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The Waggle the Best Play in Football
by Bryan L. Schaumloffel
Have you ever been in a conversation with a fellow coach and had your discussion over heard my a person with little to no football knowledge? They look at you a little bewildered when they hear the terms such as Buck Sweep, Belly, Gut, and Counter Cris-Cross. But, probably the most puzzling look comes from the word Waggle. "Wag...what...???," you might hear. When you try to explain the Wing-T to people they want to know what the Waggle is. In fact it is my wife's favorite play along with the Belly. She is always after me to try and run a Waggle Belly Sweep play because she likes the sound of it.
When I started to study the Wing-T I asked one of my former teammates in college, the son of a legendary coach in the state of Maryland, what was their best Wing-T play. Without skipping a beat he replied, the Waggle. He told me it was unstoppable when he quarterbacked his team in high school. From that day forward I tried to learn as much about the Waggle as possible. I remember thinking how can one play be so good. What I found out was that the Waggle is more than just the play action pass off the Buck Sweep, it is a total package of plays within it that make it so great.
The Basic Wing-T Waggle:
The basic Waggle is the play action pass off the Wing-T Buck Sweep (fig. 1). The Buck Sweep Waggle was developed in 1968 by the staff at the University of Delaware. As Tubby Raymond and Ted Kempski state in their book the Delaware Wing-T: An Order of Football, all waggles before 1968 were run from the Power Series without the threat of the fullback in the flat (fig. 2). The Wing-T Waggle has both guards pull away from the action of the Sweep. The first guard logs or hooks the play side end while the second guard provides an escort and cleans up any defensive penetration or pursuit. Like all Wing-T play action passes the Quarterback always has a run/pass option and can turn the Waggle into a Quarterback Sweep by simply yelling "Go" to the escorting guard.
The basic Waggle routes for the receivers cover the entire field and try to create conflicts for the defending secondary. The Waggle can be run to either flank, the tight end side (fig. 3) or the split end side (fig. 4). The end runs a deep outside route, the fullback will attack the flat, and there will be a crossing pattern that comes from the back side. These routes really put the defense in coverage conflicts, especially if the defense is flowing with the action of the Sweep (fig. 5).
Quarterback Waggle Reads
When running to the split side we tell the quarterback that once the halfback passes him on his Sweep fake snap his head around and look for a defender coming off the edge. If the defense takes away the flank attack, pull up and allow the second guard to pick up the defender and hit the tightend on the crossing route. If the flank is clear the Quarterback should look to run with the ball. A part of me still believes the old adage that three things can happen when you pass the ball and two of them are bad. Most of the time our Quarterback is a pretty decent runner and can pick up a nice gain on the play. Each team teaches the read progression differently but we teach the quarterback to look for the fullback in the flat first, the crossing route second, the deep route third, and the backside route last (fig. 6).
Blocking the Waggle
I am not going to go into the individual assignments of the Waggle for the line but I am going to discuss a few situations and adjustments a team can make. The adjustment we make sometimes is a "Solid" call. When we call "Solid" we are telling the back side guard not to pull. There are a couple of situations when we would do this. The first one would be if the defense is in a Eagle look to the backside (fig. 7) If the guard pulls it leaves the tackle with a difficult block to execute. This can leave the Quarterback vulnerable to backside defensive pressure. We will also use a solid call if the Quarterback is facing pressure from the backside regardless of the defensive front.
By using the 60 Series the line blocking can also be adjusted to give a solid look and provide the Waggle with a drop back passing attack. While using the 60 Series the backfield action is the same but the Quarterback pulls up and sets up behind the guard. This is used when the offense wants to throw back or inside (fig. 8).
Individual Waggle Routes and Called Routes
Any of the routes in the Waggle can be changed by adding a word or two after the call. For example: 121 Waggle Post (fig. 9). This tells the split end to run a Post route instead of the deep route. This route can be changed in any way to take advantage of what the defense is doing. Along with the Post, two other common routes are Waggle Out and Waggle Dig.
Another way Wing-T teams try to change the routes run with Waggle are to adjust the routes run by two or more players. Two common Wing-T Waggle adjustments are Waggle Jet (Fig.10) and Waggle Switch (Fig. 11). The Waggle Jet is run to stretch the defensive secondary vertically, especially verus a three deep coverage. By sending four receivers deep it places the free safety in conflict. It is difficult for him to cover two receivers in his zone at the same time.
The second adjustment is to call Waggle Switch. Waggle Switch exchanges the routes run by the fullback and the split end. The split end will run an out pattern and the fullback will continue up the seam behind the cornerback to that side.
Running the Waggle
Like I said earlier we always want the Quarterback to run the ball off the Waggle if the defense gives us that option. But sometimes we want to take the decision making away from the Quarterback and have him run the ball automatically. In those situations we can call two things, Waggle Run (Fig. 12) and Waggle Block. (Fig. 13). Waggle Run is a running play only where in Waggle Block there is still the possibility to pass the ball. Waggle Run works better to the tight end side. The first guard will gut up through the hole while the second guard kicks out the pressure. Once the Quarterback fakes the ball to the halfback on the Sweep he will immediately look to tuck the ball away and drive under the second guards kick out block.
The Waggle Block takes the Sweep fake out of the play. Instead of faking the Sweep, the halfback will block down on the defensive end pinning the flank for the Quarterback, leaving both guards to lead the way for him. This is an excellent running opportunity for the Quarterback while retaining the option to throw the ball.
The Belly Waggle
The Sweep Series is not the only series that can incorporate the concepts of the Waggle. The Waggle using Belly backfield action is an excellent play giving the Wing-T a bootleg off of full flow action to one side (Fig. 14)
Other Waggle Companion Plays
One of my favorite Waggle companion plays is the Waggle Throwback (Fig. 15). I was first introduced to this play by the former coaching staff at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. The play has the halfback carrying out the Sweep fake but instead of blocking the pursuit they will continue down the sideline and receive the throwback by the Quarterback. This is an excellent play against the teams that over react to your Waggle action.
Another classic Waggle companion play is the Waggle Screen (Fig. 16). The Waggle Screen allows the defense to chase the Quarterback to the flank while the offense sets up the screen on the opposite side.
The last Waggle companion play is the Waggle Shuffle Pass (Fig. 17). Here the Wing-T takes the classic Utah pass and incorporates it into the offense. This is a great play versus the defense that attempts to fly up field to stop the Waggle.
As I learned at an early stage of my Wing-T development the Waggle is more than the play action pass off the Buck Sweep, it is The Best Play in Football