After receiving feedback from my subscribers and followers, which you all know I love so much you guys are awesome motivation! I decided to write a quick guide on How to soundly defend against the wing-T offense. Anybody who has defended a disciplined Wing-T team knows how frustrating it can be. They can seemingly move the ball down field in 3-5 yard chunks at will, even when you have athletes superior to theirs. Its not necessarily the wing-T plays that allow them to do this. It is how they manipulate the flanks, numbers, and angles to get more bodies than you have at the point of attack. What I have here are 6 simple steps to follow that will help you, at the least, be defensively sound. For purposes of this article we will assume that the offense is NOT a triple option team, I will have a separate article for that soon.
STEP 1- Don’t Use An Even Front
I know, I know, all you coaches that live and die by 4-4, 4-3 and 4-2-5 are about to get up in arms, but please hear me out before you close the article. If you run an even front you basically have 3 choices
- Put the DE in a 7, and now your outflanked
- Put the DE in a 9, what ever you do never, ever use a 3 and 9 against any run first team. The C gap is a natural weak spot as it is.
- Use a 3, a 5 and walk the Sam down which forces you to walk out the Mike and now your middle is softened and you have taken away pursuit to the short side as well.
There is a reason offensive guys call TE-wing sets even killers. A knowledgeable wing-T guy will force you into defensive looks you don’t want to be in 6 ways from Sunday. Save yourself the head aches and go to an odd front. I prefer an under front as shown below:
Here you can see we are gap sound, and the offense does not have us outflanked on either side. The odd front allows us to balance up and force the offense to beat us man on man.
STEP 2-Have At Least 5 Guys On Each Side
Wing-T guys will always play the numbers game. You will need at least 5 guys on each side of the formation to be sound. Ill use the previous picture again to demonstrate:
If you put a line down the center of the offense and defense you will see at least 5 on each side. This rule will keep you sound in the numbers game and again force the offense to beat you man on man.
STEP 3-Never Leave The Weak B Gap Empty
You need a down lineman in the weak B gap, PERIOD! If you don’t you will get Belly weak until the cows come home, if you start cheating the belly you get belly option. Simply putting a down guy in B gap forces 2 things to happen.
- The guard and tackle must base block the 3 and the 5 making the angle for the wing back insert extremely difficult.
- The guard and tackle must “X” block the backside giving your edge player ample time to spill.
to defend the weak side trap your 3 tech will squeeze and spill just like an edge player would. If he is getting trapped, find a new 3 tech, or tilt him so he can more effectively squeeze the down block by the guard.
If you get a double wing look, shift into a bear front. This gives you 2 down guys in B gap and 2 guys on the wings to keep from being out flanked. You can see that there are still 5 guys on each side of the ball as well. Here is a photo:
STEP 4-Beat On Up The Wings
The edge players will align head up on the wings. They will step with inside foot and punch the wings while keeping eyes inside. If the wing tries to block him it means 1 of 2 things.
- Buck Sweep
- Jet/Rocket sweep
When that wing tries to block him you will have your guy shove him straight backwards to take out a guard (hopefully the front side guard) on buck sweep, or to shed and pursue the jet/rocket sweep. If the wing releases it’s the Belly G or Belly Option. Either way, he will target the guard’s inside thigh to either create a pile, or a violent enough spill to make a play on the fullback. If the wing goes in motion away, he should be looking for waggle and counter coming back at him.
STEP 5-Eliminate Guard Kickouts
Step 4 touched on this briefly. Wing T guys will do anything they can to get guards on your DBs. Eventually its going to happen, but you can give your DBs the tools necessary to eliminate the guard kickout. Just like the edge player targeted the inside thigh of the guard, the corner will too. Looking for the same results. Be careful however, if you coach in a place where the chop is not allowed you need to make sure that the players are not diving at the legs. They need attack aggressively, then square shoulders to the LOS and use momentum and leverage to step hard inside and put the shoulder pad on the thigh pad. Many times, the defender will remain on his feet while the guard either loses his balance or loses contact with the defender. At the least you can create a nasty pile that the back has to bubble around which allows your defense to rally to the football.
If you have a wing-T team in your district or one you routinely schedule, then practice against wing-T sets at least once a week.
SHOT GUN WING-T
If the offense has a QB…. This is the hardest wing-T set to defend. First it takes you out of your odd look so you can cover the slot up. The QB can read the edge player, or can read the LB for RPOs or just keep it and hit the weak B gap if the LB chases the guard. I would force the offense to run weak based on numbers. I feel with the alignment shown above the offense has no choice but to run it weak. As far as defending the RPO, the OLB is going to beat the snot out of that slot player. That is the most un-officiated part of the field, you will use that to your advantage and do what ever is necessary to prevent that slot from an inside release. Knock him down, grab him do what you have to if you cant run with him. I play a 1 high look because most gun guys will not throw that stop over and over…eventually they all get impatient and try for bomb…now you got them in long sticks, or even better… an interception or sack.
While not a complete answer to anything and everything a wing-T team can or will do, this is a very good set of rules to use when preparing for the offense. As always scout what they do and when they do it, to have the greatest advantages you can. Here is the list of rules again
- No even fronts
- 5 on each side
- Never leave weak B gap empty
- Beat up the wings
- Eliminate guards
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