Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

The "Nasty" Split

The “Nasty” split is a small adjustment that can help your offense move the ball in games you are struggling with a strong defensive end.

I’m not quite sure how the “nasty” split got it’s name or who invented it, but my guess is it was a frustrated defensive coordinator somewhere. He probably called this alignment something far more harsh and the term was toned down to the word “Nasty”, it puts the defense in a real quandry:

The “Nasty” split is nothing more than splitting your tight end out anywhere from 1 feet to 2-3 yards. It forces the defensive end to make a decision, either widen with the tight end to protect against the sweep and an easy down block and take himself away from the off-tackle hole or stay in his regular position, protecting the off-tackle but giving up the sweep. Now you see how the term may have come into existence, it requires the defensive end to”pick his poison”.

It is a very simple adjustment to make for your youth football offense and one I use from time to time to play “games” with a tough defensive end. No matter the decision the defensive end makes he will be wrong, especially with a no huddle offense. If the defensive end widens with your end, run
off-tackle, if he doesn’t widen then pin him in and run the sweep.

When running the “nasty” split, train the tight end to keep widening slightly as long as the defensive end keeps moving with him. Your tight end may be able to take a 1 foot split and turn it into a 5-6 foot split by slowly using this technique. Not only will you now have a much wider off-tackle hole to start with, your tight end now has a very sharp angle to block the defensive tackle and he will have some speed built up when he makes the block. For more ideas on how we run the “nasty” and combine it with our off-tackle adjustments like “tunnel” look in the book starting on page 189.

This effective technique can also be used on the weak side to widen a defensive end that is crashing the backfield, it forces the defensive end to cover more ground and if your left end is a good crab blocker like most of ours, that split does not effect your tight ends ability to cover his inside gap.

This little nuance is simple to add to your Single Wing attack and is effective in youth football with the following football plays: 16 Power, 31 Trap,
Mouse 16 Power, Mouse 47 Sweep, Spinner 47 Sweep and Spinner 26 Power.

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