February 13th, 2011 by Pat Murphy
The ShotGun Wing-T: Bucksweep Series
Since moving to the shotgun wing-T in 2005, the Capital Bruins have led the State of Montana in rushing yards from 2005-2009, and have played for the state championship for five years in a row. Winning the championship in 2006, 2007 and 2008. During this span they set a state record 33 game winning streak. We still run traditional wing-T sets, but have found the spread shotgun sets useful in spreading defenses out. Like many wing-T teams, we occasionally get a defense that will load the box with 8 or 9 to stop our running game. The shotgun wing-T gives us an answer for this situation and allows us to take advantage of single coverage and get the ball to our receivers. This article will focus primarily on the bucksweep out of the spread shotgun set.
The shotgun allows the QB to read the play as it is happening. He has a good view of the defensive end and he can than read this defender similar to an option play. We therefore do not have to block this player and we gain an advantage. We do however, lose the good fakes a quarterback makes if he was under center, and we lose the fullback trap. The quarterback must compensate for the fullback, in other words he must be able to run the ball to add the other dimension to the bucksweep. Another advantage of incorporating the shotgun with the traditional wing-T is that it often forces the Linebackers to look into the backfield. The quarterback is often mistaken for a fullback by his alignment, as linebackers see two backs in the backfield, so they don’t reduce out to our wide receivers. Our main formations are as follows:
The quarterback must align the same depth as a fullback would in our regular wing-T sets. For us this means his heels are at 5 yards. The halfback aligns behind the quick tackle and either even with the quarterback or one foot in front of him. It is important for the timing of the play that the halfback is behind the tackle and no closer. Since he will be close to full speed at the snap of the ball, if he is closer to the QB, he will ruin the mesh. Also the halfback cannot be behind the QB, since we want him running parallel to the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. Our wing can be our regular wing that we use in our traditional wing-T sets, or he can be the fullback. The trade off is that our regular wing provides continuity while our fullback allows us a bigger more physical blocker. Our wing aligns so his inside hand can barely touch the tight ends out side hip. This gets him in a proper position to down block.
Wing: Gap Down Backer. Block first man inside of you. Six inch, 45 degree step with the inside foot. Work head across the man and punch your inside hand into his sternum. Outside elbow comes up to prevent movement outside. We cannot allow penetration or the defender to get outside the wing. If there is a stale mate and we keep the defender on the line of scrimmage, then we have won the battle.
Tight End: Gap Down Backer. Protect your inside gap by using your down technique. If no one is in your inside gap, stay on your down path to the linebacker.
Strong Tackle: Gap Down. The usual rule is Gap Down Backer. On a 50 front we will have the strong tackle block down flat to help the center with the nose.
Strong Guard: Drop step to 5:00 or 7:00 o’clock, using three steps to gain a depth of 2 to 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. On your third step, drop your hips and climb to the line of scrimmage. Trap the first man outside of the wings block. It will either be the corner, strong safety, or a scraping backer. Make contact while working your helmet into the hole, forcing the defender outside or up field.
Center: Reach On Gap. Reach nose if he is shaded playside, or is in a zero technique. You will have help from your strong tackle. Otherwise fill for the pulling quick guard.
Quick Guard: Step to 3:00 or 9:00 o’clock, using two steps and pull flat and fast. On your third step take a glide step like a speed skater, to gain depth to the strong guard. Snap your chin to your inside shoulder and look for inside pursuit, hugging the wall formed by the down blocks. It is very important to gain the same depth of the strong guard and to look inside for linebacker pursuit. For fast pursueing teams, you may have to kick out a fast scraping linebacker.
Quick Tackle: Stove Pipe. Step play side sealing your play side gap from the Will linebacker. If he does not blitz, then continue on your path looking to trap or kick the safety over the hole. Protect the running back from pursuit if he decides to cut back.
Halfback: Receive ball from quarterback, then look for your quick guard. Strive to get an arms length from his hip. Get ready to pound your feet and make a 90 degree cut towards the line of scrimmage. When you hear the pads “click” from the guards block, burst through the hole hard. If the quick guard blocks inside, then cut outside. If the quick guard has to kick out, then cut inside and wind the play back.
Quarterback: Secure ball and stretch it back towards the halfback to make a long ride. Read the end man on the line of scrimmage. If he chases the play, pull the ball and run. If the quick side linebacker is scraping out side, cut up inside of him. If this linebacker is consistently scraping outside to guard against the QB Keep, then we have an advantage with the bucksweep play, and we have a good cutback lane for our halfback. If this happens we will generally have the quick tackle block the end man on the line of scrimmage.. If there is a 3-technique on the quick side we will make a “steal” call. Which means the quick tackle will block the end man on the line of scrimmage and the Quarterback will read the 3-technique. If the 3-technique chases, the quarter back will pull the ball and attack the inside gap vacated by the 3-technique. The Bandit linebacker had better be chasing our guards, so we have found that he generally does not sit in the hole waiting for the quarterback. If we are concerned about the linebacker sitting, we will get into our twins look to spread him out.
If the Bandit linebacker does not reduce out with our twins look we will throw the bubble screen to him. This is a sight adjustment with our QB. The twin receivers will always run a bubble screen to their side. The QB need to signal only the halfback, everyone else runs the bucksweep. The halfback needs to adjust his path slightly in order to get out of the way of the quick throw. The twins set is especially effective if you run the wing to the boundary and the twins to the field.
The shotgun bucksweep play has been very productive for us. It has opened up our running and passing game. The waggle out of the spread look is very effective as well. I would like to thank our two line coaches: Reg Hageman and Greg Leidle for contributing to this article.