Wildcat formation describes a formation for the offense in football in which the ball is snapped not to the quarterback but directly to a player of another position lined up at the quarterback position. In most i formation football playbook pdf, this is a running back, but some playbooks have the wide receiver, fullback, or tight end taking the snap.
The Wildcat features an unbalanced offensive line and looks to the defense like a sweep behind zone blocking. A player moves across the formation prior to the snap. However, once this player crosses the position of the running back who will receive the snap, the play develops unlike the sweep. The Wildcat is a gambit rather than an overall offensive philosophy.
It can be a part of many offenses. For example, a spread-option offense might use the Wildcat formation to keep the defense guessing, or a West Coast offense may use the power-I formation to threaten a powerful run attack. The Wildcat scheme is a derivation of Pop Warner’s Single Wing offense which dates back to the 1920s. The Wildcat was invented by Billy Ford and Ryan Wilson, and was originally called the “Dual” formation.
The offensive coaching staff of the Kansas State Wildcats, namely including Bill Snyder and Del Miller, made significant contributions to the formation’s development throughout the 1990s and 2000s and is often cited as being the formation’s namesake. It has been used since the late 1990s at every level of the game, including the CFL, NFL, NCAA, NAIA, and many high schools across North America. Specific coaching staffs have used it with various innovations and have given their versions a variety of names. The Wildcat was reinvented by Steve Spurrier in 2005 against the Kentucky Wildcats to utilize Syvelle Newton in all offensive positions on the field.
One possible precursor to the wildcat formation was named the “wing-T”, and is widely credited to being first implemented by Coach Tubby Raymond and Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens football team. Tubby Raymond later wrote a book on the innovative formation. The wildcat’s similarity to the wing-T is the focus on series football, where the initial movements of every play look similar. For example, the wing-T makes use of motion across the formation as well in order to draw a reaction from the defense, but runs several different plays from the same look.
Another possible precursor to the wildcat is the offense of Six-Man Football, a form of high school football, played mostly in rural West Texas and Montana, that was developed in 1934. In six-man, the person who receives the snap may not run the ball past the line of scrimmage. To bypass this limitation, teams often snap the ball to a receiver, who then tosses the ball to the potential passer. The passer may then throw the ball to a receiver or run with the ball himself.