Personnel Decisions

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Each year, your personnel will vary. Can the Wing-T adapt? Yes. Certainly better than the spread offense could adapt with a poor-throwing QB. How about a zone read team without a shifty HB? Good luck.

One of the strengths of the Wing-T is the ability to utilize different “types” of kids at the same position. If you have a bunch of big linemen (take that however you want), then certain plays will be more manageable. If you have a bunch of small, quick linemen, then you will benefit from another set of plays. The same goes for big RBs who can block well, or smaller RBs who have more speed.

 

I will explain what you need from each player and why those characteristics suit the position. (Like the rest of my information, my ideas are debatable. This should provide some guidance for you.)

 

Denny Creehan, Wing-T guru, believes that the strength of the Wing-T team goes right up the middle: The Center, the Quarterback, and the Fullback. Actually, the short answer is that all of your players need to be smart, fast, big, and strong to best play each position, but reality often provides complications for us. Anytime a player is not “,” you will have some kind of issue. We’ve all had linemen that were too weak or too slow, running backs without speed or good blocking, and quarterbacks who could not throw well.

 

Offensive Line:

The Split Tackle needs to be mobile. He has to pull on Counter Tackle Trap and Jet XX, and often has to run to the cutoff when he is on the backside of a running play.

**Don’t have a mobile Split Tackle? Avoid Counter Tackle Trap and Jet XX, and know that he probably won’t be at the cutoff for a block on Bucksweep. Running Jet and/or Rocket to the split side could also be an issue. Belly, Belly KP, FB Trap, Power, and Down should all go well.

 

The Split Guard should be your most mobile player. He pulls most of the time, and often has to pull far. Speed and agility are best combined with a kid who is a nasty blocker.

**Don’t have a mobile Split Guard? Good luck! Seriously, this is a problem, but Down should go. Also, short pull plays like Belly, Belly KP, FB Trap, and Waggle might not be a big problem. Power, Bucksweep, Waggle TE, Jet, and Rocket really require your SG to get into space and pull/travel a long way, so I would expect these to be problematic.

 

The Center needs to be smart, as he is often used for line blocking calls, and he needs to be confident enough to snap and still get to his block. He needs tenacity, since a lot of defensive coordinators put a stud at Nose Guard. Finally, he needs at least enough speed to be able to cut off the Nose Guard or block back on a Defensive Tackle.

**Don’t have a Center that fits the bill? You need the guy who can actually snap, then perform as a hard-nosed blocker. It goes a long way to have a Center with guts.

 

The Tight Guard, like the Split Guard, pulls a lot. The pulls are often shorter, so not as much speed is necessary. On Bucksweep, Waggle TE, Down, and Down KP, the Tight Guard either pulls and kicks out a nearby defender, or logs the defender, so not as much mobility is needed. On Trap, Power, Belly, and others, he is really only blocking down, so again, speed isn’t too big of an issue.

**Slower TG? Plays like Waggle, Bucksweep to the SE side, and Belly Sweep require the TG to travel some distance, so his speed will be a bigger factor. You might consider avoiding these.

 

The Tight Tackle, out of all of your linemen, might be the best position to “hide” a player who lacks something. The vast majority of the time, he blocks inside. If he does need to get to the second level, then he is looking for a trailing LB and can position himself to meet him five yards off the LOS. Pulling is not a common practice at the position, so you might look at the big, strong, but less mobile lineman on your team. Don’t get me wrong, a Tight Tackle can really have an impact on your running game, but if you find that quickness isn’t a common trait for your linemen, then don’t waste your fast guy at TT. A fast TT can pull on Rocket/Jet to the TE flank, can really help out the Center on Bucksweep vs. a 50 front, can open holes for Power Off Tackle and Jet XX, and get a nice second level block on Trap.

**Big and slow TT? Just avoid Jet & Rocket to the TE side, and know that he might not make it to the LB well.

 

The TE has a big job. The Wing-T revolves around a dominating run game, so he must be a blocker. The kind of speedy TEs used by many spread teams, who are really just larger receivers, might not cut it. Again, in the real world, that might be who you have to play TE. Don’t let him spend too much time with the Split Ends, running routes and practicing sideline catches. Keep him with the OL in their drills and toughen him up. The “off tackle” plays actually hit off of the TE’s tail much of the time, as he will block inside and be where the TT originally aligned. Examples include Down and Power Off Tackle. Having said that, the TE is crucial for the passing game. I will dare to say that he does not have to be fast, but obviously he can’t be slow. He goes to the second level frequently on run plays to the TE side, and he pulls on WB Counter and Counter XX. On Waggle TE, he goes inside to the second level, as he does on so many run plays, and then runs a corner route. Often, he is WIDE open on Waggle TE. On Waggle, and Belly KP, the TE runs a crossing route and trails many of the playside defenders. He is a great outlet for the QB when the SE and RB are covered.

**Have a TE who is not big and strong? Let’s hope that he is fast. Make him tenacious so that he can hold his block “long enough.” Utilize him in the passing game and the counter game. If he is like another lineman, and not much of a receiver, then he will be a great asset in the run game. Avoid Waggle TE and Down KP, but know that even a slow player will likely be open on Waggle TE. (Up to you to call that one, coach.)

 

Backfield:

The Fullback is your premier RB in the Wing-T. Look for the fast, hard-nosed kid who will make the tough runs and lay the wood when blocking. Sound too cliché? I don’t care. This is THE GUY. A powerful FB can make the offense work, but a FB like I just described will make the offense thrive. A lumbering FB who can hold onto the ball will gain yards on Belly, Down, and Trap, and he will also help hold the LBs on Bucksweep. A more athletic FB opens up many possibilities. With a little creativity in the use of formations, the FB can be an extra blocker on Jet & Rocket, a decoy away from Jet & Rocket, and the ballcarrier on Bucksweep. Counter Tackle Trap, with Rocket motion, can be deadly with a mobile FB aligned in the diveback position.

 

The Wingback can come in a variety of types. Not surprisingly, you want a guy who is strong, fast, aggressive, etc. The WB is the primary ballcarrier on Jet and Rocket,
and those only work if the player has some speed. His down block on the Bucksweep is arguably the most important block on the whole play, determining the play’s success or failure. A speedy WB will hold the Safety on Waggle and be wide open in the flat on Down KP. His speed when running Jet Sweep will set up the defense for the Jet XX, which is a double-handoff counter. If you have a guy who does not have speed, then you have likely picked him to block. A guard-type player can set a devastating down block on Bucksweep, and can also be an effective iso blocker when using flat motion on Down and Belly. I had a WB who, frankly, was slow, and he STILL got good yardage on Counter XX (a double-handoff counter from the Power series.)

 

You need to have a guy with speed at Halfback. He is the ballcarrier on Bucksweep, Power, Counter Tackle Trap, and Jet/Rocket to the TE side. His speed will draw the attention of the LBs and help with the FB’s Trap play. Also, he will often be wide open in the flat on the Belly KP. The tough thing regarding the HB is the speed-for-size tradeoff. A speedy HB is often not big, but the HB has a central block in the Belly play, taking on a LB. He has to use that velocity to at least achieve a stalemate at the point of attack. A slowish HB can still block, and he will likely be able to use good blocking by his teammates to get yards on Bucksweep, but his effectiveness will be limited.

 

The ideal Wing-T Quarterback has many qualities, as he would for any offense. If he can run and throw, is smart, and shows leadership, then the playbook is wide open.

  • A running QB is a bigger threat on Waggle, as the receivers will likely clear out the defenders. Conversely, a QB who runs well makes those defenders slower to drop since they must defend him. By adding the tag, “follow,” the QB simply keeps the ball and follows the original ballcarrier. Bucksweep “follow” keeps all of the original blockers, plus now you get the HB as an additional blocker for the QB. Putting the QB in the shotgun, in the spot where the FB usually lines up, allows him to run several of the FB plays.
  • A slow QB can still be effective at deception, getting the ball into the hands of the RBs or making smart decisions about his throws. His lack of speed won’t hurt him on “follow” plays like FB Trap “follow.”
  • A QB who is smart, but lacks the physical attributes that coaches look for, can still be a great asset. Giving your signal caller a “check with me” play can help the team by exploiting the defense’s weaknesses. You line up, let the QB look over the defense, and then let him audible to a play that will take advantage of what they’ll give you. A guy who is sharp but can’t throw well will generally be able to see the wide open HB or WB in the flat on a KP and make that throw.  Generally.

 

Split Ends

Split Ends can spread out the defense, can provide invaluable blocking on the edges, or can be hidden near the edge of the field. Ideally, you want a guy who can block and catch, who is disciplined enough to run the correct route, and can identify the defensive coverage.

  • In the case of a fast player, his speed should be used to draw the perimeter defenders, like corners and safeties, out of the box. If the SE does pull defenders out, then the running game will go more smoothly. If he does not draw the attention of multiple defenders, then you will likely have a one-on-one situation, which should favor your speedster.
  • A hard-nosed SE can be used to stalk block on the perimeter (versus a corner), or to crack block an interior defender (LB or maybe a S). The perimeter block set by the SE on Jet/Rocket can be the difference between six yards and sixty.
  • If the superintendent’s son is on the team, and he is somewhat “under talented,” then you can put him in the game at SE. Many running plays, and several pass plays, do not require a SE with any talent, and you can really “hide” a kid out there. This might be a little controversial, but we sometimes need to get a kid into the game where he can’t hurt the team too much. Sorry.