wingT

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!

 

 

Simple Steps For Defending The Wing-T

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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

STEP 6-Practice

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

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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.

CLOSING

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

  1. No even fronts
  2. 5 on each side
  3. Never leave weak B gap empty
  4. Beat up the wings
  5. Eliminate guards
  6. Practice

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A LEGEND OF THE FALL

Tubby Raymond and the Wing-T

There is probably no other coach in history that has had as much of an impact on this game than Tubby Raymond.   In the Early 1950s Tubby and his staff developed the offense that would eventually permeate every single offense in the country in some form or another if not directly copied.  That offense was the Delaware Wing-T.  More than just a style of play, it is a systematic method of attacking a defense, allowing smaller less athletic players to be successful using angles and numbers on the edge.  My personal exposure to the Wing-T came as early as I can remember.  My father was a head football coach since before I was born, early mornings for me consisted of buck sweeps, bellyG’s and down options.  At that point the offense was over 30 years old, now in 2017 it is still prevalent everywhere you look from peewees to pros.

Numbers and Angles

wingT

The numbers advantage of the Wing-T is very apparent on the edge.  The wings are on the line of scrimmage creating extra run gaps for the defense to account for.  This forces the defense to incorporate the secondary into the run fits, opening up deadly play action passing opportunities.  Coupled with unbalanced you can place a lot of stresses on the defense.  The numbers advantage also extends into the back field as it can be a true 4 back offense, allowing the skill players to share the load.  The versatility of the Wing-T is on display today as several major Division One football programs have incorporated the Wing-T into the spread offense. Auburn and Clemson are the obvious examples here.

Probably the greatest advantage of the Wing-T is the use of angles for the offensive linemen to complete blocking assignments.  Typically on the front side the blockers will “gap” block.  Meaning they will come down on an angle on the first man inside of him to the nose of the adjacent blocker, if there is nobody there or the man disappears he will climb to next level.  It is all quick pin blocking to allow the ball carrier to quickly get to the crease.  This makes it possible for small, undersized, out muscled linemen to still be successful.

Conflicts and Misdirection

Play calling in the Wing-T is all about creating conflicts.  You do this with play series and “companion” plays.  The example we will use is buck sweep and bellyG.  If the defender on the edge is playing to stop the buck sweep, then by nature he is leaving himself open for the bellyG. He cannot play both. When he starts to squeeze, so he can make a play on the bellyG you go back to buck sweep. Both of these plays place the secondary in conflict as well. This is due to the extra run gaps they are responsible for filling.  Once you identify that the secondary has begun playing run aggressively you can then go for a play action shot for the end zone. The misdirection comes into play because the QB has his back turned to the defense after the snap and a fake is carried out for each plays companion play, further placing the defensive into conflicts of assignments.

Permeation and Evolution

BuckSweepAuburn.0

Since it’s the development the Wing-T has permeated every level of football.  I used Auburn as an example of how the offense has been incorporated into the spread. But how about the NFL?  Lately we have been seeing some buck sweep and even bellyG in the NFL, but the Wing-T’s impact started much earlier.

jet

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Tubby Raymond and his staff began doing something that would eventually dominate NFL offenses.  They started running jet sweep and zone blocking with the offensive line.  The lateral movement of the offensive line and cut blocks on the backside would be the basis of the modern widezone. Naturally they also began faking the jet sweep and handing the zone play to the fullback, looking very much like the zone plays you see in almost every run play in the NFL today. Just like the buck sweep and bellyG the jet sweep and zone to the full back is about numbers and angles, instead of pinning inside, the zone series stretches the edge out, creating run lanes for the ball carrier.

Closing and Resources

As always please feel free to comment, share and follow with your email.  You can also give me a follow on twitter @thecoachvogt.com.  Also check out bucksweep.com it is an outstanding resource on the Wing-T offense.   And here is a video of Tubby explaining why he created the Wing-T with a quick description of the buck sweep and the BellyG.