Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Unity of Apparent Intent

The following is a synopsis of what I consider the finest, free playbook on the internet:


Ted Seay (who, despite our never having met, has influenced me greatly) now has this gem in it’s 4th edition (available here). Schematically, 10/20 personnel Wing-T that combines series based runs with modern horizontal and vertical stretches is my cup of tea. Even if it is not your brand of football, I stand by my sentiment that EVERYONE concerned with offensive football should read this document.

In particular, as feeble an attempt as it may be, I would like to review Mr. Seay’s concept of “unity of apparent intent” (UAI). My intention is certainly not to add to this idea, nor do I trust I can adequately rehash it. My hope is to relay enough information that your interest is peaked and you will do yourself the service of reading about the “side order of football”.


The UAI is all about deception, a key component of the Wild bunch offense (and every other scheme). Starting at page 154 of the linked document, Mr. Seay artfully ties military strategy with football philosophy, creating his theory of attack as it pertains to offensive football. Again, go read the document for this valuable insight, as the scope of Mr. Seay’s theory (The Tao of Deception) is another article in and of itself. For now, I want to focus on what this means from a series based approach.

Creating conflict, in its most simple form, involves attacking a defender’s over reaction to a base play.


The above diagram is a crude drawing of the curl-flat concept, where by the Flat Defender ($) is placed in a no-win situation. He can either cover the out route and allow the Curl to materialize behind and inside of him, or he can sink to the curl and give up the easy throw to the out.

It is a typical 2 on 1 stretch that many offensive passing concepts seek to create, and unless the flat defender receives help from one of his teammates, the only thing stopping the offense from running curl-flat all the way down the field is a lack of offensive execution.

So here is what happens:

The cornerback (C) will only allow 10 yards completions happen right in front of him for so long before he starts playing the curl (instead of his deep 1/3 responsibility). Attacking overreaction (cheating of assignment, over aggression, etc.) is what series based play calling/offensive structure is all about.


Another crude drawing, but the wheel tag is an excellent way to attack a CB who is jumping curl routes. Essentially, we are attacking the primary responsibility of a player who has abandoned it in favor of “plugging the dike” somewhere else.

So, that is a simple example of what we mean generally by “creating conflict”. The UAI, however, is about the details. It’s about making Y’s out and wheel routes stem the exact same way. When two things look the same, but end up attacking a defensive in ways that are not only different, but in fact complimentary, then you have developed the unity of apparent intent to your advantage.

Imagine the CB has a great position coach….one who is determined to make cover 3 work against this little curl-flat with the wheel tag package. He decides to teach his CB to key #2 (Y) in his backpedal. He notices that on Curl flat, Y will vertical stem his route before breaking it hard to the flat. On the Wheel, however, Y will stem straight toward the sidelines and start to veer up field.

So, if Y stems vertical, then the CB has the ability to press the curl…….if Y immediately releases to the flat, then the CB knows he must play the wheel. The pattern of an offensive player’s movement tells the defender where he needs to be.

When it comes to making offensive decisions about “how do we run this route”, etc., this must be in the forefront of the play designer’s mind. Routes need to stem the same way (and runs need to look the same too) in order to keep the defense in a state of confusion/uncertainty. When an offense eliminates cues as to their intention, thereby gaining UAI, the offense functions far more efficiently.

For Mr. Seay, this culminated in how he blocked Fly sweep and the FB compliment off it for his Wild bunch.

Coming from a Wing-T background, Mr. Seay’s original version had pulling OG’s on the sweeps. After much study, he finally decided to switch to zone blocking everything.

The result is a truly UNREADABLE offensive series that starts with Jet Sweep (with OZ blocking). The compliment is the front side IZ run with the FB, which Mr. Seay’s research has shown actually averages more yards per call than the sweep. The OL movement and backfield mechanics look EXACTLY the same on both plays, leaving defenders without a reliable visual key.

We talked about curl-flat and Jet Sweep series, but this concept needs to be built into everything you do, regardless of your offense flavor.

Obviously the ability to execute is paramount, but winning football games against good competition comes down to details. That guy running the Jet needs to move at the same pre-snap speed and purpose whether he is getting the ball or not. We can’t cheat initial movements too much (though a little may be advisable in certain situations), and especially if we do not have a GOOD REASON for it.

Again, great stuff from Mr. Seay.


I appreciate the comments.

Per Mr. Seay's invitation, here is a link to some new WB material:

Enjoy it.......I know I will!


Anonymous said...

There's an interesting question here of whether motion language (e.g. "we use vertical stems in our routes" or "we block our series with zone schemes") should precede or follow the determination of how to break down the defense. For example, did Tony Franklin think "I want to stretch underneath zones, so I'm going to use diagonal stems" or did he think "diagonal stems make the quick game easier, facilitating protection. I can't use diagonal stems to attack deep zones easily, so we'll stretch underneath."

The question seems pretty insignificant in view of the end product, but is profoundly important in the creation of a cohesive playbook. Does one decide upon the motion and action first, or does one decide upon the attack strategy and choose motion to fit this?

Dubber said...

Great question.

I also think it is hard for a person to honestly answer that question.

Every coaching clinic you go to, there will be a list a reasons why I run this scheme I'm getting ready to show you.

Sometimes we will buy into our own dogma, and then we can't tell you why exactly we STARTED to do it this way........just why we KEEP doing it.

Why I love Mr. Seay's book is he takes you though his personal thought valuable

Anonymous said...

This is basic football 101....
for most football coaches using their internet, its become a religion and as a result they never grow.This is baby milk...with a different name on it...No offense, but whoopty do.

Anonymous said...

^what are you talking about? "its become a religion and they never grow"


Julien said...

So happy to read an article about Ted's work. I am a big fan of the Wild Bunch and I actually run it.

Dubber, I have to disagree on a point: Ted's offense is not about "zoning everything". There are few different blocking rules, at least 3.

Anonymous said...

This is basic offensive football. Fine and dandy...
but like baby milk, this is for babies. At some point, you have to decide your going to grow......

Ted Seay said...

Broph: Thank you, kind sir!

All: Here is the latest version, or rather the "menu" of current suggestions as opposed to the "cookbook" that Brophy links.

And as far as Coach Anonymous from March 31 is concerned (BTW, is that Greek, or Latvian?) -- if the Wild Bunch is "baby milk", let's see your adult offense. You have a pretty high-powered audience on this blog, so go for it...

endersgame said...

Mr. Seay,

Don't be provoked by the man who chooses to blast you under the name "Anonymous." The thinking process you laid out in your playbook greatly influenced me when I was first starting to learn football.

Dubber said...

1.) Updates to the post with Mr. Seay's new stuff.....

2.) Forgive me Julien. I ment to say the entire CORE FLY series (10) is block with zone.

Mr. Seay certainly uses some other blocking (traps, etc.), but what I wanted to point out (yet failed to communicate) was how his selection of OZ and IZ blocking for the fly and FB dive respectively perfectly envelopes the concept of "Unity of Apparent Intent".

The Naked Boot also helps to seal the deal, all within the UAI framework.

3.) Anon, 2 points.

A)-unless you are the apostle Paul, leave the Hebrews 5:12 references out of it.

B)-even is this is not your cup of tea from a schematic point of view (and as I clearly state in the article, I am not writing about the scheme per se), appreciate the philosophy of crafting and developing an offense.

Page 154 in the linked manual is where the rubber meets the road, and I can assure, MOST coaches never get it.

Calkayne said...

Salutes the Seay!

Unit of Apparent Intent makes sense. Reduce Schematic Keys as much as possible while maintaining positive production.

I agree with your comment Dubber, TS has a way of documenting his Philosophy to show you the evolution of the Idea, not just the end result.

Anonymous said...

mr seay or c is me....
I am not the one putting a new name on a 15 year old playbook.....and touting it as revolutionary.
A high end crowd? LOL! They are still stuck on the very fundamentals and as i put it baby milk...Curl flat like it or not is as simple as it gets.....IT has grown, unlike some coach....
why not put out a playbook that advances your "high end" group of "coaches"?

Ted Seay said...

[SIGH] Never will understand the urge to troll among football coaches -- assuming Mr. Anonymopolous actually does coach football...

Dubber said...

I believe the failure for some to understand this NOT ABOUT THE SCHEME is due less to the inability to comprehend (dumb) than it is due to the unwillingness to comprehend (a$$hole).

At any rate, I appreciate the rest of you all commenting. Judging by the quality of the prose, I should have let you all write the article.

Anonymous said...

Drivel and all his bibs.....trying to keep the babys milk in his mouth.

Coach Bayer said...

Ted, great job, but, remember what Lou Holtz said; Never wrestle with a pig, you both get covered in mud and filth, but the pig likes it.