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Inside the Gameplan: Piecing together 2019’s unique offense

Sam Ehlinger (Will Gallagher/IT)
Sam Ehlinger (Will Gallagher/IT)

“I thought, ‘hey, that makes sense.”

That was evidently Bill Snyder’s real time reaction to the wishbone offense when it was unveiled back in 1968. The Austin American Statesman’s Kirk Bohls was asking around about the Wishbone at the 2018 Big 12 media days in preparation of a column about the formation’s 50th anniversary. Snyder was a HS coach in California in 1968 when Darrell K Royal and his OC Emory Bellard unveiled the new offensive formation.

The plays in the Wishbone offense weren’t really unique or groundbreaking at the time, what made it so devastating was the balance. By putting three RBs on the field behind the QB the offense could run the already popular veer-option with a dive, lead block, and pitch player to either side of the formation. There were no tells about which direction the ball was going unless one of the two RBs behind the fullback was a particularly stronger blocker or runner than the other. Texas’ original scheme was extra deadly because the dive player, fullback Steve Worster, was exceptional as was the decision-making trigger-man and QB, James Street.

Texas has two unique features to their 2019 team that could allow them to mimic the devastating impact of the 1968 Wishbone. They can play a balanced formation with a pair of RBs in Keaontay Ingram and Jordan Whittington that can both run, block, and catch. Then they have the toughness of Worster and the quick decision-making savvy of Street rolled into a single player in Sam Ehlinger. Then they also have the forward pass.

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History major, football theorist.