The Wishbone is an offensive set that features three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers to go along with the typical five offensive lineman and the quarterback. The base set has one tight ends and one wide receiver.

The diagram below illustrates how players are often aligned in a base set. Please note that base formation is a coaching decision and will vary by program.

While there are some variations, the typical alignment of players for the Wishbone are:

  1. Offensive Lineman – Guards take a 2 foot split from the Center and Tackles take a 3-5 foot split from the Guards. Alignment will vary based on play call and blocking scheme.
  2. Wide Receivers or Split Ends – Generally wide, often outside of the numbers. Also with variances based on play call and blocking scheme
  3. Quarterback – Under Center
  4. Tail Backs – Tail Back’s are aligned 4-5 yards off the line of scrimmage, and will be behind the guards. This will often be adjusted based on back speed, play call, blocking scheme, or defensive alignment.
  5. Fullback – The fullback alignment usually varies between 3 and 4 yards from the line of scrimmage. Fullback alignment will vary based on back speed, play call, blocking scheme, and defensive alignment.

The Wishbone is the original formation where formations such as the Flexbone and the Double Wing originated. According to Wikipedia, most people believe Emory Bellard developed the Wishbone, however, the origins are debatable. Barry Switzer claims Charles Cason modified the T-Formation  to get the Fullback to the point of attack quicker.

Wishbone teams also commonly use other formations in certain situations to either gain a numbers or leverage advantage over the defensive scheme they are facing. Modifications  will spread defenses out and give the offense a better ability to pass the football. Take a look at some of the other Wishbone formations being used.

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