Flop the offense, or not?

When I started coaching 7th grade football at Glen Este, I knew less than nothing about the Wing-T. Everything that I learned was in the context of how Zak Taylor, HC and OC, ran the offense. Initially, I assumed that everybody ran things the same way. This was the situation when I started coaching the offensive line. After leaving GE, Zak went to Batavia as Offensive Coordinator, helping to guide them from a 2-8 season in 2011, to a playoff victory and an 11-1 season in 2012. In their last five contests (prior to their final game), they averaged over 500 rushing yards. They lost to the eventual D IV state champ Clinton-Massie, but not before tallying over 250 yards on the ground. That is the guy who taught me, and I trust what he says.

 

On television, I heard references to the “right” tackle and the “left” guard, but not at practice.

 

 

In the diagram above, there is no Split End. He would be on the line, split out to the left. As you can see, the Tackle to the TE side is the “Tight Tackle,” and the Guard to the TE side is the “Tight Guard.” The Tackle to the SE side is the “Split Tackle,” and the Guard to the SE side is the “Split Guard.” For my opinion on what type of attributes are needed for each position, please see my personnel page.

 

All of our formations were based on having the TE to the left or right side, and the entire OL (except for the C, of course) flopped with the TE. Every time the TT looked to his inside, there was the TG, but they might be on either the left or right of the C. Going hand in hand with the OL flopping, the HB and WB also flopped. With the exceptions of the C, QB, and FB, the whole offense flopped depending on the formation.

 

Why do this? Why not just have a guy who is always the left Tackle, and another player who is always the right Guard? Many teams, especially in college and the pros, don’t flop, so why do it? I believe that the goal is simplicity.

 

There are plenty of times where the Wing-T lineman across from you is not the guy who is going to block you. We block down, pull to a location nearby, pull to the other side of the formation, influence block/pull, and more. There is A LOT going on, so if you can have the same player pull every time you run Tackle Trap, or the same player pull and kick out on Down, then the level of execution goes up. More identical reps per play, per player. If the TT always pulls and traps inside out, and the ST always takes the 1st LB from the Center, then they are both better prepared when the play is called. Combine this with what I point out on my personnel page, and you can see that you give your team the advantage by flopping the personnel. If you have your “Big Bubba” kid at TT, are you going to want to call Tackle Trap to the other side?

 

Consider another advantage: personnel matchups. Many defenses will put their most athletic OLB to the offense’s strength, or maybe to the wide side of the field. Some defenses just have a left DE & a right DE, and/or left OLB & right OLB. If your team is accustomed to flopping, and you find the defense is not, then you have an opportunity to create favorable personnel matchups. Can a DC make the adjustment in the game and switch sides (or strength or whatever) with some of his key players? Of course he can, but if the adjustment affects their play at all, you still have gained an advantage. The way we had always done it at Glen Este, where I learned the Wing-T, flopping the offense was no more difficult than stepping with your right foot one time, and your left foot the next.

 

 

Before I talk about any disadvantages, I will say that how big of an advantage you get from any tweaks you make to our offense is on YOU. Guys flop, and others don’t. Guys cock in their WBs at forty-five degrees, and others square their WBs’ shoulders to the LOS. Guys run the Wing-T from under Center, from the pistol, and from the gun. You can likely find as many coaches who successfully flop as those who never flop. How you approach the Wing-T, how much you put into it, how well you can plan what YOUR Wing-T will look like, and ultimately how well you can polish it all, will determine whether or not any adjustments will make any difference.

 

 

Your personnel can make flopping the offense as big a detriment as an advantage. In the case I’ve presented, you can have your best G play SG, and your second best G as TG. Where does your third best G play? If he goes to backup SG, and the TG goes down, then what? You have your fourth best G stepping in. If you had trained all of your Gs to run Bucksweep left and right, Trap left and right, etc., then you don’t have to worry about getting your backup SG up to speed at TG.

 

Similarly, if your HB and WB are comparable, then you may want to have them both run Bucksweep at different times. If you do not flop your offense, then the WB will only be running Bucksweep to the SE, and never to the TE (assuming that you are not running any double TE sets). If you cross train all of your HBs/WBs, you have the luxury of doing what you like with those guys.

 

 

Advantages to flopping your offense:

  • Players can specialize, getting more reps at half the offense, and using the player best suited for a particular skill/play.
  • Player chemistry. The ST is always with the SG, and they always have the HB with them. The TE, TT, and TG are always with the WB.
  • You can use the same player(s) to attack either side of the defense, and they are comfortable with it.
  • Better (in my opinion) ability to gain favorable personnel matchups.

 

Disadvantages to flopping your offense:

  • You limit the play selection for each skill player (HB runs Bucksweep; WB runs Rocket to the SE).
  • Depth at each position, beyond the starter, is limited since the backup just learns SG or TG, not just G.

 

 

After personally advocating the flopping of the offense, I will admit that I stayed in some variation of “Red” over 80% of the time. I would run Bucksweep to both flanks, Rocket to mostly the SE flank, Belly KP and Down KP to attack both flanks, and both Belly and Down to attack off tackle to each side.

 

Please feel free to comment on what you liked or didn’t like about my article. Sharing how YOU do it at your school, and why you like doing it that way, will enhance the value of this article.

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses to “Flop the offense, or not?”

  1. Kevin says:

    Coach, good article.

    I’d be interested to know what you look for when you flip flop your OL as far as player qualities for each position (ie My ST is my best athlete, etc).

  2. donbjacobs says:

    The lame start to my response is, “It depends.” For MY ideas on the qualities for each player, please visit my personnel page (http://www.wingtcoach.com/personnel/). From there, you have to see what plays YOUR Wing-T offense will emphasize. On my personnel page, after describing a pretty ideal kid for each position, I also tried to give some suggestions on who you could put in there if you didn’t have that ideal kid.

    Look at the Jet XX/Counter XX post you had on bucksweep.com (http://bucksweep.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3154). Coach Erdelyi mentions pulling his Tackle on Jet XX. Although he doesn’t get SEC players at Carnegie, he probably has a better selection of talent than most of us have at our high schools. Most of the guys that I/we’ve had playing that TT position are NOT guys you want pulling to lead some speedster WB. If you have two mobile Tackles, two mobile Guards, and two WBs who can block & run, maybe the decision to flop or not to flop is irrelevant.

    We’ve always had talent, or at least we haven’t been talentless. The Glen Este guys have always been workers, and guys who would listen. The combination of “enough” talent and work ethic had always made flopping the offense a good fit.

  3. Kevin says:

    Don, one other thought came to me concerning the flopping of the OL.

    When doing this how much of a Check With Me system can you run? For example, we always try and run Trap to a 3 technique DT, trying to keep us into running plays into the best possible look that we can.

    Is that sort of thing doable when flip flopping your OL, since that Tight Guard really doesn’t know the rules for being a trapping OL since that is more of a Split Guard skill?

    Or do you just assume that since the rules/techniques are simplified because the kids are only learning one side of the play that they are still ok to run the play into the “less than optimal” look because they have done it so much because of the specialization of reps?

  4. Don says:

    I’ll say that when you flop your line, the guys need to learn it one way TO START. The SG pulls on FB Trap, the ST pulls on Tackle Trap, the TG pulls on Belly Sweep, and so on. By doing everything one way to start, you are maximizing their number of reps and specialization at that position.

    Having said that, a TG who has never pulled on FB Trap, DOES pull on Buck, Down, Waggle, and so on, so he could certainly learn to pull and trap a 3 tech to the SE side. Once your guys are proficient (or pretty proficient) at your base plays the “usual” way, then you can decide that it is time to run plays to the opposite side. I mentioned in my post that I would run Buck to the SE side with my freshmen later in the season, and used it as a “check with me” then.

    Say that you guys really like to trap that 3 tech, and it is important for you to be able to run it either way. Well, run Buck to just the TE side, Power to just the TE side, Belly to just the SE side, and then Trap to BOTH sides. That is not doubling everybody’s learning, but just like adding one play with blocking schemes that the OL is already familiar with.

  5. Kevin says:

    I see what you’re saying. That makes alot of sense.

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