During my twenty eight years of coaching high school football I coached at every level and just about every position. I finished up my last ten years as a defensive coordinator. But I was never a head coach in football. I used to think about being a head coach and always speculated about what offense I would run. I really like running the football and I enjoy option football. So, it came down to two for me. It would’ve been either the Flexbone or the Wing-T. I absolutely love option football so I probably would’ve leaned toward the Flexbone. But I always liked the Wing-T also. As a D coordinator I hated coaching against the Wing-T. It has a great combination of power, deception, option and a killer play action passing game. It gave us fits and I really liked watching Wing-T teams in action.
The Wing-T was made famous by University of Delaware Coach Harold “Tubby” Raymond and is many times referred to as the “Delaware Wing T”. All Tubby did was change the old “T” formation around a little by putting the right halfback on the right “wing” of the offensive line (hence the name Wing-T) and split out the end on the weak side. It is a popular misdirection offense that can be hard to stop. The basic formation (shown below) is characterized by that Wing Back just off the Tight Ends flank on the wing or side of the line. The offense places all three running backs in prime locations for counters, fakes, and other misdirection plays. The system also features the Quarterback Waggle or Boot Pass, which gives a good quarterback the chance to run or throw, and can tear apart a defense.
Basic Wing-T Formation
Unfortunately, the Wing-T is thought of as a 3 yards and cloud of dust offense and therefore boring. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it IS a ball control offense, but the faking and misdirection gives it a lot of big play capability. Not only that, offensive minded coaches have come up with many more formations to throw the ball out of and also new schemes that has made the Wing-T one of the more dynamic high school offenses today. It is definitely not your grandfathers Wing-T offense and there are many reasons why coaches run this offense.
Let’s focus on what can be called the HEART of the Wing-T. If you’re running this offense, these are the three basic plays that most Wing-T guys say you gotta have. They are the Buck or Trap, the Buck Sweep and the Waggle or Bootleg pass. In the old days when the Fullback went straight into the line, it was called Buck. The Trap (Buck) is the first basic play of the Wing-T. It’s a quick, hard hitting play right at the defense. The great thing about this series is that the back field action will be the same for all three plays – Trap, Sweep, Waggle. This makes it tough for the defense to determine if the play is coming right up the middle or outside on the perimeter. This series shows how three areas are being threatened with one play. The Fullback threatens the middle, the Halfback threatens the right flank, and the Quarterback threatens the left flank. Shown below is the Buck Trap.
BUCK TRAP VS 4-3
Quarterback – Open play side and hand off to Fullback – continue to Halfback, fake to HB and continue on boot action.
Fullback – Receive hand off from QB and look to bend it back to the strong side. Look for Tackles’ block on Middle Backer and break behind it.
Halfback – Receive fake from QB and continue on sweep action to the strong side. A great fake is key!
Play Side Guard – Block down to Middle Backer.
Center – Block back to back side D Tackle.
Back Side Guard – Small step back then trap first man head up to outside play side guard.
Play Side Tackle – Block outside Backer.
All other players block the defender ahead of them, depending on the defense.
Now that the defense knows the FB can come straight ahead, the Buck Sweep can be run. This play attacks the perimeter of the defense while the FB fakes his Buck path. This action by the FB freezes the defense for just an instant – enough to make the Buck Sweep a devastating play. It features two pulling guards to hammer the outside linebackers and corners and make a lane for the Halfback to run.
BUCK SWEEP vs 4-3
Quarterback – Same action as in the Buck Trap except fake to the fullback then give to the halfback. Continue on with boot action.
Fullback – Same action as in trap – except fake receiving hand off and block D Tackle, filling for pulling guard.
Halfback – Same action as in trap except now receive hand off from QB and get to the outside looking for a lane to open. Get north and south and explode through the lane.
Play Side Guard – Pull and kick out first defender that has contain.
Center – Cut off block on middle backer.
Back Side Guard – Pull and get to perimeter looking inside to block first man that shows pursuit from inside.
Play Side Tackle – Block down on inside gap.
Back Side Tackle – Get across field to kick out defensive back.
Tight End – Block down to inside gap.
Wing Back – Block down on inside gap.
Wide Receiver – Head up field looking to cut off pursuit.
The Waggle Pass is the play action pass off of Buck Sweep. Again, the back field action remains the same as in Trap and Sweep. But now, the Quarterback fakes to both the Fullback and Halfback and continues on his Bootleg track WITH the football. His primary receiver is the Tight End, who is running a drag route about ten yards deep. As the Quarterback gets out on the perimeter looking at his receivers, he also has the option of tucking the football under his arm and running. A good running Quarterback can be very dangerous to the defense on this play.
Quarterback – Fake to both backs then roll out and look for Tight End. Throw or run – which ever is open.
Fullback – After receiving fake from Quarterback, continue to flat 3-5 yards deep. Although the Tight End is the #1 receiver, be ready to get the ball.
Halfback – Get on the sweep track and carry out a GREAT fake from the Quarterback. Must make it look like he has the ball.
Tight End – Release from line of scrimmage and get behind linebackers to about ten yards of depth. Get to opposite side of offensive line. If man coverage keep running to the sideline. If zone – find the open spot and settle in.
Wing Back – Run a post route. Always be ready to get the ball – this could be a touchdown if open.
Wide Receiver – Run a post-corner route to influence the corner back inside. Again, be ready to get the ball if it comes.
Installing As An Offense
Learning this Buck Series is a great starting place for running the Wing-T. You could actually go into a game with this series only and from the base formation and be competitive. Each week, add a play (or two) and before you know it, you’ve got a nice offense. Additional running plays could be a Power or Iso play, a counter, off tackle belly, and a rocket or jet sweep. As far as adding to the passing game, a couple more play action passes, a sprint out series, and a quick passing game. It’s fun to build your offense. But if you really want to learn more about the Wing-T, I would go to the Wing-T Master, Mike Johnson from Indiana. Coach Johnson and his Pioneer Panthers were 144-27 since 2001. In 2015, the 13-2 Panthers finished as the Indiana Class A State Runners Up. Their 13 wins marked the 14th year in a row that Coach Johnson’s Pioneer squad has won 9 games or more. A featured speaker at the the 2015 National Wing-T Clinic in Pittsburgh, PA, he is renowned in the Midwest as one of our best Wing-T experts.
If you’re looking for a different version of the Wing-T, I would go no further than Coach Job Linboom of Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School in Illinois. Linboom’s teams have qualified
seven times for the IHSA playoffs capping it off with a 13-1 record and a 2A State Championship in 2016. The DeeMack Wing-T series is a great addition to any Wing-T library. We highly recommend both of these video series.
We here at Chiefpigskin believe that all offenses are good if learned inside and out and then taught to your players inside and out. The Wing-T is no different and the available videos will give you that opportunity.
As always, feel free to contact us here at Chiefpigskin any time to talk football. That’s what we do.
Coach L. Albaugh DBLITY