A common formation in professional and college football that features a backfield containing two running backs split behind the quarterback’s position.
This formation, also known as the “pro set” or “split backs formation” departs from the traditional I-formation, which normally has a single back lined up directly behind the quarterback, instead featuring two running backs, usually a halfback and fullback.
The pro set is the base formation used in most pro-style offenses. Plays called from this formation usually intended to establish a run game, which then opens up the field for pass plays. The mixture of run and pass allows for teams to run, pass fakes and play action based on the success of running plays. Because backs are lined up on either side of the quarterback, the defense has a harder time determining which gap to attack to counter the offense.
The pro formation gained popularity around the same time as the rise of the West Coast offense, adding versatility in the passing game while still maintain the ability to initiate power runs. With the rising popularity of spread and other pass-heavy formations in both professional and college football, the pro set has a lot a good deal of its popularity, but is still used by teams with strong run game offenses.