Lew Johnston Tells Us 25 Things to Know About the Wing-T

Coach Lew Says

Coach Lew Johnston is one of the steady “old guard” Wing-T gray beards out there, and I'm amazed at how committed he is to teaching the next generation of coaches the Wing-T specifically, and how to coach effectively in the broader sense. He has a “25 Things to Know About the Wing-T” list that he shares with coaches he is mentoring, so I thought I'd share it here with a bit of editorial license and some commentary.

  1. NO PENETRATION!!! Chris says: this will be a recurring theme. His point is sound and so many choices made in how you line up and how you teach down blocking will impact your success here.
  2. Back your O line off the ball! Chris says: yep – strive for maximum depth of offensive line off the line of scrimmage. Push it a bit until you get called for it, then inch back up.
  3. Angle on kick OUT blocks is critical. Give defender “1 direction” to go. Never let him “fall upfield!”
  4. Double teams are just that… double team. No rub offs! Drive the man straight down the LOS. “Plug” run through holes for LB’s. Back-side puller will “wall off” LB pursuit in the hole. Chris says: interesting point that I will take to heart. I often focus too much on post/lead and getting to the next level, but maybe it would be better to just focus on beating the man in front.
  5. Prepare OL for gap penetrators AND “reading” DL. Chris says: this is why teaching gap, down blocking plus the cover technique are so important for the OL.
  6. NO PENETRATION!!! That includes the Wingback’s down block on “Aggie.” Chris says: I don't know what aggie is in this context but I want to know.
  7. The 1st Step is critical. “Bird Dog” them often! Chris says: this is every position, every play. The Wing T is a precise orchestration. 6 inches is 6 inches.
  8. Guard’s depth on Buck Sweep pull is deeper than any other pull. Chris says: I think he's probably referring to the playside guard who I also have get the most depth, but even the backside guard will bubble a bit.
  9. TE is KEY position.
  10. Guard’s need to be athletic – can run and won’t “miss” blocking in space… on the run!
  11. You can get by with “average” tackles. Chris says: yep – especially if you take out tackle trap and other tackle pulling plays. Those plays can be something to aspire to by the second half of the season.
  12. Center’s “size” is not a factor. Smart (understands the offense) and can make blocking rule calls for the whole line.
  13. Each back has specific athletic skill “requirements.”
    HB: Best “running” back.
    WB: Best all-around back (block, catch and run!).
    FB: Power runner but… doesn’t have to be 220! Quick, tough, wrestler-type.
    QB: Game manager. The better he is, the more you do with him!
    SE: MUST be willing/able to block.
  15. When attacking defenses, start at TE/WB flank.
    If DE is “inside” the TE, start plays outside of him: 21/29 (Buck Sweep); 31/39 (Power Sweep/Toss) or 41/49 (Jet Sweep).
    If DE is aligned “outside” the TE, start attack inside of him: 32/38 Power; 82/88 Down.
    Bringing the SE “over” helps get the CB and SS out of the box.
  16. If the defense has adjusted to your TE/WB flank, probe the Split-side flank: Wing Buck Sweep; Wing Jet Sweep; Criss Cross; Waggle, Counter Bootleg. Chris says: we call these “weak side plays” but it is the same thing. We've gotten a lot of mileage out of counter XX and weak jet sweep over the years.
  18. The Delaware Wing T is a “Flank Attack” offense. Once you’ve “spread” the defense, then attack
    Inside! FB Trap; FB Belly (to Split side); Tackle Trap Counter.
  19. You want to put defenders who have “dual responsibility” in an assignment conflict!!
    The DE has to protect Off Tackle but… he must protect against the Sweep to the edge. He can’t do BOTH!
    The Strong-side OLB must “force” the sweep at him but… he must cover the flat too. He can’t do both!
    The Split-side DE must close on Belly/Iso but… he can’t rush the passer too!
  20. The Delaware Wing T passing game (especially the Play Action Passes) are a complement to the
    running game. They are an integral part of the attack. An athletic QB who can get to the flank
    after faking a run is a huge asset to your offense.
  21. On P-A passes, your QB can “take a peek” deep but… you may want to give him only 2 options:
    1. dump to the flat (a “long hand off!)
    2. run!
  22. Unless you are simply outmanned (and even then a well-executed Wing T offense can be the
    great equalizer!), your Wing T offense can control the clock against anyone.
  23. Be reallllllllllllly good at a few things! Execution is key!
  24. Motions, shifts and changing formations puts the defense on its heels. Use them! Chris says: this is especially true for teams that don't run hurry up tempo. I'm going faster this coming season so we may not do as many shifts and motions that aren't specifically aligned with the play.

Thanks Coach Lew for this great list, and thanks for helping all of us improve our game over the years.