Sunday, February 13, 2011

83/87 Belly Slide Truck @ 9/1

I really enjoyed the Glaizer clinic this weekend in New Jersey.  Coach Rich Erdelyi put on a great clinic on new ideas with the Wing-T with mulitiple formations, Belly Sweep, and Jet Sweep.

I have not used the Belly Slide concept, but on the way home I was thinking of some new ideas.

The Truck play off of Belly Slide action and a double motion concept of the Belly Slide where the HB would go in slide motion, stop and set in the B Gap and then the opposite HB would go in 3 step motion behind.  I have not worked out the timing but I do think it has some misdirection potential in both directions.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Developing an Offensive Game Plan"

In developing my basis for a game plan I tried to structure it in a sequence a coach would follow while breaking down an opponent's game film. This plan of attack is geared for a team using the Delaware Wing-T offense, but can be modified for just about any offense. This method is by no means the only way or best way to develop a game plan, but used to provide a structured plan while preparing to defeat your opponent. In this article I will not be discussing ways to defeat a certain defense or concept but rather an organized plan of steps I follow when developing my offense game plan.

Get a feel for the team you are playing:
Before you can get in to the details of your opponent you must recognize what they are doing defensively. The best way I feel to accomplish is to watch the entire game all the way through, taking mental notes along the way. Get a feel for the team. What kind of team are they? Do they play with emotion? Are they flying to the ball? Are they aggressive, do they gang tackle? Etc. By doing this you can acquire a better understanding of what they are doing and how you can attack them.

What kind of defense are they running?:
The first aspect you must recognize of your opponent is what kind of defense are they running? This may seem like an obvious question but not all teams run the textbook version of the defense they employ. For example a team may run the 4-3 defense, but does this really tell you what a team does defensively? There are several versions of the 4-3 defense, for example: the Miami 4-3, the under front, Pro 4-3 or do they line up and stunt all game long, etc. For every defense there are a number of different variations. As a coach you have to recognize what each team does differently.

What are the teams strengths?:
Next you want to find out what your opponent's strengths are. Are they huge up front, do they have great team speed, are they well coached and disciplined, are they a blitzing team, do they like to stunt, are they athletic, etc. You also want to locate their best player. What position does he play? Is he a impact on every play? What can you do to make him less of a factor? After you have come up with their strengths you have to ask yourself a question, do the things that we do best match up against their strengths? Are we good enough to go against their strength vs. our strength or do we have to add aspects to our game plan that will try and neutralize their strengths.

What are the teams weaknesses?:
After you have recognized all of their strengths find their weaknesses! Find ways to exploit their weaknesses to your advantage. Can you isolate your best blocker on their weakest linebacker? Are any of their down linemen too aggressive leaving them vulnerable to being trapped? Do they lose contain to the outside? Do they over pursue to the ball where reverses and counters would be effective? Does their secondary over commit to the run? Do they stay in a base defense? Etc. Realizing their weaknesses and weaker players can put you at a distinct advantage to win by exploiting what a team is trying to hide. As the old adage states a team is only as strong as their weakest link, this might still be an effective starting point on the plan of attack.

As a Wing-T team what do we want to do?:
One of the advantage points of running the Delaware Wing-T offense is the presence of the wing back. By having the wing at the end of the line of scrimmage you force the defense to adjust or become vulnerable to being out flanked. By having the wing you force defenders to commit to their responsibilities and assignments. Have a plan of attack to adjust when they "meet strength with strength." 1 As Woody Hayes once said, "Do not attack walled cities."
Another important aspect of Wing -T teams is the use of motion, shifting, and unbalanced formations. As a Wing-T coach it is imperative to have an idea on how they will react to these adjustments made by you. To help you answer these questions find out if they have played any team similar to you in the past or if you have even played them before. Were they successful against the Wing-T before? If they were, chances are they will stick with the same defense scheme. As I stated before, do they react to your wing or do they let themselves be out flanked? How do they react to an unbalanced formation? Do they shift over or do they even notice it at all?  As long time Wing-T coach Denny Creehan recommends in his book The Wing-T: A-Z unless you have game film of the team you are facing playing against a Wing-T team the film might be useless in terms of how they are going to play you.

The use of motion in the Wing-T is an integral part of the offense. The Wing-T has basically three forms of motion; three step, one step, and jet. (Authors note:  there have been more motions used recently by WIng-T teams including Rocket and Canadian.) Some teams try to react and adjust their defensive fronts, secondary, or both depending on the different types of motion. When developing your game plan try and come up with several ways of attacking the adjustments that can be made against you. What do they do when you motion, are they in man, do they rotate the secondary, do they slant to motion, shift over, change coverages, etc. Do they react differently to different types of motion?

Another concept that you can use to work on a teams weaknesses is shifting and stemming your backs and receivers. Do teams try and over play your wing flank or try and match up their best players over your formation strengths? If so shifting and stemming can often force the defense to play you straight up because of the uncertainty of where your strengths will line up. Many times you can use shifting to exploit their weaknesses or get them out of what they are trying to do? As a Wing -T coach, it is very important to ask yourself these questions when developing your game plan.

Find What Number 3 and Number 4 are doing!!
The most important numbers in developing a Wing-T game plan are 3 and 4.  When identifying defensive personnel the Wing-T numbers the defenders.  The defense is numbered inside out, starting from the gap outside the center.  It does not matter what defense your opponent is playing, you still use the same numbering system.  In a straight 4-4 Cover 3 defense for example, the defensive tackle playing in a 1 technique would be number 1, the inside line backer playing in a 30 technique would be number 2, the defensive end in a 5 technique to the split side or the a seven technique to the tight end would be number 3, the outside linebacker would be number 4, and the cornerback would be number 5.  Obviously, any or all of these could change at the snap of the ball with blitzes, stunts, and coverage changes.   The reason numbers 3 and 4 are important is because that is where you are going to start your base of attack.  Number 3 has the difficult job of trying to contain the off tackle hole while also maintaining additional responsibilities.  It is your job as the Wing-T coach to put this player in conflict.  If number 3 closes down with the offensive tackle to stop the Down play he is leaving himself open to the log in the Down Option or down block by the halfback in the Buck Sweep.  Number four most likely would be their force player.  Find out who these players are and how they react to certain plays.  This will make it easier for you call the offense during the game.  

What goes into the game plan?
What you want to do next is decide what plays you want to use in the game. The best view point I have found is if you add a new play into the game plan you must take a play out. You only have so much time during the week to practice your plays and each play must get reparations to be successful. You want your offense to look complicated, but in reality be very simplified to teach and for your players to learn. When planning your plays, attack what the defense gives you. If it is not there, attack someplace else. Do not add plays in your game plan you are not going to use. Practice the plays you have confidence in and are willing to use. Why waste time practicing a play you might use once a game? Develop your game plan with a small number of plays you can run out of any formation. This is the key to having an effective offense, not having a textbook full of plays you have only practiced once or twice during the week. Run plays your players know and have confidence in running. You as the coach should know before the game what play you want run in certain situations before the game is even played.  This is not to say that you are locked into your game plan but you are more likely to make better decisions the night before a game than during the game.

Gimmick or Trick Plays:
Gimmick or trick plays must also be develop as part of your game plan. These plays cannot only break open a game but also put the final nail in the coffin to your opponent. These plays should be used early before your opponent has a chance to use his. A coach I used to work with had a plan when he was a head coach.  He would add a new trick play every week.  This way he said he could possibly have 8 to 10 trick plays by the end of the year.

Short yardage and Two Minute Offense:
The last two important aspect of your game plan you must develop are your goal line offense and your two minute offenses. If you practice and have a good goal line and short yardage scheme it will make you a better football team. In your short yardage scheme you should really narrow your game plan to a few select plays. Choose your best plays with the ball going to your best players. If I am going to lose a game it is with my best players getting the ball. 

You should also develop a two minute offense. This part of your game plan should consist of the plays in the sequence you want to call in this situation. You do not want to be calling these plays off the top of your head during a tight game when the game is on the line. 

Other Questions to Ask:
Along with the above it might be necessary to ask your self some of the questions below when developing your game plan.
  1. Do they over play the wide side of the field?
  2. What is their goal line/short yardage defense?
  3. When do they blitz?
  4. Do they take chances and gamble? If so when and where?
  5. Do they use substitution?
  6. How do they cover the option?
  7. What coverage's do they use? Third and long, short yardage, goal line, etc.
  8. Who is their best player?
  9. How deep are their linebackers?
Developing a game plan can be done in many ways. It can be as complicated as having every play broken down from the opponents last ten games to the starting line-up from their previous game. The above information is given to try and add some of the ideas that I have learned and borrowed along the way. I am always adding new ideas to the way I develop a game plan. I believe this the cornerstone of the coaching profession, always trying to develop yourself to be the best you can be professionally and socially.

Bryan L. Schaumloffel
" - The Original Wing-T Web Page Since 1997"
  • Kraft, George C. (1992). The Fundamentals of Coaching Football, 2nd ed. Dubuque, IA: Brown.
  • Pacelli, Joseph G. (1987). Building Your High School Football Program In Pursuit of Excellence. Champaign, Illinois: Leisure Press.
  • Raymond, H.R., and Ted Kempski. (1986). The Delaware Wing-T: An Order of Football. West Nyack, NY: Parker.
  • Walsh, Bill, and Glenn Dickey. (1990). Building a Champion: On Football and the Making of the 49ers. New York: St. Martins
[Authors Note: Slight changes have been made form the original article]

"Why We Run The Wing-T"

[Originally published in the Winter of 1998]

I very often get asked the question, "Coach why run the Wing-T? Why not something else?" I have also seen the comment on Internet message boards, "Teach what they play." This is meant to say that Wing-T coaches are doing their players a disservice by not running a pro style offense. Opponents would say we are not preparing players for the offenses that are being run in college. This statement alone is an entirely different article, but I think that it is an excellent question to ask. With all the offenses being used in football today, why not follow the trend. I feel very strongly about the Wing-T. A lot of coaches will tell you that the Wing-T an outdated system, a dinosaur from the past. In fact, while I was coaching an all-star game this past season one of the players asked me why we run the Wing-T. He asked, "Coach isn't the Wing-T dead?" I asked him what he meant and told me that his coaches had told the team that the Wing-T was dead system that coaches have figured out how to stop it. I was a little taken back by this statement about the Wing-T. When I got home I asked myself the question, "Is the Wing-T dead?" After thinking about it for awhile I came up with the conclusion that the Wing-T is anything but dead. The Wing-T has changed a great deal from the original offense designed by Dave Nelson at the University of Maine. The University of Delaware developed their version of the Wing-T system by taking Nelson's system and adapting it over the years to change with defensive trends. The University of Delaware's Wing-T today is a far cry from the days of the 1950's, but it still incorporates the basic Wing-T principles developed over fifty years ago. 

Below are two comments I hear a lot about the Wing-T.

1. "To the stop the Wing-T all you have to do is stop the Buck Sweep." Many Wing-T coaches might disagree with this statement but I feel that the Buck Sweep is the most important play in the Wing-T package. If you can run it effectively you can pretty much run what ever you what off of it. But I do not feel that if a team is stopping the Sweep your whole offense goes in the toilet. If a team is shutting down    the Buck Sweep, the team probably is making a strong adjustment to you wingback. If this is the case then it is probable that the defense is leaving themselves open to something else. It is your job to find that weakness and exploit it.

2. "In the Wing-T you need three good backs to run the system, where in the I formation all I need to do is find one good back."  I feel this comment is far from true. In the traditional "I Formation" I believe you need a very good back, plus a very good offensive line to be an effective "I Formation" team. Where in the Wing-T the offense shares the ball with four ball carriers; the Quarterback, Halfback, Wingback, and the Fullback. We do not need a "Super Back" that we depend on 90% of the time, that defensives can key on. I feel in the Wing-T it is possible to stop one aspect of our system but it would be very hard to stop all of them. Do not get me wrong there is no substitute for talent, but I feel that with the Wing-T we can utilize what we have better than any other offense.  I have also have heard that the Wing-T does that star back a disservice by not getting him the ball 25-30 times a game. My response to that is that the team's success is more important than an individuals success. This is not to say that when we have an excellent back we do not feature him more than the others. For example last year we had an excellent halfback how carried the ball 20 times a game. Last year we where predominately a Buck Sweep and off tackle Wing-T team. This year we feel we have an excellent Fullback and this year he will carry the ball 20 times a game. That is one of the strengths of the Wing-T it is very flexible.

Below are a list of reason why we run the Wing-T:

1. SOUND SYSTEM- We feel that the Wing-T is the most sound system being run in football today. As offenses such as the "Run and Shoot" are slowly being replaced, the Wing-T has with stood the test of time from 1950's when the offense was first developed. The Wing-T is more then a formation but rather a system of plays that work off each other and set each other up. While many coaches just run plays, we run an offensive system.

2. SERIES- With the Wing-T all of our plays are put in series. Within each series all the plays look the same for the first two or three steps. As mentioned above all of our plays set up each other, so that the defense can not load up for one play without leaving themselves venerable for one of our companion plays.

3. FORMATION- With our package in the Wing-T we can run all of our plays out of almost any formation we have in our playbook. Of course we like to run certain plays out of certain formations, but we feel we get teams out of what they like to do by throwing different formations at them and having them adjust to it. By doing so we are getting the defense out of what they want to do but still running the plays we want to run.

4. BALL CONTROL- Even when we are in our oneback set, we are still a power running attack team. Almost all of our plays go North and South, where the back squares his shoulders to the line of scrimmage and goes strong through the line. We feel in order to be a consistent winner in football you must run the football effectively. When we do pass the ball it is play-action in nature and again is set up by our running attack and therefore sets up our running game. Even when we pass the ball the quarterback almost always has a run/pass option (Example: Waggle/Keep Pass). What we also like about the Wing-T is that we do not worry about the weather, when it rains we can still run 100% of our package.

5. DECEPTION- With the Wing-T we have a four back running attack (QB, FB, WB, and HB). With each play we will have threat of an attack at each area of the defense. Example: Sweep Series

As a defense you cannot have your players flow to the ball because you will leave yourself open for a counter, bootleg, or reverse.

6. FLEXIBILITY- One of the strengths of the Wing-T is its flexibility from year to year. With the Wing-T you are not dependent on one dominate person to be the center point of your offense. (Example: I Formation- Halfback or Pro and Run and Shoot- QB). With the Wing-T you have four backs to spread the ball around to. The defense can not gear up to stop one aspect of your attack, and must prepare and respect all aspects of your attack.

7. ANGLES- We feel that the blocking schemes of the Wing-T give us an advantage over the defense. We do not have the men up front to drive people off the ball. Most of our opponents will be bigger then us up front, but with the down blocks we can take advantage of the angles the defense gives us.

8. HARD TO PREPARE FOR- We spend hours teaching our players the proper techniques of the Wing-T. The Wing-T is unlike any offense run in football. As a team preparing to play us, they have to duplicate everything that we do and we feel that this is impossible to do in one week of preparation.

9. IDENTITY- The Wing-T gives our kids a sense of identify. They know they are a Wing-T team and different from everyone else. The kids take pride in knowing that.

10. FUN- The most important reason we run the Wing-T is that it is a fun offense to coach and a fun offense to learn and play in.

Bryan L. Schaumloffel - "The Original Wing-T Web PAge"

[Authors Note: Slight changes have been made from the original article.]

"The Waggle... The Best Play in Football!"

Have you ever been in a conversation with a fellow coach and had your discussion over heard my a person with little to no football knowledge? They look at you a little bewildered when they hear the terms such as Buck Sweep, Belly, Gut, and Counter Cris-Cross. But, probably the most puzzling look comes from the word Waggle. "Wag...what...???," you might hear. When you try to explain the Wing-T to people they want to know what the Waggle is. In fact it is my wife's favorite play along with the Belly. She is always after me to try and run a Waggle Belly Sweep play because she likes the sound of it.

When I started to study the Wing-T I asked one of my former teammates in college, the son of a legendary coach in the state of Maryland, what was their best Wing-T play. Without skipping a beat he replied, the Waggle. He told me it was unstoppable when he quarterbacked his team in high school. From that day forward I tried to learn as much about the Waggle as possible. I remember thinking, how can one play be so good? What I found out was that the Waggle is more than just the play action pass off the Buck Sweep, it is a total package of plays that make it so great.

The Basic Wing-T Waggle:
The basic Waggle, is the play action pass off the Wing-T Buck Sweep (fig. 1). The Buck Sweep Waggle was developed in 1968 by the staff at the University of Delaware.

As Tubby Raymond and Ted Kempski state in their book the Delaware Wing-T: An Order of Football, all waggles before 1968 were run from the Power Series without the threat of the fullback in the flat (fig. 2). The Wing-T Waggle has both guards pull away from the action of the Sweep. The first guard logs or hooks the play side end while the second guard provides an escort and cleans up any defensive penetration or pursuit. Like all Wing-T play action passes the quarterback always has a run/pass option and can turn the Waggle into a Quarterback Sweep by simply yelling "Go" to the escorting guard.

The basic Waggle routes for the receivers cover the entire field and try to create conflicts for the defending secondary. The Waggle can be run to either flank, the tight end side (fig. 3) or the split end side (fig. 4). The end runs a deep outside route, the fullback will attack the flat, and there will be a crossing pattern that comes from the back side. These routes really put the defense in coverage conflicts, especially if the defense is flowing with the action of the Sweep (fig. 5).

Quarterback Waggle Reads:
When running to the split side we tell the quarterback that once the halfback passes him on his Sweep fake snap his head around and look for a defender coming off the edge. If the defense takes away the flank attack, pull up and allow the second guard to pick up the defender and hit the tightend on the crossing route. If the flank is clear the quarterback should look to run with the ball. A part of me still believes the old adage that three things can happen when you pass the ball and two of them are bad. Most of the time our quarterback is a pretty decent runner and can pick up a nice gain on the play. Each team teaches the read progression differently but we teach the quarterback to look for the fullback in the flat first, the crossing route second, the deep route third, and the backside route last (fig. 6).

Blocking the Waggle:
I am not going to go into the individual blocking assignments for the Waggle but I am going to discuss a few situations and adjustments a team can make. The adjustment we make sometimes is a "Solid" call. When we call "Solid" we are telling the back side guard not to pull. There are a couple of situations where we would do this. The first one would be if the defense is in a Eagle look to the backside. (fig. 7) If the guard pulls it leaves the tackle with a difficult block to execute. This can leave the Quarterback vulnerable to backside defensive pressure. We will also use a solid call if the Quarterback is facing pressure from the backside regardless of the defensive front.

By using the 60 Series the line blocking can also be adjusted to give a solid look and provide the Waggle with a drop back passing attack. While using the 60 Series the backfield action is the same but the Quarterback pulls up and sets up behind the guard. This is used when the offense wants to throw back or inside (fig. 8).

Individual Waggle Routes and Called Routes
Any of the routes in the Waggle can be changed by adding a word or two after the call. For example: 121 Waggle Post (fig. 9). This tells the split end to run a Post route instead of the deep route. This route can be changed in any way to take advantage of what the defense is doing. Along with the Post, two other common routes are Waggle Out and Waggle Dig.

Another way Wing-T teams try to change the routes run with Waggle are to adjust the routes run by two or more players. Two common Wing-T Waggle adjustments are Waggle Jet (Fig.10) and Waggle Switch (Fig. 11). The Waggle Jet is run to stretch the defensive secondary vertically, especially verus a three deep coverage. By sending four receivers deep it places the free safety in conflict. It is difficult for him to cover two receivers in his zone at the same time.

The second adjustment is to call Waggle Switch. Waggle Switch exchanges the routes run by the fullback and the split end. The split end will run an out pattern and the fullback will continue up the seam behind the cornerback to that side.

Running the Waggle
Like I said earlier, we always want the quarterback to run the ball off the Waggle if the defense gives us that option. But sometimes we want to take the decision making away from the quarterback and have him run the ball automatically. In those situations we can call two things, Waggle Run (Fig. 12) and Waggle Block. (Fig. 13). Waggle Run is a running play only where in Waggle Block there is still the possibility to pass the ball. Waggle Run works better to the tight end side. The first guard will gut up through the hole while the second guard kicks out the pressure. Once the quarterback fakes the ball to the halfback on the Sweep he will immediately look to tuck the ball away and drive under the second guards kick out block.

Waggle Block takes the Sweep fake out of the play. Instead of faking the Sweep, the halfback will block down on the defensive end pinning the flank for the quarterback, leaving both guards to lead the way for him. This is an excellent running opportunity for the Quarterback while retaining the option to throw the ball.

The Belly Waggle
The Sweep Series is not the only series that can incorporate the concepts of the Waggle. The Waggle using Belly backfield action is an excellent play giving the Wing-T a bootleg off of full flow action to one side (Fig. 14)

Other Waggle Companion Plays
One of my favorite Waggle companion plays is the Waggle Throwback (Fig. 15). I was first introduced to this play by the former coaching staff at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. The play has the halfback carrying out the Sweep fake but instead of blocking the pursuit they will continue down the sideline and receive the throwback by the quarterback. This is an excellent play against the teams that over react to your Waggle action.

Another classic Waggle companion play is the Waggle Screen (Fig. 16). The Waggle Screen allows the defense to chase the Quarterback to the flank while the offense sets up the screen on the opposite side.

The last Waggle companion play is the Waggle Shuffle Pass (Fig. 17). Here the Wing-T takes the classic Utah pass and incorporates it into the offense. This is a great play versus the defense that attempts to fly up field to stop the Waggle.

As I learned at an early stage of my Wing-T development the Waggle is more than the play action pass off the Buck Sweep, it is The Best Play in Football. 

Bryan L. Schaumloffel - The Original Wing-T Web Page

Shoulder Blocking vs. Hand Blocking in the Delaware Wing-T

“Grad your jersey with your hands and extend your elbows out, that way the refs can’t call you for holding!”

That was the advice given to me by my father in high school. That was the way his coach taught him in the 1950’s.  The problem was I was playing high school football in the late 1980’s where I was allowed to extend my arms into a player.  When I was in college I was taught to cock my arms back like I was a gunslinger and pull my six shooters out of the holster and drive the heels of my palms into the defenders chest and grab underneath his armpits for a “legal” hold.  Times have changed a lot in football. Rule changes have been made that give the offensive lineman a tremendous advantage on blocking.  When I watch the classic football games on TV it amazes me that the offensive line was able to block anyone rushing the passer while blocking with their hands tight inside to the body.   Today in the pass happy NFL and Fun and Gun offenses of college football most people are aware of the rule that allows offensive lineman to extend their arms while blocking a defender.  As teachers and coaches of the Delaware Wing-T many of us have held on to the “old fashion” shoulder block technique.  Many of us pride ourselves in teaching the basic “shoulder skills” each August.

With more zone blocking concepts being integrated into the Wing-T package many people have abandoned the shoulder blocking concept.  Even the University of Delaware toyed with the idea of using the hands technique on their zone and scoop blocking schemes.  Does the teaching of the hands technique need to be added to the skills we teach our blockers?  We teach our ends to stalk block using this technique on the perimeter.  Even the Delaware Wing-T teaches modern passing blocking techniques using the hands.  Is it time for the Wing-T to modernize its blocking techniques?

First lets look at the blocks that a Wing-T linemen would use.  One of the advantages that many coaches like about the Wing-T is that you do not have to have the big strong lineman to create holes for the backs.  In the traditional Wing-T a team could capitalize on the down block and the angle that it generated to provide openings for the running backs.   Most of the time a Wing-T blocker will use one of the following blocks: down, base, fire, trap, and reach.  Most people would agree that a player generates more power with the shoulder block on the down, trap, and base block.  But what about the fire and reach blocking schemes?  Are we asking our blockers to block people one way when there is an easier way?  Speaking from experience I believe that using the hands technique is much easier on the reach and scoop block then the shoulder block.  Like anything else coaches add to their offense, practice time is always a consideration.  Like most coaches we spend a lot of time teaching and practicing the shoulder skills.  Is there enough time to practice both the shoulder block and hands technique within a regular practice schedule?  There are coaches doing it but are they sacrificing something else by doing it?

I have always been a traditionalist when it came to the Wing-T and used the shoulder technique on all blocks.  Like clockwork I looked towards Newark, Delaware each spring to learn the latest Wing-T techniques and schemes.  But now, with the Wing-T forever dead at the University of Delaware can coaches finally get out of the “book” without feelings of guilt because we are not running the true “Delaware Wing-T.”  Can coaches break the mentality that some of us had that, “We can’t do that because Delaware doesn’t do it!”  I know not all coaches that run the Wing-T felt that way but I know there were a lot.  It should be interesting to see the direction that Wing-T takes in the future.   Is the abandoning of the shoulder block in the Wing-T offense a trend that we might see?

Bryan L. Schaumloffel
" - The Original Wing-T Web Page"