a cannon for an arm and threw 30 tds as a sophomore. He is currently playing for Arkansas Pine Bluff.

There have been others in my career who were great runners and average passers... but none that I really feel could have given our team a great chance to win in an exclusively 5 Wide attack.
When I think back to all of the names that we all know as QB's in the NFL or NCAA... there are several that I would hand pick if I were building a roster to run a 5 wide offense..

Terrelle Pryor
Steve Young
Michael Vick

But most of them have probably never played in an exclusively empty offense.

So just what does one of these super talented QB's in a wide open 5 wide offense look like??

Maty Mauk is a name that all of us will soon hear every weekend during football season. He is the Jr to be QB of Kenton High School out of Kenton Ohio. His father is his coach and they operate nearly exclusively from an empty backfield.

Mauk threw for just over 4500 yards and ran for another 660. I think that more than qualifies him as a threat both as a passer and a runner.

Here is a highlight video of Mauk's sophomore season.

So in closing. As a 5 wide enthusiast, I really love the pure magic that this high octane offense can produce... but, I have finally come to realize just how limited this machine can become with the wrong parts in place.

So just a thought for anyone wanting to explore the option of running a true empty offense... make sure you can maintain a run threat with your QB... if not, you could be very easy to defend.

Coming soon... The Empty Wing-T Offense.


  1. Great post. It is refreshing to see someone willing to fully engulf thier team in a 5 wide no back set as I have done and so few have done over the last decade. Some of your beliefs are very true, but I saw alot of flaws in your video, and some great tips should you or anyone reading this could do. As you mentioned, the Mauk kid did an outstanding job at Kenton. But, it is the system that combined with a rare athlete that drove Kenton's sucess. Here in 2012, thier QB this year had the same numbers as Mauk did. My point is that you must whole heartedly believe in its principals (5wide) and techniques, for it can be run with any athletes.

  2. Not sure why you weren't running jet sweep or speed option out of empty? How about rocket sweep and counter off of jet and rocket? Maybe you had those in but I don't believe for a second that your QB must be a threat to run. I think he needs the ability to run it but there are a lot of things schematically that you can do from empty in the running game other than QB draw.

  3. Awesome post love the in depth detail of this!

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