What is so special about the Wing-T?

There seems to be an ongoing debate about the usefulness and importance of the Wing-T offense in football, with proponents saying that more division I college (and NFL) teams should run it and detractors saying that it is too old school, too easy to defend, and lacking in the explosiveness needed to engineer come-from-behind victories. Despite these differences of opinion, few doubt the value of the Wing-T in youth football. Sherwood High School has had consistent success running the Wing-T (for close to 15 years), as have nationally renown high schools like the Bellevue, WA Wolverines.

SHS<em>2008</em>HS_Playbook.pdf (page 5 of 109)

I've coached the offensive line for the past three years and I can say that ramping up 3rd-6th graders on Wing T o-line is real challenge - that's what makes it fun for everyone involved. In addition to teaching fundamental techniques like steps, staying low, down blocking, reach blocking, and pass blocking we must teach pull and trap techniques. It is no surprise that we often put the two of the top five athletes on the team at the two guard positions. We run ISO plays which require play-side guard line calls after they recognize the defense. On our buck sweep plays we pull both guards to play-side - a challenge for the guards to get out in front of the half-back, but often an even greater challenge for the center, tackles, and fullback as they plug the gaps left by the pulling guards.

Buck series

The Wing-T is a series-oriented offense that relies on misdirection. The canonical example is the buck series of plays: in its simplest form, the four backs make the same moves on every play in the series. The fullback runs a dive straight up the middle. The halfback (#1) runs a sweep to strong side. The wingback (#2) provides support blocking on the defensive backfield. The quarterback hands off or fakes the dive, the sweep, then boots to the weak side. While this makes things fairly simple for the backfield, the complexity is there for the linemen as they have different steps and responsibilities depending on the play. The dive play requires a trap cross block with the two guards and center. The sweep requires both guards to pull to play side and lead the half back. The boot requires one or both guards to pull to weak side to lead for the quarterback or provide pass protection.

I'll delve deeper into coaching line techniques for this offense in a future post, but I thought I'd share a video I put together last year for some personalized instruction given to our linemen:

The typical progression for play calling is to stick the the basics (dive trap, off tackle, sweep) as long as you can make them work consistently, then periodically throw in the "money" play for the big gain. The money plays for most wing-T teams are the belly counter and the boot pass (aka waggle). Our focus this year on offense will be ball fakes - getting our backs to work very hard at deception to keep the defense guessing who gets the ball.

Here are some other useful resources to learn about the Wing-T: