Glen McNew’s Rocket Sweep

Glen McNew returned to the National Wing-T clinic to give a few talks, and I attended the rocket sweep clinic. I previously wrote about his Defending the Wing-T with the 4–4 Defense and Practice and Game Planning for the Wing-T.

These two articles I wrote previously on rocket might also be of some help:

Why install the rocket sweep?

Coach McNew gave several reasons to install this play:

  • It is easy to teach
  • You only have to block two defenders
  • It is easy for coaches in the box to see
  • It forces the defense to defend sideline to sideline. He likes to start by going outside first in a game, then move back to the inside.
  • There are excellent counters and misdirection play action passes off the rocket.
  • If the secondary is used to stop the play, it opens up the passing game
  • The running back gets the ball at full speed

His keys to rocket

Here are some of his tips for installing the rocket sweep:

  • Put the fullback at 3.5 yards behind the ball.
  • The motion man (usually coming from a wing position) should aim for 1 foot behind the fullback. If running from shotgun formation, his aim point should be 1 foot behind the QB.
  • After he passes this aim point, the back should stay flat (parallel to the line of scrimmage)
  • The ball should be caught when the back is on the outside leg of the widest man on the line.
  • Teach the Dodger Drill to guards and the fullback. For this drill, have three defenders on the edge holding bags. When the drill starts and blocker works toward them, two drop their bags and the blocker must go to the right defender (the one left holding a bag).

Blocking scheme

Coach McNew uses the outside count approach (like Wes Elrod) to number defenders.

The above image is an example for when the play is run to the split-end side. The numbering starts with the end man on the line of scrimmage and works outside and around back through the safety and ending with the playside LB.

Here are his rules:

  • The FB freezes (this is default, though they might offset the FB and have him block)
  • The strong tackle (backside in this case) fires on #1
  • The C must be able to block a 1-technique
  • The TE escapes with an inside release and stalks the deep 1/3
  • If the #2 is wide, the QG will go up inside the wing. This can also happen if the wing gets stretched out. He has the QG skip pull.
  • The QT pulls for the alley unless the DE (#1) stretches his release, in which case he will block #1.
  • The wing has an arc release on the #2 defender. Footwork is crossover, plant, gain about 6–8". If there’s a wide #2, kick him out.
  • The SE (X) will “read crack” the FS (#4) to ILB (#5). If the FS has run support, crack him. If not, take the LB.

QB and ball carrier footwork

The QB steps with his heel at 5 o’clock then reverse pivots. It is a dead ball pitch (no rotation) followed by a boot. The QB should get the ball snapped when the back disappears from his vision.

The WB (ball carrier) motions on heel lift from QB, stepping with inside foot to FB and aiming 1 foot behind him. Maintain a parallel path after achieving this depth.

Variations and counters

  • Run a no mo rocket (aka quick pitch) to a dive back on that side.
  • Belly, down, trap are all options for FB play. Have him freeze first to allow back to clear and fake to finish. If running trap, delay a bit to allow the fake, then have tackles both go straight to backer.
  • Rocket Gut to the playside back. Start the motion as normal, but then have the motion back dive and lead block, giving the ball to the playside back. Block it just like belly.