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Why We Run The Wing-T
By Bryan L. Schaumloffel
Westhampton Beach High School, Long Island, New York
I very often get asked the question, "Coach why run the Wing-T? Why not something else?" I have also seen the comment on the Internet on one of those message boards, "Teach what they play." This is meant to say that Wing-T coaches are doing their players a disservice by not running a pro style offense. Opponents would say we are not preparing players for the offenses that are running in college. This statement alone is an entirely different article, But I think that it is an excellent question to ask. With all the offenses being used in football today, why not use one of them. I feel very strongly about the Wing-T. A lot coaches will tell you that the Wing-T an outdated system. In fact while I was coaching an all-star game this past season one of the players asked me why we run the Wing-T he asked, "Coach isn't the Wing-T dead?" I asked him what he meant and told me that his coaches had told the team that the Wing-T was dead system that coaches have figured out how to stop it. I was a little taken back by this statement about my beloved Wing-T. When I got home I asked myself the question, "Is the Wing-T dead?" After thinking about it for awhile I came up with the conclusion that the Wing-T is anything but dead. The Wing-T has changed a great deal from the original offense designed by Dave Nelson at the University of Maine. The University of Delaware developed their version of the Wing-T system by taking Nelson's system and adapting it over the years to change with defensive trends. The University of Delaware's Wing-T today is a far cry from the days of the 1950's, but it still incorporates the basic Wing-T principles developed over fifty years ago. Below are two comments I hear a lot about the Wing-T.
1. "To the stop the Wing-T all you have to do is stop the Buck Sweep." Many Wing-T coaches might disagree with this statement but I feel that the Buck Sweep is the most important play in the Wing-T package and if you can run it effectively you can pretty much run what ever you what off of it. But I do not feel that if a team is stopping the Sweep your whole offense goes in the toilet. If a team is stopping the Sweep it is usually for two reasons. Number one the team is superior to yours and if that is the case it does not matter what you are running. If you can not block them they will beat you. Number two the team probably is making an adjustment to you wingback. If this is the case then it is probable that the defense is making leaving themselves open to something else. It is your job to find that weakness and exploit it.
2. "In the Wing-T you need three good backs to run the system, where in the I formation all I need to do is find one good back." I feel this comment is far from true. In the I formation I believe you need a very good back, plus a very good offensive line to be an effective I Formation team. Where in the Wing-T the offense shares the ball with four ball carriers; the Quarterback, Halfback, Wingback, and the Fullback. We do not need a super back that we depend on 90% of the time who defensives can key on. I feel in the Wing-T it is possible to stop one aspect of our system but it would be very hard to stop all of them. Do not get me wrong there is no substitute for talent, but I feel that with the Wing-T we can utilize what we have better than any other offense. I will get into what I mean later on in the article. I also have heard that the Wing-T does that star back a disservice by not getting him the ball 25-30 times a game. My response to that is that the team's success is more important than an individuals success. This is not to say that when we have an excellent back we do not feature him more than the others. For example last year we had an excellent Halfback how carried the ball 20 times a game. Last year we where predominately a Sweep and off tackle Wing-T team. This year we feel we have an excellent Fullback and this year he will carry the ball 20 times a game. That is one of the strengths of the Wing-T it is very flexible.
Below are a list of reason why we run the Wing-T:
1. SOUND SYSTEM- We feel that the Wing-T is the most sound system being run in football today. As offenses such as the Run and Shoot are slowly being replaced, the Wing-T has with stood the test of time from 1950's when the offense was developed. The Wing-T is more then a formation but rather a system of plays that work off each other and set each other up. While many coaches just run plays, we run an offensive system.
2. SERIES- With the Wing-T all of our plays are put in series. Within each series all the plays look the same for the first two or three steps. As mentioned above all of our plays set up each other, so that the defense can not load up for one play without leaving themselves venerable for one of our companion plays.
3. FORMATION- With our package in the Wing-T we can run all of our plays out of almost any formation we have in our playbook. Of course we like to run certain plays out of certain formations, but we feel we get teams out of what they like to do by throwing different formations at them and having them adjust to it. By doing so we are getting the defense out of what they want to do but still running the plays we want to run.
4. BALL CONTROL- Even when we are in our oneback set, we are still a power running attack team. Almost all of our plays go North and South where the back squares his shoulders to the line of scrimmage and goes strong through the line. We feel in order to be a consistent winner in football you must run the football effectively. When we do pass the ball it is playaction in nature and again is set up by our running attack and therefore sets up our running game. Even when we pass the ball the Quarterback almost always has a run/pass option (Example: Waggle/Keep Pass). What we also like about the Wing-T is that we do not worry about the weather, when it rains we can still run 100% of our package.
5. DECEPTION- With the Wing-T we have a four back running attack (QB, FB, WB, and HB). With each play we will have threat of an attack at each area of the defense. Example: Sweep Series
As a defense you can not have your players flow to the ball because you will leave your self open for a counter, bootleg, or reverse.
6. FLEXIBILITY- One of the strengths of the Wing-T is its flexibility from year to year. With the Wing-T you are not dependent on one dominate person to be the center point of your offense. (Example: I Formation- Halfback or Pro and Run and Shoot- QB). With the Wing-T you have four backs to spread the ball around to. The defense can not gear up to stop one aspect of your attack, and must prepare and respect all aspects of your attack.
7. ANGLES- We feel that the blocking schemes of the Wing-T give us an advantage over the defense. We do not have the men up front to drive people off the ball. Most of our opponents will be bigger then us up front, but with the down blocks we can take advantage of the angles the defense gives us.
8. HARD TO PREPARE FOR- We spend hours teaching our players the proper techniques of the Wing-T. The Wing-T is unlike any offense run in football. As a team preparing to play us, they have to duplicate everything that we do and we feel that this is impossible to do in one week of preparation.
9. IDENTITY- The Wing-T gives our kids a sense of identify. They know they are a Wing-T team and different from everyone else. The kids take pride in knowing that.
10. FUN- The most important reason we run the Wing-T is that it is a fun offense to coach and a fun offense to learn and play in.