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10 Ways to Sell the Wing-T

There is no denying the success of the wing-T offense.  It has perforated into all levels and all offensive styles today as described in a previous article (A Legend of the Fall).  However, choosing to run this system in today’s age of flashy spread schemes does come with a few speed bumps that you must overcome.  This is mainly due to stake holders like parents, boosters and players simply not understanding the offense, as all they see on tv is what they want to do.  That’s not just football, that is life in America.  The masses tend to emulate what they see on tv and other media outlets.  But for those of us who know and understand the offense, we know that it is simply the most cost effective and adaptable system available.  Hence, the wide spread use of its concepts from youth leagues to the NFL.  This article will give you 10 easy ways to help sell the wing-T offense to your players, parents and other stakeholders in your program.

  1. The ball is spread to multiple playersWhen run correctly, this is a true spread the ball around offense. At minimum it is a 3 back offense, 4 if you incorporate the QB in the run game!  Due to the deception and ball hiding nature of the offense you don’t need a dominant player at WR, QB or RB, (of course it always helps when you got one lol…) but, you can spread the ball around while faking it to the other players, forcing the defense to spread itself thin to account for multiple ball carriers and to play assignment football or they risk following the wrong player!  As far as who is getting the rock, it is hard to beat the true balance of the wing-T offense.  Use this when selling to your athletes.
  2. History of successHistory is on the side of the T based offenses. Most other offense produce “flash in the pan” success.  They will be good for a year, two years, and then back to obscurity. Especially with spread teams!  If they can’t recruit a DUDE at QB every year… its hard for them to stay consistent. While the teams that run a T based offense are consistently good, regardless of talent levels.  I don’t need to convince you of this, simply think of the successful teams in your state, or district.  Good chance the ones with sustained success are ones basing out of T concepts.  On top of that, its very easy to call plays in the system.  I detail that HERE. Use these things when selling the wing-T to your coaching staff, boosters and AD.
  3. If you can play, they will come“You won’t get recruited by a college in a wing-T offense” what a completely ASININE statement! Yet I have heard it multiple times!  This tends to be a thing repeated by players as why they would transfer…. Lets be real about this… this is from ignorant adults, not kids.  The ranks of college and the NFL are FULL of athletes that played in the wing-T or a derivative.  Hell, you still see the Wing-T in the NCAA and NFL today!  One simply needs to show this to the kids and parents with real statistics to squelch this silly rumor. 9 times out 10 this is told to players and parents by “street gurus” that have an investment in a rival school.  Like most things in life, look at the motives behind what somebody says and the light will shine on their true intentions.  Fact: it does not matter where you play ball at… if you are good enough, the recruiters will come.
  4. VersatilitySomething that I believe is unique to the wing-T offense is its versatility! There are more ways to incorporate wing-T concepts than you could ever do in a season.  Double options, triple options, shot gun, pistol, gun option.  People are even running the wing-T out of 4 wide personnel groupings.  It is truly adaptable to any skill set your players may or may not have!  This is reflective of the wing-T’s pathogen like infection of every offensive system you see today! This is also why you will see sustained success with wing-T teams. Target your coaching staff and AD with this one.
  5. Change NamesSimple word change propaganda goes a LONG way. Case and point:  in the 1980’s the Afghanistan militants were fighting against communist Russia and the USA called them “Freedom Fighters” and even supplied weapons and training.  Fast forward to the 2000’s…. and well, we wont get into all that, but you get the idea.  What I’m saying is… change the terminology to pander to the minds of your athletes!  Call your base wing-T formation “Spread rt” and “Spread lt”!  instead of calling the Fullback a Fullback, call him a B back… or even better, call him a Tailback! Instead of calling the wings, wingbacks… call them Slots!  You know they are wings… but that simple title change goes a long way.
  6. It’s a Team first offenseThis is the ULTIMATE team offense. Your Backfield and WRs will be selfless and block or fake on play they don’t get the ball. Which will help them, when they do get the ball.  Your skill guys know that if they block hard, or fake with conviction, the same will happen for them when they get the ball.  This is self-promoting!  This happens on its own with just some guidance from the coaching staff.  Everybody knows they will get the ball, everybody is involved in the game.  There is no need for that one WR that gets the ball every other play.  It is a true team system, that helps lead to a IDENTITY.
  7. It makes the defense tougher
    1. There is simply no arguing here. This type of offense is down hill and physical with high frequency, further building the team IDENITY. This forces the defense to develop an edge and a hardness that they simply cannot get by lining up in space every snap and playing tackle 7on7. This tends to ruffle feathers when I say this to folks… but facts are facts.  Furthermore, the nature of the offense means you can run the clock and have your “better” athletes play defense!  Your DC will be your new best friend.
  8. It’s DifferentBeing a wing-T offense you will be different. You will be something that, with a good chance nobody else you play is!  This will cause your opponents to have issues defending you.  They will be used to playing against 4 wide and shotgun 20 personnel all season long, and in practice against themselves all preseason and spring.  They will only have week to get ready for your formations and deceptive ground and pound offense.  Your players will also discovery that they are different, than anyone they play against.  This further leads to building an IDENTITY!
  9. Angles and NumbersThe use of angles may be the single biggest advantage of this offense! Your blockers, OL or Skills, will never have to drive a defender backwards, they will always have an angle to their blocks. This allows you to use smaller or less athletic linemen and still be successful.  The entire system is based on taking what the defense is not defending and getting there with as much speed and simplicity as possible.  The formations of the offense allow for extra run gaps to be created while still posing a vertical passing threat.  This creates a natural conundrum for the defense. They can load the box and expose themselves to the Play Action game, they can defend the edges and give up the quick hitting inside game.
  10. IdentityDifferent, hard nosed, team first. This all leads to strong sense of identity for your players.  You will watch your players start to take pride in the fact that they run this offense.  As somebody who has run multiple offensive schemes, I have not seen this happen with other offenses.  This sense of identity is self-feeding into the team first, hard nose nature of the system.  But don’t take my word for it!  Watch this video and then try and tell me these kids (and Coaches!) being interviewed don’t have a strong sense of IDENTITY:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOrwXVlpFfU

Bonus: It’s Fun!  Fun to call plays, fun to watch on film. Fun to coach. And ive NEVER had an offensive lineman that did not LOVE the offense.  OL enjoys the offense…. Nuff Said.

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Using WingT “Same As” Plays in the Spread!

The WingT offense is known for its series method of running plays that all look the same.  Often called “Same As” plays or “Smoke and Mirrors” by WingT aficionados.  This can obviously cause a lot of problems for a defense.  By making two or three plays look exactly the same.  You know you are doing it right when you hear the fans yelling “RUN A DIFFERENT PLAY!” but you have run several different plays in row without a repeat call.  Hopefully the defense thinks its all the same too! What you are doing, is forcing the defense to play assignment football WITHOUT having to run option. This is what creates those second and third level cutbacks that the WingT is famous for.  I am a big proponent of the zone running scheme, especially the Wide Zone from sets using tight ends and multiple backs.  HOWEVER, my roots are WingT and I will always fall back to it in times of need.  Angles win… period.

As far as the Spread Offense goes… I have never really bought into it because I think you gotta have a DUDE at QB to be good at it. That being said, I have run Spread before and think that it has definitely changed the landscape of football forever!  No one can deny the impact the Spread has had on football.  (I think the perimeter screens are the major factor in this btw…)

Recently I have being doing a lot of research into the Spread Offense. Not into schemes or pass routes or formations… but into the ideologies of the Spread and what makes the Spread Guy tick.  I have been researching what philosophical approaches coaches are taking when running the Spread Offense.  What I found made me kinda sit back, but was not surprising when I thought about it in context. Just about EVERY SINGLE ideology of the Spread is an echo of the WingT.  Lets take a look at them:

  • Both want five on five in the tackle box
    • Both use formations to do this
    • Both have plays that will make the defense pay if they don’t do this
  • Both will attack the perimeter ruthlessly
  • Both want to put defenders into conflicts
  • Both want to create numbers advantages on the flanks
  • Both want to create leverage for blockers
  • Both use sequential “If/Then” concepts
  • Both use options as change ups to create big plays
    • Traditional or RPO
  • Both look to influence secondary defenders for “go ahead” scores
  • Both use misdirection frequently

The Spread is like the defiant son of the WingT.  The influence is clearly there, but enough difference to allow him to say “I AM NOT THE SAME”.  But in reality, the two are not that different.  There is however ONE thing that spread seams to be missing.  And that is, the “Smoke and Mirrors”.   The same as plays!  What this article will focus on is incorporating a “Same As” series in a Spread attack.

THE BUCK SERIES

The Spread stuff is coming, I promise!  Before we get into that we need to look at the WingT for a second to show where the concepts come from.  When you here the phrase “Same As” or “Smoke and Mirrors” most coaches familiar with the WingT think about the Buck series first.  This series consists of the Buck Sweep, Trap, and Waggle.  All of which look the same.  For this article we will not cover all the little nuances of Bucky but instead will briefly go over Bucky and Trap to give some perspective.

Bucky

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For the Buck Sweep the whole front side from tackle to wing, will be gap blocking.  That means the blockers are going to take the first man inside of them.  If no man is inside of them, they will go to backer.  This is where the rule “gap down backer” comes from.  The play side guard will “bell pull” to clear any garbage and kick out the first man outside the wing back (TE if no wing). The center will reach play side.  The backside guard will “bell pull” to clear any garbage and then wrap around the wing backs block to pick up the play side linebacker.  The backside tackle will release down field to get the play side third level defender. The backside wing is the ball carrier and goes into high motion and replaces the fullbacks heels to get the ball.

Now here is where the smoke and mirrors happens.  The full back will fake the Trap and run through backside A gap replacing the centers back leg and run down the field like he has the ball.  As soon as the defense is not checking the fullback, now you can go to Trap!

Trap

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The Trap, or Influence Trap as some call it is designed to make the defense pay for over playing the Buck Sweep. This works because both guards are pulling still, and the wing now fakes the Buck Sweep!  Here are the differences.  Both Tackles now have nearest LB. the play side wing will have safety and the center will now block back to replace where the full back was going on Buck Sweep. The play side three tech that has been fighting across face all game now sees the guard pull as steps outside to fight the gap block, he thinks is coming and widens the lane for the ball carrier.

The key for both plays is that anyone not getting ball pretends with conviction that they do have it! This means on Bucky the fullback sells the fake and on Trap, the wing back does.  The QB will be faking waggle pass on both.

“SAME AS” IN THE SPREAD

For the spread variant of this, we will be focusing on Counter and Trap.  I have two reasons for choosing counter as the first play in the series:

  1. While if you are under center, I feel you cannot use the counter as a “hang your hat” play, I feel that it is different for the spread. Counter is one of the few plays that I feel hits faster from the gun, then it does from under center.
  2. Gap is Gap is Gap. Gap scheme is easier to teach, and angles make easier blocks.  You can run multiple Gap Schemes and Gap is still Gap.

Counter

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On the counter the front side blockers from Tackle to center have gap.  They will block the first man inside of them to backer if nobody is inside of them.  The caveat is that the center must gap all the way to B gap!  This is important in case there is a backside three tech.  The backside guard will pull down the line replacing the gapping front side blockers and kick out he first man on the line of scrimmage. The backside tackle will pull slightly deeper than the guard and wrap up inside of his kick out to pickup the play side linebacker.  He pulls on a deeper path just in case the guard gets wrong armed by the DE. This will allow him to wrap around the guard if he gets spilled.  The play side three tech is typically going to be gapped by the tackle.  But if he is a War Daddy, I would suggest doubling him to the backside backer.

Handling the backside defensive end can be done in several ways. You can read him, you can put the back on the opposite side and have the back block the end while the QB keeps it, you can base him with an H, or you can base him with the tackle and have an H be the wrapper. The good thing about basing the DE is, now you can tag in some RPOs if that’s your thing.

Obviously there are a million ways to dress up the counter!  You have motions and inverted reads.  You can block counter one way and run jet sweep the opposite way. Can pair it with quick screens and options.  As long as nothing changes for the OL… your good to go.

Trap

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Now for the “Same As”.  With the Trap you have a play that looks just like Counter, but will hit in the I gap instead of the B/C gap. For the trap the center will still block back to replace the puller.  the play side tackle will block the nearest linebacker and the play side guard will block the backside linebacker. Now, because the Trap does not hit near as fast from the gun as under center, you must account for the backside defensive end.  You can do this in the same manners as you do on counter, including reading the DE.

Tackle Trap

If you really want to sell the counter you can block the trap like this:

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The play side guard will by pass the three tech to the defensive end to influence him wide and the tackle will now be trapping the three tech!  You can also do the same thing with an H back.

CLOSING

Many offenses can benefit by using the ideologies of the WingT. The spread already uses so many.  By adding in some “Same As”, you can keep the defense guessing make them think you are running the same play over and over, when in fact… you are running different plays entirely! When you add in the reads and RPOs that go with the spread, you can really keep the defense on its heals, and your ball carriers in the end zone!  Make sure to subscribe to my emailer list so you can be updated anytime a new article posts! Follow me on twitter here: @TheCoachVogt and be sure to check out the NEW STORE for Books, Apparel and Merchandise!