Scheme

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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MATCH QUARTERS from the UNDER FRONT

Match Quarters has become highly prevalent in defensive football world over the past decade.  And for good reason! It works!  It is an outstanding way to combat the ever increasing number of spread offenses you will see from week to week.  2read, MQ, quarters read, match quarters, whatever you want to call it, the principals remain the same.  This article will focus on running the concept from an under front. Specifically, a 3-4 under which I simply call “Shade”.

BASE PHILOSOPHY of “SHADE”

We will stop the run! First and foremost. We will not allow people to move the ball by running it, we will make necessary adjustments to ensure this from week to week.  Basing out of the shade will give multiple looks to the offense and allow us to easily incorporate stunts and pressures when warranted.

I call it shade because it tells the front they will be shading the OL instead of aligning head up. (heads) While in shade, the strength will always be called to the passing strength.  the only rule breaker to this is if you get a TE and wing on the same side, then the strength MUST go to the TE/wing combo.

Our secondary will play a base coverage called “Palms” (same as rest of America). In this we can align to any formation and still be sound vs the run and the pass.  Every day as a team, we will tackle, and we will run “block destruction” drills.

GOOD ENOUGH for BELICHICK, GOOD ENOUGH for ME

Run Defense

  • Set the edge, turn the ball back inside to pursuit
  • Attack at correct angles
  • NEVER GIVE UP CONTAIN
  • Force Player will force ball inside then shed block and make play
    • Push back the LOS
  • Must teach players to defeat blocks
  • If QB can run, somebody MUST BE A 2 GAP PLAYER
  • Backside set edge for reverse, boot, counter and cutbacks
  • Every week emphasize setting the edge
  • Run through tackles, never leave feet

Pass Defense

  • Collapse pocket to get to QB
  • Push up middle, don’t want QB stepping up
  • A rusher deeper than the QB is the worst position in football to be in
  • A good pass rush helps the coverage more than 4 all stars in the secondary will

ALIGNMENT

  • Weak Tackle/End aligns 4i and steps hard inside eyes on guard
  • Strong Tackl/End aligns 5tech and plays squeeze
  • Nose aligns playside shade on the center
  • Sting will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE or 5 tech depending on the call
  • Ram will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE

Here is a look at the shade alignment vs some common offensive sets:

img_1161img_1162

PALMS OVERVIEW

Quarters Read. Corners and safeties read number the number 2 receiver.  To a TE the safety becomes run support.  Corners Toes at 6 yards with inside leverage, his read steps are backpedal weave.  Safeties toes at 9 to 12 yards.  Safeties are a PASS FIRST defender and backpedal on the snap.

  • Corner and safety will read number 2 to their side.
  • To 3 x1 the read man remains number 2 in slide and moves to number 3 in roger/lucy. This is a concept called “mini” we will save this for another article.  The easiest adjustment to 3×1 is to simply slide into cover 3 with your secondary.
  • To a single receiver side with no 3×1 alert, the corner and safety will default to cover 2.

RULES FOR PALMS

The rules for Palms Coverage are relatively simply in concept.  The number 2 receiver can only do 1 of 4 different things.

  • Number 2 goes out
    • Corner takes number 2 and safety plays over the top
  • Number 2 goes in
    • Both safety and corner back pedal into quarters
      • Safeties eyes go to QB and he is going to end up robbing any deep middle route by the opposite number 2
    • Number 2 goes vertical
      • Both safety and corner back pedal into quarters
    • Number 2 blocks/cracks
      • Corner will spike inside for run support
      • Safety gets over top in case of bubble/go or play action, then rallies for run support. He still PASS FIRST

Here is a look at Palms vs some common 2×1 and 2×2 route combinations:

img_1163img_1164

depending on the scout that week will determine when the corner comes off.  To be safe… tell them “when in doubt, stay deep!”

CLOSING

Like most things, people tend to over complicate it.  Pattern match coverages are no different.  It really is that simple.  Repetition is key.  Once your players are confident in what they are doing.. they can play fast.  When they can play fast, good things happen!  Stay tuned for an article on the “MINI” coverage mentioned previously! Be sure join the email list so you can be updated anytime an article posts!  Follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt

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BUILDING AN AERIAL ATTACK AROUND THE WIDE ZONE: Guest Post by Chad Weeks

About Coach Weeks.

Coach Chad Weeks is the Offensive Coordinator at Mosley High School in Lynn Haven FL. I first met Coach Weeks via twitter and we started having in depth discussions about the Wide Zone.  Very quickly he showed a strong aptitude for understanding football schemes as a whole.  Operating predominately out of 12 personnel, in two years time his offense would become what may be the best High School Wide Zone team I have ever seen.  Below is a guest post about building an effective play action attack in conjunction with the Wide Zone!

BUILDING AN AERIAL ATTACK AROUND THE WIDE ZONE

wzpic

INTRODUCTION

2 years ago, I came across some tweets by Coach Vogt talking about the “most consistent play in football”. Immediately I was drawn to the consistency of the play and was sold by Alex Gibbs’ proclamation of no-negatives. In the time since, I have built my offensive philosophy around Wide Zone and the mantra that Gibbs preaches in his clinic talks…if you are gonna run it, you better be willing to commit to it and cut out the rest of the fluff that seems to fill all of our playbooks at one point or another.

This article will not be covering the in’s and out’s of Wide Zone. This has been done in great detail in Coach Vogt’s eBook Installing The Wide Zone which is one of the finest manuals for running a football play I’ve ever read. This book is a complete guide to installing, applying and running the Wide Zone play. The book covers the philosophical applications, coaching points, drills and briefly looks at the many change ups that can be added.

Instead, I will focus on the pieces that go around the base play. The “answers” if you will, to the many different challenges defenses will deploy once they make the decision to take away the Wide Zone. This be done in 2 parts. Part 1 will discuss the keeper off of Wide Zone and part 2 will discuss the play action passing game off of the Wide Zone. 

PART 1 – THE KEEPER

The keeper goes by many names…keeper, naked, boot…it doesn’t matter what you call it, but a Wide Zone team had better have it and had better be good at it. The secret to it is in the acting and the mechanics involved. The best QB mechanics I’ve come across to date come from the National Football Academies Self Correct System DVDs. They utilize the Set, Show, Snap, Sell moniker to describe the mechanics and I have found it to be very effective. The video below shows the keeper mechanics for Tight Zone, when adjusting for Wide Zone Keeper, the QB and RB would simply need to widen the track and landmarks.

The second part of the acting is the offensive line. The biggest mistake that I hear from other coaches on this is to simply tell the OL to “block the play”. This is one of the many gross oversimplifications coaches use that do not respect the details of making the play successful; much like a barber being told “just a razor fade”, without any respect for the skill and precision required to obtain the perfection at such a difficult haircut.

For the keeper to truly effective the OL must get the linebackers to displace themselves by selling the run. To make this happen they must come off the ball fast and flat down the line of scrimmage, literally running horizontally picking up anything that crosses their path.

A crucial part of this play is the “slam” block (or whatever you want to call it, it honestly doesn’t matter) by the TE/H. The player must come off the ball flat and fast to protect the QB from a free shot. In the video below you can see what happens when he gets beat inside…which then causes the QB to be rushed into a bad throw.

There will come a time that you may come across a DE that is so well coached that he will not bite, no matter how much Wide Zone you show him. In this case you can either abandon the keeper (not the wise decision), or you can tag the blocking scheme to deal with him by pulling a guard. The illusion you are showing the linebackers is somewhat affected but the result is that you don’t let one defender take away a significant compliment to a base play of the offense.

boot

The next piece to think about is the route combination part of the keeper. This can become convoluted very quickly. We as coaches tend to make things more difficult than they should be. This page from the 2013 Auburn playbook says it all:

nakedrules

BASE NAKED RULES: To the side we are running the naked back to, we always have a receiver in the flats (1), a receiver climbing at 10 – 12 yards (2), a Deep 20 yard comeback* to the sidelines (3) and a backside home run post (4). The way we get people in these spots may vary, but we will almost always have 4 players at these different landmarks on the field.

*For high school adaptation I would adjust the comeback to 15 yards if the QB didn’t have the arm for the deeper throw.

Keeper 1

keeper2

The location of where these routes originate can vary, and there can of course be substitutions for the routes they use, but the general idea is that you want receivers in those locations at all times on keepers so that the QB knows instinctively where to go. Often times he is going to be under pursuit and will inevitably have to make a throw under duress, so it is crucial for him to know where his people will be without having to think.

PART 2 – THE SOLID PASS 

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Any play caller worth their salt knows that there comes a time when one must drop the hammer on the defense. The good ones know are able to find those moments and also dial up the right play to make it happen. In this article I will discuss the different play actions that compliment Wide Zone as a base play. Some are deep shots, some are simple constraints to instill hesitation in the defense.

PROTECTION

As all good play do, this starts up front. Our Wide Zone play action protection is a simple one. We take exactly the same tracks and steps as we would on Wide Zone for 3 steps. After that we begin retreating and sorting out the defenders as they come to us. The only person who this changes for is the person blocking the backside end. This can be the backside TE or a H-Back slicing across the formation, this person’s goal in life on this play is to not let the QB get hit in the back.

WZ PA Protection

WZ PA Protection with Slice

ROUTES

The routes we use for play action have a High-Low progression with someone running a deep route, an intermediate route, and a flat route . We call these plays because we want to take a shot, but things do not always go the way we planned them and the QB needs to have options if things don’t work out.

Up Rt Purple 38 Z-BlazeUp Rt X-Cross

CLOSING

Coach Vogt talking here:  This is about as good as a guide you can get for the play action game off the Wide Zone!  It is very apparent that Coach Weeks is very sharp and knows is stuff.  Incorporating these concepts into your offensive attack is a must! That goes if you are a Wide Zone team, and Inside Zone team or a gap scheme team.  You must make safeties pay for getting nosy, and you must keep DC’s out of the box by stretching the field vertically for touchdown strikes and explosive plays.  Lets face it, every weekend defensive staffs meet and they say two things: 1) we gotta stop the run, and 2) we cant get beat deep.  Adding these concepts to your attack will allow you to exploit the two biggest fears defensive coaches have!  Be sure to subscribe to the email list so you can be updated any time a new article posts! You can follow me on twitter here at @TheCoachVogt and you can follow Coach Weeks on twitter here at @weekschad 

10 More Signs, You Might Be a Football Coach!

As a follow up to “10 Signs You Might Be a Football Coach” here are 10 more signs, you might be a football coach!

You might be a football coach if…..

  1. You STILL can’t get rid of those little rubber beads, you might be a football coach!
  2. You get more texts and calls in one weekend during the season than all weekdays combined; you might be a football coach!
  3. If you have taken multiple rides on a yellow bus where you can’t shake the feeling you forgot something, you might be a football coach!
  4. You would be rich if you had $1 every time you heard “I got my guy” on the sideline, you might be a football coach!
  5. You finally get the HC to call that play you’ve been asking for all game and it works: walkyou might be a football coach!
  6. You finally get the HC to call that play and it fails miserably: hideyou might be a football coach!
  7. If you get a new job and you have to eliminate more than half your wardrobe, you might be a football coach!
  8. If you’ve felt the chill in the air when a Wing-T guy and Spread guy enter the same room, you might be a football coach!
  9. When you talk about your plan for Friday with your significant other, she looks at you like your speaking a foreign language, you might be a football coach!
  10. You know what IV, ML, OV, IZ, WZ, RPO, LOS, EMOLS, PK, PAP, all mean, you might be a football coach!

BONUS: You know that feeling when a player comes to tell you that he got a scholarship offer, you might be a football coach!

2 Things Needed for Success in Coaching Football

Football is undoubtedly the greatest team sport on the planet! As we always preach to new coaches and to our players, it takes every single individual involved in the program to make it successful. From the equipment managers, parents, boosters to the starting QB and the Head Coach.  It takes everybody working together.  It is part of makes this such a great job.  The community that is built around a good football program is something that cannot be replicated in other sports or even other professions.  It is part of the reason we get into this profession. Along with the love of game and the desire to make a difference in the lives of young men.  However, if we want to have longevity in this profession, there several things that you need to be able to do, and traits that you should have.  This article will focus on two of them that I think are vitally important to a long career in this great field of work.  First, is the ability and desire to acquire new knowledge.  Second, is adaptability.

The Ability and Desire to Acquire New Knowledge

This is something that is a good quality to have with any venture in life. You must have the ability to go out and learn as much as possible, as often as possible.  But having the ability is not enough by itself.  You need to have the desire to as well.  Professional development is an ongoing thing.  It never ceases.  It would be highly beneficial for you to go out and learn as much as you can, about as many different systems as you can, both offensively and defensively. Become proficient in many different philosophies. This can help you understand your opponents as well as give you something to use when the time comes.

Remember, nobody has all the answers.  As soon as you get complacent. As soon as you think you know it all.  As soon as you think you’ve learned everything there is to know… that’s when you get beat.  THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY SMARTER.  In one regard or another, there is going to be somebody that knows more than you about something eventually.  Don’t get beat because you got lazy in your own continued education of the sport.  Do your best to mitigate and minimize all chances of not having an answer by always striving to acquire and apply new information, which leads us right into our next trait.

Adaptability

You must have the ability to adapt.  What I mean by that is, you must be able to adapt the program to fit your talent levels. If you have a bunch of tall, lanky and thin bodies for your skill players, lining up and running the isolation 20 times a game might not be the best idea you’ve ever had…  but if that’s all you know, or worse, all you’ve cared to know, you won’t be able to adapt and experience success.  On the other side of that, if you have a bunch of undersized lineman, asking them to zone block and man block in a spread set where they have no edge help… that can be a disaster too.  So, you need to understand a wide range of systems so you can always put your kids in a situation to experience success and build confidence.  Same goes for the defensive side of the ball.  If you have a bunch of DB and LB type bodies on the field, forcing them into a 4 man front isn’t going to help you much.  Play to the strengths of your players.

Now, it is important that you understand that I AM NOT saying that you shouldn’t have a core set of principles that you believe in.  EVERYBODY should and in fact, needs to have that.  You need to have that one system that you believe in.  Having the ability to adapt within the system is even better.  But whatever the system, be it single wing or air raid or triple option, you need to have your “bread and butter”  I’ll use myself as an example.  It is my philosophy that I will always start off with basing out of the wingT.  My number one reason for this, the wingT’s naturally ability to adapt to all different talent levels.  From youth leagues to big leagues.  It uses angles and numbers to make blocking easier.  It gets your backs to the edge effectively regardless of talent level.  It uses 3 backs so you can use smoke and mirrors, ball fakes, and spread the ball around.  It provides success for teams that have little talent, but is great for teams that have a plethora of talent.  You see it in the NFL still, and clearly there is no lack of talent there.  So that is why I base my offense from those principles… but that doesn’t mean I will refuse to get into single back or shot gun to run zone and throw the ball if that’s what it will take to win.  I make it a point to understand as many systems as possible as many of you do as well.

Closing

Learning and Adaptability.  Is it the only two things you need? Of course not, but they can dang sure help you be a more successful coach!  Let me know in the comments or on twitter what are some things that you think are mandatory for long term success??? Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and please subscribe with your email so you can be notified anytime a new article drops!   Speaking of learning new things, here are some opportunities to do just that with some informational material written by yours truly.

The Speed-T Offense V2”  “Installing the Wide Zone”  and  “Practical Fitness

Till next time,

Coach Vogt.

Utilizing the Rocket Toss

For some Wing-T teams (as well as some Spread-T teams), when it comes to attacking the edge the Rocket Toss is going to a better option than the Speed Sweep or the Buck Sweep.  Rocket will be better for teams that are undersized up front, play against defensive ends that are of a high caliber and for teams that will never get into any type of zone blocking.  Why is this so?  Well, in the Buck Sweep, the ball carrier is going to get the ball after a short high motion, after the QB has faked to the fullback.  He then will stretch the edge and must rely on the down block of a wing back on a defensive end.  As far as plays go for the Wing-T, it is rather slow hitting.  Not to mention all the moving parts like having two pulling guards on linebackers in space.  For Speed Sweep, the ball carrier is going to receive the football directly behind the center, and be on the edge in a few steps.  This is great for creating a stretch of the defense and opening up creases to cut up inside of.  With the Rocket Toss, the ball carrier is going to get the ball in full stride behind the play side wing back, that means there is no need to block any down lineman inside of your offensive tackle! When the ball carrier gets the ball, he is already on the edge, the only other play in football that can rival the way Rocket stretches the entire field is going to be the bubble pass.  The defense must defend the entire width of the field with rocket toss.  Best of all, the rocket motion matches up with belly, trap, counter, sally, the option series and all the play action passes!

Here is a look at some examples of the Rocket Toss in action:

While you can run the Speed Sweep and the Rocket in the same offense, it will be more beneficial to choose just one, and marry it.  So, that said, why would we choose to base the offense off the Rocket Toss in place of Speed Sweep or Buck Sweep?

  1. Undersized Offensive Line – The nature of the play means we can eliminate the need for blocking any down lineman inside of the tackle. In fact, offensive tackles will not have to block a five tech in the traditional sense either.  He will be racing the defensive lineman to the sideline and looking to turn up inside (we will detail this later). This means that we do not need to control bigger and more athletic defensive lineman, and we can use our smaller size to our advantage. It also takes the most common defensive technique (squeeze and scrape) and turns it into something that will hurt the defense!
  2. The Defense has to Cheat – you will find that in order for the defense to protect the flank, somebody is going to have to cheat. A DL will have to fly out on the snap, a linebacker will have to vacate the box or a safety will need to come flying down field.  All of these things open up other aspects of the offense allowing you to call the appropriate response.
  3. Stretches the Entire Field – there is only one other play that can stretch the entire field like the Rocket Toss does. This makes it extremely easy to identify which defenders are responsible for run support and contain.
  4. Extremely Easy to Teach – For the most part, the entire offense has just one rule, “Rip and Run”. This is a very easy technique to teach and only requires desire by the blockers.  They are going to “race” the defender to the sideline and rip up field once they get their hat on the play side number.

Rules for Rocket Toss

X: The wide receivers to the play side are going to be responsible for blocking the corner backs.  They will close the distance between themselves and the corner as quickly as possible.  Just before reaching the corner they will break down and “chatter” their feet so they can engage the corner without losing him in space.  This does not have to be a devastating block.  The blocker just needs to get on the corner and take him where he wants to go.  Once the defender picks a side, the receiver will drive his feet, forcing him on his path. If the wide receiver is on the backside of the play he will take a path to crack the safety, which will set up a downfield block for any possible cutbacks made by the ball carrier.

Y: Your Tight End will have the same rules and techniques as the wide receiver if he is split out.  If your Y is on the line, then he will use the same techniques as the play side tackle, or the backside offensive linemen, in accordance with the direction of the play call in relation to his alignment.

Blocking Wing:  The blocking wing is the wingback on the play side of the formation.  He is responsible for getting his head outside of the first man outside of him.  He does not worry about anything inside of him.  If there is no defender outside of him, he will take a path to the safety.  If the play side linebacker crosses his trajectory while on his path, he will take him. (never pass up color)

Rocket Wing: The rocket wing is going to be your ball carrier.  On the “set” in the QB’s cadence, the wing will start his motion.  He will open and step directly at the fullbacks heels.  By the time the wing gets to the fullback he needs to be running at full speed.  The wing back CANNOT get any deeper than the fullbacks heels.  Once at his heels he needs to flatten his path out to be parallel with the line of scrimmage and running full speed. He should receive the ball when he is behind the play side wingback.  Once he has the football he will be racing to the edge and looking at the block of the wide receiver.  If the wide receiver turns the DB out, he will cut up the field and north.  If the DB is being pushed inside by the wide receiver, he will then get to the sideline outside of the defense.

Fullback:  The fullback will align with his heels at four yards behind the ball.  On the snap, we will block the backside defensive end.  It’s not that the backside end has a chance at the play, but rather it will set up the sally draw, the play action drop back and the keeper after the toss fake.  Also, due to the fact that you will be running belly a lot, teams may key the fullback, the fullback going backside may hold some of the pursuit on the toss.

QB: The quarterback will snap the ball when the rocket wing is directly behind the fullback.  If he snaps it too early, the wing back will not get the ball far enough out on the edge, so make sure the QB is patient and doesn’t snap the ball until the appropriate time.  Once the ball is snapped, he will take a half step back with his play side foot and then pivot hard to reverse out for the toss.  After he reverses out, he will step with his pivot foot directly at the wing back receiving the toss.  It is imperative that he QB keeps his arms strait and the hands never come higher than the waist.  If his elbows bend or his hands go higher than his waist the ball will go over the wing backs head, so keep on him about this and keep him disciplined.

Playside Tackle: The Play side tackle is going to do everything he can to get outside of the defensive end.  This is a “race” to the outside.his first step is going to be a lateral step that will open his shoulders and gain considerable ground.  Once the tackle has taken his third step he is going to try and rip up field with his inside arm.  This is a violent rip, he is trying to turn his shoulders back up field so he can block any scraping linebackers.  If the tackle cannot clear the defense end, he is going to lean into his rip and continue to race him outside.  If the tackle clears the defensive end, he is going to turn up field with his shoulders while still sprinting and looking inside with his eyes for scraping linebackers.

Playside Guard: You have two options that you can use for your play side guard.  First, you could give him the same rule as the play side tackle.  This could be better for a guard that cannot run that well.  If your guard can run, even just a little, I highly recommend pulling him to get an extra body at the point of attack.  The guard’s first step will open and gain ground and depth.  He will then be on a full sprint to get outside of the tackle.  Even though the tackle is “racing” to the sideline as well, you will find that the guard has little problem getting outside.  Once outside the guard will turn and sprint up field with his eyes inside looking for any defender in pursuit that is unblocked.

Center and Backside OL: The center and the backside offensive linemen have one rule, “Scoop”.  Scoop means that they will try and cut off any backside DL.  If there is a DL in the gap to the play side the OL will take a flat step down line and rip across the face of the defender.  The OL must lower his level to do this.  The OL’s entire body will have to turn to accomplish this.  The second step will also be gaining lateral ground but can also gain up field ground as well.  If the OL rips through clean, we will climb all the way up to the safety! If the rip is “dirty” meaning the DL is engaging him he will fight to rip clean and go to safety.  If the play side gap is empty, the backside lineman can go straight to the safety!  Take a path to cut off the safety. Coaching Point: Get to the safety by running full speed, but slow down once you get there, he is a DB, you’re an OL, don’t let him shake you in space.  Use the phrase, “8, 8ths to 7, 8ths” to illustrate the throttling down.

Rocket vs Odd and Even Fronts

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Against both the even and the odd fronts, the outside linebackers are going to be the key blocks.  If they are flying outside you should be able to cut up inside of him as the wing back washes him out.  If he is problematic for you, you can slow him down by getting into a nasty set, and cracking him.  We will cover this in the next section on change ups!

Change Ups

There are to very easy change ups to the rocket toss that are simple and effective in their implementation. For one the wide receiver will crack the safety, and the other, the wide receiver will crack the outside linebacker.

(Crack)

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Crack is the first change up.  The WR cracks the safety and the wing kicks the corner. All other players remain the same for the play.  This is a great play against aggressive safeties.

(Nasty)

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If you need to slow down some outside linebackers, getting into a formation with a nasty tag is a great way to do that.  The formation above is “Open Nasty”.  Any time you have toss called in a nasty set, the wide receiver knows that it is an automatic crack on the first linebacker inside of him.  This will set an edge and also make pursuit difficult for anybody inside of the crack block.

CLOSING

You should use the Rocket Toss in same manner as you would the Speed Sweep.  Stress the edge until the inside run game opens up.  Rocket pairs up nicely with all the base Wing-T and Flexbone plays!  Its biggest advantage may be the ease at which it can be installed. If you would like to know more about the Rocket Toss and other aspects of the Wing-T, then follow this link to “The Speed-T Offense: Vol 2” to learn everything that you need to know to run it effectively.  Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you can be updated anytime a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt.

Offensive Line Technique for Wide Zone

The one question that I get asked the most when it comes to running the Wide Zone is without a doubt concerning the footwork and techniques used by the offensive linemen.  This makes a lot of sense, because if you cannot cover your basis up front, then it will not matter what you run as an offense scheme.  In this article we will cover the techniques used by the covered and uncovered linemen for the Wide Zone.

Covered Footwork and Technique

The steps and hand placement of the covered lineman to the play side will depend on the alignment of the defensive player, and whether or not the covered OL has help coming.  The 1st step must be lateral.  He cannot step up field or he will lose the fight. The width of that step is directly proportional to the alignment of the DL.  Tell that OL that he needs to take the step necessary to get his hat across the face of the defender.  We want the shoulders to stay as square as possible but understand that a wide alignment of the DL (like a widened 5 tech) will cause the blocker to naturally open his shoulders some to accommodate getting his head across, this also will prevent him from becoming over extended. A head up alignment might be a 2 to 4 inch step, while an outside shade might be 6 to 8 inches worth of step.

Regardless of how small the step we always need to GAIN GROUND! Ground needs to be covered.  Always be vocal about this, they need to hear you say it all the time. Picking the foot up and putting it back down, or worse bringing it backwards will result in the OL being beat by the DL in almost every occasion, no matter what scheme you are running.  On that 1st step the OL will also load his hands.  Loading the hands means the OL will pull his elbows back with his thumbs turned out.  Having the thumbs turned out forces the elbows in tight where we want them.  Remember this 1st step CANNOT be up field.

While the 1st step provides leverage and get off, the 2nd steps provides hat and hand placement and the lateral drive of the block.  The 2nd step is a hard, aggressive up field step that will split the crotch of the defender.  It needs to be violent, and right in between the legs of the DL. I use the coaching cue of “knee him the balls!”  They need to understand that the ferocity of this step is paramount to it being successful.  The 2nd step is when contact with the defender is made.  The hat and hands will strike at the same time.  The hat goes to the outside shoulder of the defender. The hands will now deliver a violent punch (thumbs out).  We do not extend this punch, we want to stay tight to the defender. The play side hand will strike the play side armpit and the backside hand strikes under the breast plate like an upper cut to the sternum and the OL will work the outside half of the defender.

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The 3rd step will again gain ground and work towards the outside half of the defender.  The hat of the OL is to remain on the outside half of the defender, HOWEVER!  Here is a big misconception of the wide zone.  We are not trying to reach the defensive lineman and capture his outside shoulder.  We put our hat on the outside to get the lineman to fight outside and help us create lateral movement. By the time the OL takes his 3rd step the DL will either have committed outside or have been pushed outside by the OL that is doubling.  Once the DL has been forced or has committed outside the OL will straighten out his backside hand and RUN as fast as he can and take the DL on his path.  He needs to keep the back hand locked to prevent the DL from trying to throw him by when the RB makes his cut. Coaching Points: the DL belongs to the covered man unless he makes an inside move on the snap.  It is the job of the combination to force him outside so the covered OL can take him on his path. By the 3rd step the OL should be running the DL towards the sideline. 

If the covered OL does not have help coming from the OL inside of him (meaning the adjacent OL is also covered) then the technique changes slightly.  The hat, hands and footwork remain the same.  We still want hat outside, but now it becomes more of a drive block down the middle of the defender, with the back hand in the backside armpit instead up in the sternum (thumbs still turned out).  This will take away from some of the lateral get off and movement, but we must protect against an inside move by the defender (see below).  Taking the outside half can put the OT in a situation to fail, so we line him up down the middle once contact is made.

(pic below is bad juju….  use the technique described above to eliminate this.)

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Every single day you need to start practice with a drill called Stance and Starts.  This can be your 1st drill in individual period, but I prefer to do it as a pre-practice drill.  The Drill reinforces foot, hat and hand placement and once taught, the drill should be done rapid fire, as quickly as possible.  Start off by having all the OL line up on the goal line and get into a proper stance: Feet set at shoulder width or just inside the shoulders, toes pointed in, flat backs eyes up.  Balanced stances, you should be able to kick their hands out from under them without them having to take a step forward.  This is actually important!  If they have too much weight forward, they cannot step laterally and will step forward and lose.  It’s just physics.  Make them hold this stance in 15 to 30 second increments.  You can use this time to speak to them about anything you need as well.  After the stance hold, have them partner up on the goal line facing each other.  One side will be dummies, the other side will be blockers. (see below)

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Here is how you will operate the drill. You will use this cadence: “hand down, set hut, hand down, set hut, hand down, set hut”. This is done fast.  Make them work.  The presence of the dummies is to provide landmarks for the blockers. The dummies will start off head up.  The blockers will take one step (lateral) to the right and load hands (thumbs out) with head outside of the dummy.  Do this over and over again until satisfied.  Then move to 2 steps.  1 lateral, 1 splitting the crotch. On the 2nd step the blocker delivers the hat hand strike on the outside half of the defender with all the proper land marks for the hands (thumbs out).  Do this over and over again until satisfied. You then will work overtakes, the blockers will overtake the adjacent man’s dummy.  Like this:

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Force them to sprint back to the start point, you want to keep that “hand down, set hut” cadence going.  Once satisfied have the dummies and blockers flip and do the same thing.  Once finished with the new blockers flip back to the originals and go to the left.  The whole thing should take 5-10 minutes.  It gets shorter as the OL learns how the drill works and can operate without much instruction.  Coaching Points: if I catch one of the blockers using improper footwork or hand placement on this drill it is because they are being lazy, I make both the blocker and dummy do up-downs. The blocker for being lazy and the dummy for allowing his teammate to cheat the drill and not get better.  The dummies also operate as coaches, if they see improper feet, hands or hat, they must correct it.

1 Knee Reach Drill: The 1 knee reach is designed to emphasize the lateral drive of the reach block.  You will set the drill up in two lines. It will look like this:

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The lines will work in opposite directions, one blocker at time so you can watch each block.  You will use the same cadence as the Stance and Start Drill.  Left side will go, then right side will go.  The blocker will get down on his outside knee and drive off his inside foot to take a lateral step and get on the outside half of the defender.  Make sure the blocker loads hands (thumbs out) on first step and splits the crotch and strikes on the 2nd.  You will quickly see which of your lineman are weak in the hips and legs with this drill.  Really stress getting that head outside, and getting on half the man.  Do not blow the block dead until you have the pair running sideways! By the blockers 3rd step he should be working to straighten the back and sprint that dummy to the sideline.

The dummy will be in a 2 point stance in head up alignment to start, take a short outside step on contact and work outside trying to act like a defender fighting the reach block.  Once the block is whistled dead, the dummy will go to the back of the opposite line and the blocker will become a dummy.  Make the new dummy sprint back.  He should be back and set before the block going the other way is finished.  You CANNOT wait on them to stroll back, it will kill your reps.  Every drill you do will be at a high tempo.  If you need to slow down for teaching purposes, then do so.  Once you have adequate reps with head up alignment then move the dummies to outside shades.  Coaching Points: always spend the most time on what you will see that week.  No point in working the shit out of head up alignment if they will be in shades on Friday. 

Reach Drill: The Reach Drill is essentially the same exact drill as the 1 Knee Reach.  The only difference is that now, the blockers are in normal 3 point stances.  Spend the majority of your reach work in 3 point stances.  You use the 1 knee reach when your OL is having footwork issues, such as stepping backwards, or not gaining ground laterally on the 1st step.

Remember to stress the difference in the 1st step in relation to the alignment of the defender.  The 2nd step splits the crotch and you get the hat and hand strike (thumbs outside).  By the 3rd step the OL needs to start working on straightening that back hand to torque the defender outside and RUN!  2 things should be repeatedly heard by your OL. “RUN!” and “GAIN GROUND!”  In live situations, improper hand or hat placement can be overcome by these 2 things.   Optimally of course you want it perfect, but when the bullets are live, you don’t get do overs.  So they will at least have pretty good chance if they are running and gaining ground! You need that lateral movement. Of course it’s great if you get some vertical push, but the lateral push is a MUST.  The key to establishing this is the uncovered offensive lineman.

Uncovered Footwork and Technique

The footwork of the uncovered lineman will remain the same no matter the alignment of the defensive lineman.  He will take a flat, open step directly at the adjacent lineman that he is in combination with.  He MUST gain significant lateral ground bringing his body with his step. He MUST open his hips and shoulders to do this. He must NOT step up field on the step.  The aim point for the uncovered OL is the nose of the adjacent OL.  His 2nd step will aimed directly at the nose of the adjacent OL.  This the path that must be taken in order to overtake any inside move by the defensive lineman. (example below)

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The goal of the uncovered OL is to get his hat across the face of the DL on an inside move by the DL.  If this does not happen by the 3rd step of the uncovered OL he will shove the DL onto the lap of the covered lineman and climb to the 2nd level for a linebacker.  The uncovered OL will initially make these fundamental flaws when installing the wide zone.

  • Taking a lateral step instead of a flat step
    • This takes repetition and demonstration. A good way to show the “why” is to have a DL take one step and the OL take one step so the OL can see where the hat of the DL is and understand it will be impossible for him to get his own hat across.  Then have them do the same thing, this time with correct footwork to show the difference.  Make sure in the stance and start drills you are vigilant about taking the proper 1st and 2nd
  • Shuffling instead of turning and running
    • The disdain that offensive lineman have for running is usually the cause of them being offensive lineman. Shuffling is easier than turning their bodies and running.  You must make them do this over and over again.  If you see that they are shuffling instead of running it needs to be addressed and fixed immediately every time. A drill to help with this is the 5 man sled fit.  The OL will line up leaving the last dummy on the sled uncovered.  Each OL will take uncovered footwork and fit on the dummy that is one man over and hold it there for the coach to check.  The last man on the line will go to the back of the line and the next guy will fill in so each OL gets 5 reps in a row before resting.  Make sure they fit on the outside half of the dummy. Once satisfied, switch directions.

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Another good drill for this is the 2 man fit and run.  2 OL will start fitted up to a DL and will RUN him sideways until the uncovered man can push him outside. This drill is more for demonstrative purposes to show the importance of running.  By running often times a combo can take the down guy and sit him in the laps of scraping LBs.  If the DL can’t or won’t run with the combo your offense will have the edge!  When you capture the flanks good things happen.  This is true in all combative sports and is strived for in military tactics.  You will repeatedly smash the football into B and C gaps until the defense jumps inside or can’t run anymore and you will get big plays on the perimeter.

  • Going straight into a 2nd level climb instead of combo blocking the down guy
    • You must stress the importance of taking care of the down guy 1st at any cost. Even at the cost of leaving an LB unblocked.  The down guy will get you for a loss.  The LB will have to make a tackle in space, we at least have a chance there.  The job of the uncovered lineman is to take 3 steps on track so he can shove the DL outside and then climb.  The 3 step minimum takes care of any inside move by the DL.  If he has not made his inside move by his 3rd step he is not going to do so.  After the 3rd step he will climb to the 2nd level

The uncovered OL will see 3 possible scenarios: an inside move in which he will overtake, an outside move in which he will push (if he can, the DL make disappear outside) then climb, and a sit/read technique by the DL in which he will push, then climb.  The 2nd level climb is so the uncovered OL can block the linebacker that is flowing with the play. Coaching Points: Good linebackers always go underneath.  They are better athletes than your OL will ever be.  They will make him look like a fool in space.  The OL must take a path that forces the LB to bubble over the top.  Your uncovered OL will also never chase a linebacker over the top of the combo, rather he will turn back for the next LB. (see below)

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The reason for this rule is under the circumstances in which the uncovered OL is the climber the ball is going to cut back!  The LB that ran over the top of the combo has just run himself out of the play.  The ball carrier will hit this behind him.  If the LB plays disciplined and stays in his gap, the OL will block him on his track and make him bubble over the top. Remember that good LBs always go underneath the block and make a play.  Force that guy over top.  The track of the OL should reflect this.  Once the OL is in a climb phase he will slow down to 7/8 speed and take a 45 degree path while squaring his shoulders.  Once contact is made he will accelerate his feet and finish the block. We aim right between the numbers of the LB.  We do not want to give him the opportunity to slice under us and make a tackle by aiming at his outside shoulder.  By doing this we can ensure that the ball carrier will get an extra few yards even if the LB makes the tackle.  This happens because the LB had to lose ground in order to avoid us.  Of course, we would much rather make contact and block his ass.

Closing

As far as the individual lineman goes, this covers the techniques needed for the successful running of the Wide Zone.  If you would like more information about this scheme such as combination techniques, change ups, leveraging defenders and play action passes, you will need to go grab a copy of “Installing the Wide Zone“.  Make sure you sign up for my email list so you can be notified any time a new article posts and follow me on twitter at @thecoachvogt.