Roger Holmes is the head coach at Dublin High School in Georgia, USA. He has 40 years of experience with the Wing-T and originally learned the offense under Coach Herschel Moore of Cumberland University. This is the first of two articles and focuses on his approach to the Wing-T buck series.
Personnel-wise, he likes to put his best running back at wing, not FB. He believes the biggest plays happen on the perimeter.
Also, he gave this pro tip: If a linebacker has a staggered stance, he is probably going to blitz.
Why Buck Series?
Roger believes this series forces defenses to cover all areas of the field on each play. Coach Holmes runs counter criss-cross (XX) off buck sweep, so he has inside/outside options on both strong and weak side. His keys to the buck series are:
- Backs must carry out fakes
- Timing is essential in the backfield
- Each player has a block on each play
- You need all four plays in the series
- Most important – You need blocking variations for each play, week to week. He claims that when Michigan invented the Wing-T, they pretty much only saw a 4–4 or 6–2. Defenses have changed, so must our blocking schemes.
Coach Holmes has:
- Fullback with heels at 4 yards. He prefers a 3-point stance. “Put his hand on the ground so its like he has a rocket up his ass.” Love it.
- Halfback (dive back position) is behind the tackle at same depth as FB
- Wingback has his inside foot at 1 yard out / 1 yard deep from the TE. He tilts his WBs.
- The QB stance should be staggered with the pivot foot slightly back. He should extend his arms to get distance away from the center, allowing more spacing between the offensive line and QB for pulling.
Here are Roger’s teaching points:
- The FB needs to look for a nose guard. If there is none, then he has the midline. He will cut after clearing the line of scrimmage.
- If FB sees a nose, then he will cut after his 2nd step.
- If the trap play is going to the right, then his first step will be with the right foot. If he is making the cut on the second step, then his cut to the right will be off his left foot.
- The FB should be aware of who has the linebacker.
- Take the handoff with arms over and under and cover the ball with 2 arms until he clears the LB level.
- If there’s no nose, then the FB will hit moving straight up the midline.
- The QB must also know who has the midline.
- The QB will put the ball on his belt as he pivots away from center and will place the ball into the FB pocket with his back to the LOS.
- Finish with his hand grabbing his hip on the backside as he works toward the waggle fake.
Halfback and Wingback
- The HB faking sweep runs straight through the FB heels.
- The WB blocks the deep 1/3 defender to the playside.
- He runs an “X” variation where the strong tackle kicks out the DE and the TE goes to backer. Normally on trap you would see the ST ripping through DL and blocking backer.
- His “COG” rule is “Center over guard”, where strong guard takes the Mike backer and center folds over.
- “Sucker COG” would be the strong guard pulling like buck sweep, then the center stepping over to take mike.
Roger believes coaches have gone away from buck sweep, which he thinks is a mistake. It particularly hurts the Down series as the DE has less of an assignment conflict. He reminded us that “buck sweep is not an outside running play, it is an off-tackle play!”
As with other plays he believes that running it with one blocking scheme and no variations allows the defense to make it a hard play to be successful with.
- The TE blocks down, and must be on a path to run to the inside
- Same for the play-side tackle
- The play-side guard pulls and kicks out first man outside the WB. He teaches footwork with 3 steps for depth (at 45 degrees), then two flat steps – don’t turn up field right away. He believes this keeps the defender in conflict. Don’t be afraid to teach a log technique here if that’s what the defender is giving.
- The C reaches through playside A gap, allowing FB to take backside A.
- Variation – If there is a weak shaded 1 technique, he will have the center block back on the DL and the FB take the strong-side A gap. Use a call like “switch”.
- The back-side guard pulls flat 2 steps to clear the center. He opens and pulls flat for 2 steps. He then teaches a “speed skate” step to slide for depth, then turn up tight. The goal is to keep the shoulders perpendicular as he pulls and not turn up field. Also helps keep his eyes in the hole.
- The WB blocks the first player outside the TE, no matter what. This means even if that defender is playing outside of the WB. He says this takes away the “I thought…” problem and keeps the assignment easier.
- Coach Holmes also stress the importance of teaching the gap and down blocking technique.
- The ball carrier should have his eyes on the WB butt, running flat then cutting 90 degrees upfield. By then he should be on the outside hip and about arms length away from the back-side guard. This parallel path is extremely important as it stops him from outrunning the BSG.
- The HB must clear level 1 before making a cut.
- Against a 3–4 he will keep the front guard home and pull the strong tackle. The guard goes straight to the backer stacked over him, tackle pulls and kicks out, and TE will take the DT over the offensive tackle.
- Another variant is to run “Buck GX” which is a tighter buck sweep. Instead of pulling for depth, the play-side guard will us a trap technique and the back-side guard will pull tighter and lead.
- He likes to run a 5 yard box drill with the running backs, setting up cones in a 5 yard by 5 yard square. The backs run along the outside perimeter, making a 90 degree cut outside each cone with their outside foot. Go clockwise and counter-clockwise to work on cuts in both directions.
- He also runs the common buck sweep drill with guards and the backfield but includes the C and FB so that he can work on the “switch” call. Run with your 1s and 2s, and have the 2s be the corresponding defender for their position.