Rich Erdelyi’s New Thoughts in the Shotgun Wing-T

Rich Erdelyi Shotgun Wing-T

Coach Rich Erdelyi probably doesn’t know me from the thousands of other football coaches that he has influenced over the years, but I sure know him. My first interaction with him was when I dropped my son off for his freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University, where Rich was still the offensive coordinator. I had emailed him a few weeks before my visit and he kindly offered to chat with me in his office. 90 minutes later and I had a handful of DVDs with videos and presentations. One of those presentations was “New Thoughts in the Shotgun Wing-T” and I’ve read it and looked at film from it at least 5 different times. Needless to say I was excited to see him give the presentation live at the National Wing-T Clinic and he didn’t disappoint.

General Tips for Shotgun Wing-T

The first question you might ask is “why go shotgun?” Isn’t the Wing-T better under center? In his heart Coach Erdelyi might agree with this, but as a college coach he recognized that it would help him recruit athletes and open up more passing game options. Most of the run plays under shotgun come “for free” with minimal changes to blocking rules. His advice includes:

  • The shotgun snap must be consistent – if it isn’t, don’t do it.
  • Run plays in the gun just as under center. Familiarity breeds consistency.
  • Find ways to highlight the skill sets you have.

When in the shotgun, which usually involves a QB, a single tailback, and possibly a wing in the backfield, Rich keeps the QB and TB at 5 yards depth. He thinks of his QB as a second running back in the backfield.

Buck Sweep and Variations

Coach Erdelyi spent a lot of time with buck sweep as a base play followed by multiple passing concepts. Let’s dive into this first. The formation below is “Twins Left Gun”.

Above you’ll see the shotgun buck sweep vs. a 4–3 defense. The rules are:

  • TE – Gap-Down-Backer
  • RT – Gap-Down-Backer
  • RG – Pull and kick out 1st outside
  • C – Reach-Area-Away
  • LG – Pull and wall off
  • LT – Block #2 from sideline (so the 5-tech above would be unblocked). If 3-tech, replace for pulling guard
  • SE – Block #1 from sideline
  • QB – Read man on BST. Step up on right foot. Give to FB. Fake Bubble screen or opposite if he chases FB.
  • RH – Block down 1st free man inside.
  • LH – Run bubble screen
  • FB – Ball Carrier. Crossover. Follow BSG. Square Cut.

He likes to put his best receiver at the SE (X) position, and his fastest receiver at the slot (LH) position. The bubble screen on the weak side sets up either pre or post-snap read to throw instead of pass, or the coach can call this. He also likes to run double slants and slant/wheel from this same formation and base play.

The QB is giving the ball on an inside hand-off while keeping his eyes downfield, shuffling two steps with the FB as he gives the ball. His shoulders should stay square with the LOS.

Throwback Pass

If the SS is coming down to stop the buck sweep, run the throwback: 

Beware of a 4-tech coming from the backside. The drag route to the SE should be open. He runs a dig, 10 yards, 5 yards to the post, come across the field flat. LH is pushing vertical through center field.

Buck Sweep Keep Pass

If the play-side corner is stopping buck sweep, run the keep pass at him:

The RG will pull and pass-set off the TE down block. The TE will follow the Gap-On-Lead rule, count to 2, then release to the flat. RH fakes his block on the LB and runs to the flag route. SE and LH run the same routes as on the throwback pass.

The QB rides the handoff, crossover/plant, then reads through his three levels.

Buck Sweep Counter Criss-Cross

Coach Erdelyi likes to run a counter criss-cross (XX) off the buck sweep, and it looks like this:

The play-side guard and center both block down, and the LT will block down on a 3-tech if he is there, otherwise pass-set and try to influence a DE to come upfield.

The RG pulls to kick out first man past the LG. The TE also pulls and leads through the hole. The QB hands off to the FB and fakes waggle. The FB runs his normal buck sweep path but then gives to the RH inside and finishes his fake.

Jet Sweep Flip

This is a fun play to consider, and is the same jet sweep touch / flick pass you might have seen West Virginia run a while back: 

He runs this from an empty backfield, 5 WR types. The QB snaps on Red-Set. He catches then pushes the ball straight forward, retracing its path shovels it to the ball carrier in the play-side A gap. He then fakes naked. You can block this just like you’d block jet sweep, such as with play-side reach and allowing the PSG to pull if he is uncovered. The RH should catch the ball about 1.5 feet in front of QB.

He will sometimes allow the QB to check to run it the opposite way if the numbers look better. He teaches the RB to “duck up and get what you can,” getting eyes to the flank right after catching the ball. The toss is lower risk because of it is dropped… incomplete pass.

Trips Right Gun Y-Stick

Below you’ll see Coach Erdelyi’s Y-Stick play, from a trips formation. The flanker to the far right is the RH, the inside slot is the LH.

 Route rules are:

  • TE: 7 yard hitch. Work outside.
  • SE: Slant.
  • RH: 10­12 yard Post.
  • LH: Arrow to the flat.
  • FB: Flare. Get to where LE aligned before you turn up. Look over inside shoulder.

The protection is focused on the 4 defensive linemen and the QB will read the two backers. If the strong LB blitzes, hit the TE. If the weak LB blitzes, hit the slant or flare.

Rich also talked about red zone and goal line offense so I’ll continue this in another post shortly.