I formation

The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football. The I formation draws its name from the vertical (as viewed from the opposing endzone) alignment of quarterback, fullback, and running back, particularly when contrasted with the same players' alignments in the T formation.

The formation begins with the usual 5 offensive linemen (2 offensive tackles, 2 guards, and a center), the quarterback under center, and two backs in-line behind the quarterback. The base variant adds a tight end to one side of the line and two wide receivers, one at each end of the line.

This is an example of an I formation in an NFL game. The Pittsburgh Steelers (black and yellow) are set in the I formation with one tight end and two wide receivers. The New York Jets (white and green) are lined up in a 4-3 defensive formation.
I formation
Standard I formation


The exact origin of the I formation is unclear.[1] Charles M. Hollister of Northwestern in 1900 is one source, as is Bob Zuppke in 1914.[2]

Tom Nugent is credited with developing the I formation at Virginia Military Institute in 1950 as a replacement for the single-wing and an alternative to the T formation.[3] Don Coryell, before popularizing Air Coryell, was also a pioneer of the I and used it as a high school coach in Hawaii, at Wenatchee Valley College in 1955, and at Whittier College in 1957–1959.[1][4] In 1960, Coryell was an assistant coach under John McKay for the USC Trojans. By 1962, McKay's USC team won the national title with an offense built on the I.[5] John Madden recalled going to an I formation clinic led by McKay.[6] "We'd go to these clinics, and afterward, everyone would run up to talk to McKay", said Madden. "Coryell was there because he introduced [McKay]. I was thinking, 'If [McKay] learned from him, I'll go talk to [Coryell].' [6]"

Tom Osborne, head football coach at Nebraska, further popularized the formation in the early 1970s (while the offensive coordinator under head coach Bob Devaney). He incorporated the option into his I formation scheme beginning in 1980, forming the base of the Nebraska offense for over twenty years, and winning three national championships as head coach during that period.[7] NFL teams followed the success of the I at the college level and adopted it as well.

Typical roles

The University of Texas college football team in the I formation
Texas Longhorns in the I formation. From top to bottom: tailback, fullback, quarterback, center

The I formation is typically employed in running situations. In the I formation, the tailback starts six to eight yards behind the scrimmage from an upright position, where he can survey the defense. The formation gives the tailback more opportunities for finding weak points in the defense to run into.

The fullback typically fills a blocking, rather than rushing or receiving, role in the modern game. With the fullback in the backfield as a blocker, runs can be made to either side of the line with his additional blocking support. This is contrasted with the use of tight ends as blockers who, being set up at the end of the line, are able to support runs to one side of the line only. The fullback can also be used as a feint—since the defense can spot him more easily than the running back, they may be drawn in his direction while the running back takes the ball the opposite way.

Despite the emphasis on the running game, the I formation remains an effective base for a passing attack. The formation supports up to three wide receivers and many running backs serve as an additional receiving threat. While the fullback is rarely a pass receiver, he serves as a capable additional pass blocker protecting the quarterback before the pass. The running threat posed by the formation also lends itself to the play-action pass. The flexible nature of the formation also helps prevent defenses from focusing their attention on either the run or pass.

Common variations

Big I formation
Big I formation variation

Many subtypes of the I formation exist, generally emphasizing the running or passing strengths of the base version.

  • The Big I places a tight end on each side of the offensive line (removing a wide receiver). Coupled with the fullback's blocking, this allows two additional blockers for a run in either direction. This is a running-emphasis variant.
  • The Power I replaces one wide receiver with a third back (fullback or running back) in the backfield, set up to one side of the fullback. This is a running-emphasis variant.
  • The Jumbo or Goal-line formation further extends the Power I or Big I, adding a second tight end and/or third tackle to the line, respectively. This variant has no wide receivers and is all but exclusively a running formation intended to reliably gain minimal yardage, most commonly two yards or less.
  • The Three-wide I replaces the tight end with a third wide receiver. This is a passing-emphasis variant.
  • The Maryland I (also known as the Stack I or Golden I) is similar to the Power I except that instead of placing the third back to one side of the fullback, the fullback, third back, and tailback line up directly in front of each other (hence the term "Stack"). Obviously, this is a running-emphasis variant made popular by the Maryland Terrapins football team of the 1950s under Tom Nugent.
  • The Tight I is similar to the Maryland I except that the extra back (who happens to be the tight end) is aligned between the quarterback and fullback in the alignment. The split end and the player who normally lines up as flanker are both aligned on the line of scrimmage split away from the end man on the line of scrimmage. This formation was used by the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings so as to create confusion in the Minnesota defense's lining up against the Chiefs offense.

The I formation, in any variant, can also be modified as Strong or Weak. This formation is commonly called an Offset I. In either case, the fullback lines up roughly a yard laterally to his usual position. Strong refers to a move towards the TE side of the formation (Primary TE, or flanker's side when in a "big" 2TE set), weak in the opposite direction. These modifications have little effect on expected play call. However, the Offset I allows a fullback to more easily avoid blockers and get out of the backfield to become a receiver.

In professional football

In the NFL, the I formation is less frequently used than in college, as the use of the fullback as a blocker has given way to formations with additional tight ends and wide receivers, who may be called on to block during running plays. The increasingly common ace formation replaces the fullback with an additional receiver, who lines up along the line of scrimmage. The I will typically be used in short-yardage and goal line situations.

See also


  1. ^ a b Layden, Tim. "Don Coryell 1924--2010". SI.com. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  2. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=OmwfnipKuogC&pg=PA83
  3. ^ Tom Nugent obituary, USA Today
  4. ^ Center, Bill. "Don Coryell, ex-Chargers, Aztecs coach dies at 85". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  5. ^ The I Formation: Offensive Bread and Butter, footballoutsiders.com
  6. ^ a b Inman, Cam. "For Don Coryell, to air was divine". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  7. ^ Tom Osborne biography, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archived 2007-12-06 at the Wayback Machine
1524 in France

Events from the year 1524 in France

1953 Florida State Seminoles football team

The 1953 Florida State Seminoles football team represented Florida State University in the 1953 college football season. In 1953, Tom Nugent, the creator of the I formation, became head coach. He was coach for six years, and compiled a 34–28–1 record.

1969 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

The 1969 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team represented the University of Nebraska in the 1969 college football season. The team was coached by Bob Devaney and played their home games in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. In his first year as offensive coordinator, Tom Osborne instituted the I formation. The team started 2–2, then won their final six regular season games to tie for the conference championship. They were invited to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, where they decisively beat the Georgia Bulldogs to finish the season at 9–2. The strong finish in 1969 was followed by national championships for the Huskers in 1970 and 1971.

1970 Oklahoma Sooners football team

The 1970 Oklahoma Sooners football team represented the University of Oklahoma in the 1970 NCAA University Division football season, the 76th season of Sooner football. The team was led by head coach Chuck Fairbanks in his fourth season as the OU head coach. They played their home games at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. They were a member of the Big Eight Conference.

Conference play began at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado on October 17, with a win over the Colorado Buffaloes, and ended on November 28 at home in Norman with a win over Oklahoma State in the annual Bedlam Series. The Sooners lost their second conference game to Kansas State; the Wildcats' next victory in the series would not occur until 1993.

Following a loss in their third game to Oregon State, the Sooners installed the Wishbone offense during the open week prior to the Red River Shootout vs. Texas. The Sooners would run the Wishbone continuously, save for a switch to the I formation in 1982 and 1983, until the early 1990s.

After finishing the regular season with a record of 7–4 (5–2 in Big 8 play), the Sooners were invited to play in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, where they tied the Alabama Crimson Tide, 24–24.

Following the season, John Watson was selected in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL Draft, and Steve Casteel was chosen in the 10th.

1st Foreign Parachute Battalion

The 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (French: 1er Bataillon Etranger de Parachutistes, 1er BEP) was a foreign parachute battalion of the French Foreign Legion formed from the Parachute Company of the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment.

1st Foreign Parachute Regiment

The 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (French: 1er Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes, 1er REP) was an airborne regiment of the French Foreign Legion which dated its origins to 1948. The regiment fought in the First Indochina War as the three-time reconstituted 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion, the Suez Crisis and Algerian War, but was dissolved along with the 10th Parachute Division and 25th Parachute Division following the generals' putsch against part of the French government in 1961.

89th Motor Rifle Division

The 89th Motor Rifle Division was a motor rifle division of the Soviet Army, formed twice. The division was first formed in 1957 from the 14th Mechanized Division, which was the former 284th Rifle Division (3rd formation). In 1966, it was reformed as a mobilization division. In 1987, it became a territorial training center and a storage base soon after. It was disbanded in 1996. The unit was based at Tambov.


Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular space in the various connective tissues in the body. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen consists of amino acids wound together to form triple-helices of elongated fibrils. It is mostly found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and skin.

Depending upon the degree of mineralization, collagen tissues may be rigid (bone), compliant (tendon), or have a gradient from rigid to compliant (cartilage). It is also abundant in corneas, blood vessels, the gut, intervertebral discs, and the dentin in teeth. In muscle tissue, it serves as a major component of the endomysium. Collagen constitutes one to two percent of muscle tissue and accounts for 6% of the weight of strong, tendinous, muscles. The fibroblast is the most common cell that creates collagen. Gelatin, which is used in food and industry, is collagen that has been irreversibly hydrolyzed. Collagen has many medical uses in treating complications of the bones and skin.

The name collagen comes from the Greek κόλλα (kólla), meaning "glue", and suffix -γέν, -gen, denoting "producing". This refers to the compound's early use in the process of boiling the skin and tendons of horses and other animals to obtain glue.

Fullback (gridiron football)

A fullback (FB) is a position in the offensive backfield in American and Canadian football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Typically, fullbacks are larger than halfbacks and in most offensive schemes their duties are split between power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the quarterback and the other running back.Many great runners in the history of American football have been fullbacks, including Jim Brown, Marion Motley, Jim Taylor, Franco Harris, Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Christian Okoye, and Levi Jackson. However, many of these runners would retroactively be labeled as halfbacks, due to their position as the primary ball carrier; they were primarily listed as fullbacks due to their size and did not often perform the run-blocking duties expected of modern fullbacks. Examples of players who have excelled at the hybrid running-blocking-pass catching role include Mike Alstott, Daryl Johnston, and Lorenzo Neal.

Halfback (American football)

A halfback (HB) is an offensive position in American football, whose duties involve lining up in the backfield and carrying the ball on most rushing plays, i.e. a running back. When the principal ball carrier lines up deep in the backfield, and especially when that player is placed behind another player (usually a blocking back), as in the I formation, that player is instead referred to as a tailback (see History below).The halfback position is one of the more glamorous positions on the field, and is commonly viewed as a requirement for a team's success. Sometimes the halfback can catch the ball from the backfield on short passing plays as he is an eligible receiver. Occasionally, they line up as additional wide receivers. When not running or catching the ball, the primary responsibility of a halfback is to aid the offensive linemen in blocking, either to protect the quarterback or another player carrying the football.

Jump shift

The jump shift or Heisman shift, was an American football shift maneuver utilized by John Heisman. In this system, only the center was on the line of scrimmage, and the backfield would be in a line, as one would in an I-formation with an extra halfback at the hind end, or a giant T. The players could shift into various formations. In one version, the line shifted so that the center was between guard and tackle, and the three back nearest the line of scrimmage would shift all to one side. A split second elapsed, then the ball was snapped and the wall of three blockers charged on. If needed, the center could also snap it to one of the other backs. The phalanx of blockers resembled the yet-to-be developed single wing. The Heisman shift was considered more complicated than its predecessors (say the Minnesota shift).

Nine-man football

Nine-man football is a type of American football played by high schools that are too small to field teams for the usual 11-man game. In the United States, the Minnesota State High School League, North Dakota High School Activities Association, and South Dakota High School Activities Association hold high-school state tournaments in nine-man football.

The size of the playing field is often smaller in nine-man football than in 11-man. Some states opt for a smaller, 80-yard-long by 40-yard-wide field (which is also used in eight-man and six-man); other states keep the field of play at the standard 100 yards long while reducing the width to 40 yards, some even play on a full-sized playing field (with the 53 1/3 yard-wide field). In games played on 80-yard fields, kickoffs take place from the 20-yard line rather than from the 40-yard line.

A similar nine-man modification of Canadian football is played on the Canadian standard 110-yard field by small schools in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta and for small community associations in British Columbia. It is the standard format of play for eight- and nine-year-olds. The format is similar for five-, six-, and seven-year-old flag football, where the field is reduced to 50 yards by 50 yards.

The rules require that the offense align four players in the backfield and five on the line of scrimmage. A standard I formation has a quarterback, a fullback, a tailback, and five linemen. Usually, the outside linemen are a tight end and a wide receiver, but the alignment varies by formation. The fourth player in the offensive backfield often plays as an additional wide receiver or tight end.

A common defensive formation is the 3-3-2, with three defensive linemen, three linebackers, and two defensive backs with one safety.

The games are frequently high-scoring because the number of players is reduced by more than the size of the field; thus, fast players usually find more open space to run within the field of play.

Some leagues, like the Sunday Football League in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have used nine-man football as a way of furthering their "Passion to Play". They play 16-game seasons and keep full statistics. Their format differs slightly in field size, but formations are similar with the exception of a "lurker" in the deep backfield. Typically, the lurker leads the team in interceptions and spies on the quarterback on deep passes.

In France, most competitions are played nine-man: games and leagues involving 19-year-old players or younger, division 3 (Le Casque d'Argent) and regional leagues. Blocking under the belt is strictly forbidden under nine-man French rules, but the field size remains the same as in standard 11-man American football.

The junior division (under 18s) of every state in Australia also play nine-man football. The game is played on a full-sized field, with modified timing rules (10-min quarters, running clock except the last 2 min of each half).

In Norway, division 1 games are traditional 11-man games, while division 2 games are nine-man football.

Italy, Poland and Argentina also have nine-man leagues.

In Germany, some lower youth classes play in nine-man leagues.

In Israel, the Israel Football League is a nine-man league.

Pistol offense

The pistol offense is an American football formation and strategy developed by Michael Taylor and popularized by Chris Ault in 2005, while the latter was head coach at the University of Nevada, Reno. It is a hybrid of the traditional shotgun and single back offenses. In the pistol offense, also commonly referred to as the "pistol formation", the quarterback lines up four yards behind the center, which is much closer than the seven-yard setback in a traditional shotgun formation. The running back then lines up three yards directly behind the quarterback, which is in contrast to the shotgun, where they are beside each other. It is argued that the position of the quarterback in the pistol formation strikes an advantageous compromise: the quarterback is close enough to the line of scrimmage to be able to read the defense, as with run situation sets such as the I formation, but far enough back to give him extra time and a better vision of the field for passing plays, as in the shotgun. The pistol formation is thus very versatile, particularly if the quarterback himself is a threat to run the ball, which makes it difficult for the defense to correctly anticipate the play. This flexibility is enhanced by the Read Option, where the quarterback reacts to the response of the defensive players to the snap, and makes a rapid decision whether to hand off the ball to the running back, keep it and complete a pass to a downfield receiver, or keep it and run himself.

Pro-style offense

A pro-style offense in American football is any offensive scheme that resembles those predominantly used at the professional level of play in the National Football League (NFL), in contrast to those typically used at the collegiate or high school level. Pro-style offenses are fairly common at top-quality colleges but much less used at the high school level. The term should not be confused with a pro set, which is a specific formation that is used by some offenses at the professional level.

Generally, pro-style offenses are more complex than typical college or high school offenses. They are balanced, requiring offensive lines that are adept at both pass and run blocking, quarterbacks (QBs) with good decision-making abilities, and running backs (RBs) who are capable of running between the tackles. Offenses that fall under the pro-style category include the West Coast offense, the Air Coryell offense, and the Erhardt-Perkins offensive system.

Often, pro style offenses use certain formations much more commonly than the air raid, run and shoot, flexbone, spread, pistol, or option offenses. Pro-style offenses typically use the fullback (FB) and TEs much more commonly than offenses used at the collegiate or high school levels.

Part of the complexity of the offense is that teams at the professional level often employ multiple formations and are willing to use them at any point during an actual game. One example might be that a team uses a Strong I formation run (FB lined up where the TE is located on the line of scrimmage) on 1st Down followed up by a running play out of the Ace formation on second down before attempting a pass on 3rd down out of a two-WR shotgun formation.

Another aspect of the complexity is that the running game is primarily built on zone blocking or involves a power run scheme. Both of these require an offensive of line that is very athletic, one play they could be trying to zone block a Linebacker, and the following one could be power blocking a defensive line. Most of the blocking schemes involve a series of rules, or a system in which they operate their blocks. The passing game as a result often employs play-action, often with the QB dropping back from under center, as a means of passing the ball while building on the running game.

Coaches who make the transition from the NFL to the NCAA as head coaches often bring with them their pro-style offenses. Such examples include Charlie Weis (former HC at Kansas), Dave Wannstedt (former HC at Pittsburgh), Bill O'Brien (former HC at Penn State). One positive aspect of employing a pro-style offense is that it can help players make transitions from the college level to the professional level quicker as a result of their familiarity with the system's complexity.

Pro set

In American football, the pro set or split backs formation is a formation that was commonly used as a "base" set by professional and amateur teams.

The "pro set" formation featured a backfield that deployed two running backs aligned side-by-side instead of one in front of the other as in traditional I-formation sets. It was an outgrowth of the original, three running back T-formation, with the third back (one of the halfbacks) in the T becoming a permanent flanker, now referred to as a wide receiver.

This formation was particularly popular because teams can both run and pass the football out of it with an equal amount of success. This is important because it keeps defenses guessing on what type of play the offense will run. Because the backs are opposite each other, it takes the defense longer to read the gap the offense will run the ball to.Once the run has been established, it can be a very dangerous formation. Because of the real threat of a team running out of the pro-set, defenses must respect the play fake and play run. This pulls the safety to the line and opens up the middle of the field deep. Also, with both backs in position to "pick up" an outside blitz, the pro-set gives a quarterback an abundance of time to find an open receiver.

The set can be run with a single tight end and two receivers or no tight ends and three receivers.

A standard pro set places the backs about 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage, spaced evenly behind the guards or tackles. In this look teams may utilize two halfbacks, or one halfback and one fullback.

A variation of the pro set places the backs offset toward one side (either strong or weak). This look is almost universally used with one fullback one halfback. The backs line up closer to the line of scrimmage than in a standard pro set, about 3 yards deep. The fullback lines up directly behind the quarterback, in the spot he would normally line up in the I-Formation. The halfback then lines up behind either the left or right tackle.

The formation has lost its popularity at the college and professional level recently with the rise of shotgun split back formations. It remains common at the high school Junior Varsity and Varsity level.

At the NFL level, in the mid-to-late 2000s, the formation became used almost exclusively by West Coast Offense-based teams in occasional third down passing situations, and goal-line situations. In the early 2010s, the pro set almost completely disappeared from the NFL, however in the late 2010s it has been used once again as an occasional goal line and passing downs formation by West Coast Offense-based teams.

Robert Zuppke

Robert Carl Zuppke (July 2, 1879 – December 22, 1957) was an American football coach. He served as the head coach at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign from 1913 until 1941, compiling a career college football record of 131–81–12. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951, Zuppke coached his teams to national titles in 1914, 1919, 1923, and 1927. Zuppke's teams also won seven Big Ten Conference championships. While at the University of Illinois, Zuppke was a member of the Alpha-Gamma Chapter of Kappa Sigma. Among the players Zuppke coached at Illinois was Red Grange, the era's most celebrated college football player. The field at the University of Illinois's Memorial Stadium is named Zuppke Field in his honor. Zuppke is credited for many football inventions and traditions, including the huddle and the flea flicker. In 1914, he reintroduced the I formation.Prior to coaching at the University of Illinois, Zuppke coached at Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Michigan and Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois, where he tutored future Pro Football Hall of Famer George Trafton, and Olympic decathlete Harry Goelitz. Zuppke led the team to state championships in 1911 and 1912. He had several coaching influences. He used some plays developed by Pop Warner.Zuppke also was a writer and a fine art painter. From 1930 to 1948, Zuppke wrote the syndicated newspaper strip Ned Brant, drawn by Walt Depew. During the 1930s, Zuppke also wrote syndicated sports-related columns. As a painter, Zuppke was known for his rugged Western landscapes.

Smashmouth offense

In American football, a smashmouth offense is an offensive system that relies on a strong running game, where most of the plays run by the offense are handoffs to the fullback or tailback. It is a more traditional style of offense that often results in a higher time of possession by running the ball heavily. So-called "smash-mouth football" is often run out of the I-formation or wishbone, with tight ends and receivers used as blockers. Though the offense is run-oriented, pass opportunities can develop as defenses play close to the line. Play-action can be very effective for a run-oriented team.

Tom Nugent

Thomas N. Nugent (February 24, 1913 – January 19, 2006) was an American college football coach and innovator, sportscaster, public relations man. He served as the head football coach at the Virginia Military Institute, Florida State University, and the University of Maryland. His career record was 89–80–3. Nugent is credited with the development of the I formation.

Triple option

The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.

The triple option forces defenses to worry about multiple running options on a single play. For the offense, the decision of who is to carry the ball—which option to use—is made during the play by the quarterback (QB). The QB makes the decision whether to give the ball to the fullback (FB) or, based on his read of the defense, to keep the ball. If the QB does choose to keep the ball after the initial snap, he still retains the option of employing a third option; handing the ball off to the tailback. If, for example, the DE is blocking the FB or for any other reason it appears to him that his group of ball- carriers are otherwise limited, he will simply keep the ball himself instead of handing it off. If the DE runs straight upfield or directly at the QB, then the QB gives the ball to the FB. The triple option can be complemented by fixed running plays which look like the triple option when they start, but use traditional blocking, as well as play-action passing.

There are three basic forms of triple option: the wishbone triple option, the veer triple option, and the I formation triple option. These differ in terms of the personnel on the field and their positioning prior to the start of the play.

Offensive strategy
Defensive strategy
Offensive formations
Defensive formations

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