Shotgun Wing – T

Author: Pat Murphy

Welcome to the Shotgun Wing-T Main Page

  • NEW! The Belly Series Video and the Belly Series Part II. Check out the buy the video series tab on the right for more info or to watch the trailer.
  • NEW! All the videos have gone online! Watch on your computer or any mobile device. You now have the option to rent or buy.
  • From the Shotgun, the QB can read the Defensive line as the play is taking place. This adds a second component to any Wing-t play: the QB can pull the ball like an option. Also from the gun, you can add another WR so you can pair the play with a Bubble Screen component for the 3rd option. You just turned your favorite Wing-T play into a triple option! Find out how to do this within this website.
  • Find the Categories to the right.
  • You can explore the base run plays in the “Running Games” section.
  • Or if you want to add some passing concepts try clicking on the “Passing Games” section.
  • The “Videos From Past Clinics” link has some video footage of the Shotgun Wing-T from Clinics that Coach Murphy has spoken.
  • Finally if you want to install the Gun into your Wing-T offense, you can buy the video series, which has game footage, coaching points, and strategy so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

July 26, 2015     11 Comments

Fire Screen

Fire Screen

The Fire screen is a great play against the blitz. It fits the personnel of the wing-t well because the offensive line are used to pulling and kicking out. It is also a great play versus aggressive teams that like to get up field and disrupt. Because of this we will run the play on any down and distance. We like to run the fire screen to the one receiver side when the defense over shifts to our TE/Wing or when they roll to cover-3 to the TE side. The key to success of this play is timing and execution. The screen route by the receiver must be precise and unvaried. This is important so that the QB will know what to expect every time, and so that he can make a confident and accurate throw. The timing and execution of the offensive line must be precise and quick. They must know their assignment so there is no hesitation, and the play is run at full speed.

X Receiver: Responsibility: Catch ball then find the “Chute”. Inside

foot up. Step at a 45 degree angle with your left foot, take 2 more hard steps, planting on your outside foot and retrace your steps, coming back to the QB. By coming back to the QB, you make his throw easier. Also by retracing your steps, you bring the Cornerback to the HB who is looking to block him. You should be slightly behind the Line of Scrimmage when you catch the ball. Secure the ball, then look for the Quick Guards Block on the flat defender. Cut up inside of his block, then break for the sidelines. You will have a 4 yard “chute” you need to find. It starts just inside the QG’s block. Get to the chute and then break it outside.

HB: Responsibility: Corner. Aim for the numbers of the Cornerback. Your path will be flat, aim for 1 yard in front of where the X Receiver has aligned and get your head up into the hole. If Corner does not attack, then turn up and go get him. If the flat defender crosses your path, then you must block him. The QG will switch assignments with you.

QT: Responsibility: Defensive End. Kick set defender to get him up field. Engage him and ride him up the field past the quarterback. Get your hand on his hip to help accelerate his path. If he stunts inside of you, let him go and look for a scraping LB taking his place. Engage him and ride him up field.

QG: Responsibility: #2 or flat defender. Kick set defender to get him up field. Engage for a “one-thousand-one count then go attack the flat defender who should be sprinting towards the flats. Kick him out with your head up into the hole. He will be chasing the X receiver. If he sits in the flats then go up and get him. If HB blocks your man, then go find the corner.

Center: Responsibility: #3 defender. Kick set defender to get him up field. Engage him for a “one-thousand one” count. Find the #3 defender and block him inside and away from the Chute. In the 4-3 defense, the #3 defender will be the Mike LBer. Do not chase him, block your area which is just outside the Playside Tackle.

SG: Responsibility: Seal inside pursuit. Kick set defender to get him up field. Engage for a “one-thousand-one” count then go find work. Look for backside pursuit and seal them off from the chute. Block your area which will be Just outside the Playside Guard.

QB: Responsibility: Freeze #3 defender and make an accurate throw. Secure shot-gun snap and drop a quick 3-step. Freeze the #3 and backside LBers. This is done by looking them off, away from the play-side. Swing your shoulders back to the play-side and make an accurate throw to the receivers upfield shoulder. Lead him with your throw.

Coaching Points: Backside receivers should execute a route that will get the #3 defender (curl/hook defender on the strong side) in a bind. We will run the Turn route by the TE to get the #3 defender to drop to the 3-receiver side. Very important that the WR finds the chute, clears the chute, then breaks for the sideline.

June 3, 2015     0 Comments

Defeating Blitzes

Defeating the Blitz with shotgun wing-t

We get a lot of questions about the A-gap blitz or LBer run throughs. Will it shutdown the bucksweep and its complimentary plays? The answer is… only if you let it. We talk about this extensively in the video series. Running the wing-t from the shotgun, you do not have a fullback to fill for the pulling guards. But you have more options with formations and reads. We have been running the shotgun wing-t since 2005, in the last 7 years we have been to 6 state championships and a 33 game win streak. Teams have tried many different schemes, so we have seen literally every defense and blitz ever invented since then. We used to see the A-gap blitz a lot, but is not a magic blitz to stop the wing-t.

First a few words on blitzes: Blitzes work well on offenses that are not prepared for them. We spend a lot of time against blitzes and aggressive defenses. We draw up cards for our scout team that either blitzes into the play or shows the play so the defense can aggressively fill their gaps fast. This forces our offense to take perfect steps and play faster. By the end of the year, and into the playoffs we are running the bucksweep fast and there is nothing we have not seen as far as blitzes and fronts. If your offense’s first look at an aggressive defense is game time, then you are in trouble. Every offense must have one or two base plays that are their go to plays. You must be able to block these plays versus any defense and any stunt and be sound. Ours is usually bucksweep and trap. But this will vary depending on personnel. Some years our base plays are bucksweep and belly, some years it is bucksweep and jet sweep. The A-gap blitz can lead to a tackle for a loss, or a big play for the offense, we’ll explain later why the A-gap blitz is a bad idea against the bucksweep. The A-gap blitz can be effective, however, on our non-base plays like the criss-cross reverse and waggle because we don’t have the practice time to get great at those plays verses the blitz. We’ll explain later how we mitigate this threat. So from experience we have found that the A-gap blitz verses the bucksweep in not a good idea. It usually ends up a big play for the offense. The A-gap blitz verses the Criss-cross can be effective and can lead to a fumble. We do not like running the criss-cross against inside blitzes. We mitigate the blitz threat by running the play with a “No Play” tempo. The QB tries to get the defense to jump off sides if they don’t then they usually declare their blitz. This is covered in the video series… The waggle is good verses strong side blitzes but risky verses weak side A-gap blitzes, depending on the defensive front. With a mobile quarter back, however, you have a good chance of getting a big play. We have also found that the bucksweep fake on the waggle can act like a block, allowing our QB to get to the edge. So we will run the waggle against A-gap blitzing teams. We will also mitigate the threat of a weak side A-gap blitz by running our waggle with 2 WRs on the quick side and our TE/Wing to the other. This forces some defenses to reduce a LBer. If they don’t we either have man coverage or an open WR.

Back to the Bucksweep and the inside blitz:
First off, the bucksweep from the gun has 3 options to it, the bucksweep, the QB pull and the bubble screen. So there have been times when we have faced a blitz or an overload that I know we can’t block, only to have the QB pull or throw the bubble screen for a big gain. If we had run the same play under center, the defense would have blown up the play and we would have lost yardage. So with the bubble and the read options, we can limit to a certain extent what the defense can do.

We can use a multitude of formations that will cause the defense to be unsound if they choose to blitz. They can man up, but with our empty sets we have 5 eligible receivers at the line of scrimmage. They better have a sound cover scheme or risk a big play. The defense is now in the same situation the offense is in, we can risk running the criss cross reverse against the blitz and hope for a big play. Same thing the defense is now faced with, risk uncovering a receiver and hope for a big play. The payoff is now in the offenses favor. The big play the defense can get is a tackle for a 4 yard loss, the big play the offense can get is a 70 yard TD.

Defeating the A-gap blitz using the bucksweep
Here is why we like running the bucksweep versus A-gap blitzes. The inside LBers are 4 yards deep (minimum) and we are 4 yards deep. So we are 8 yards apart at the snap of the ball. Our HB has 3 yards to get to the mesh and another yard to get past the A gap and clear the LBer. The blitzing LB also has to avoid the QG who is pulling. So that’s why we don’t usually have problems with that. If we do we can get into some of our Empty packages (no backs, QB runs the bucksweep). Now, the Mike LBer is 8 yards from the QB at the snap of the ball and the QB has 1 yard to clear the A-gap. If the MLB makes the play then he is way better than you are and you are going to lose the game no matter what you run. What happens when you blitz the A-gaps on the bucksweep from the gun, is that you cause the offense to gain a blocker since we do not have to block the blitzing MLB.

If the MLB sneaks up to blitz the A-gap, then you have a problem and he will get to the mesh. That leads us to the blitz rule: If our Strong Guards sees his LB sneak up, he makes a “stay” call. He stays and blocks him. So essentially he exchanges assignments with the backside Guard. The QG will now kicks out the force. What this does is speed up the bucksweep for the offense and often leads to big plays. The HB does not have to slow down slightly for the QG to turn it up and look inside to block the MLB because he is already blocked. The QG kicks out and the HB can hit the hole quicker. (For a good look at the “stay” call go to Youtube and type in “shotgun wing-t” and there is a clip of this call on the video: “MCA clinic A”)
So we love running the bucksweep against the A-gap blitz. Now the defense has to decide is it worth running this blitz for a chance to blow up our Criss-Cross reverse play.

Other things we do against blitzing teams:
Also good for inside blitzes are empty sets. The plays are faster and it forces the defense to have sound coverages, since we have 5 eligible receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Another blitz beater is to run bunched wing sets and fake the criss cross reverse to the outside wing as the QB runs the bucksweep. It freezes the LBers or you can Wham block the blitzing LBer to give him something to think about…

We like the bucksweep power against inside blitz. From under center your SG stays and blocks and the FB kicks out the first threat past the wing. You can also run this from gun. Lots of ways to do it… We usually have a weakside wing go in motion to the strong side and kick out first threat past the strong side wing.

Screens are great versus A-gap blitz, especially the Fire or Tunnel screen. We found that the defender who makes the most tackles on our fire screen is one of the inside backers. If they stunt, it makes our job easier. (see the article on this web page for the fire screen)
We also will run the Dart play. We pull the QT and he climbs to block the Mike LBer. If he is blitzing, he gets kicked out like a trap and the play hits quick.

Flopping the TE and Wing can cause problems with the defense. Align them on one side, flop to the other and run your play. This messes with defenses that have a strong side or quick side blitz. Are they well schooled enough to make their Right/Left call and reverse their blitz, or will they just run it and turn their strong side blitz into a weak side blitz, and essentially limiting what blitz the coordinator wanted. Notice the Strong-side Inside LB is NOW the backside Inside LB in the following clip:

If they are kicking our butt blitzing and we are really stubborn and still want to run the bucksweep anyways, then we will run the bucksweep from the single wing. We put our two guards in the backfield. The two guards on the L.O.S. block down. The Guards in the Backfield pull. QB catches and runs bucksweep. This is very good against A-gap blitz.

We also run a lot of Tempo. We try to break the huddle and either snap the ball or put a man in motion within 4 seconds. This is great for teams that align Strong/Weak side, because they have to find the TE, recognize the formation, backfield, and then get set and remember the blitz and gap they are assigned, all within 4 seconds. This can be a challenge for the defense and can slow down the blitz and aggressiveness of the defense. This tempo is covered in the video series.

If after all of this, they can still effectively blitz the bucksweep series, then stop running the series and go to the Jet or Rocket, two very good blitz beaters. If they don’t get out of the blitz when you run the motion, you have an advantage, because you will not have to block the blitzers and they lose defenders that would normally be pursuing to the ball. If defenses are calling off their blitzes when you run jet or rocket motion, you now have another option if the blitzes are giving you problems. With the shotgun wing-t you can put a WR in Jet motion and run bucksweep, Criss-cross, or waggle.

We will also go into every game with a blitz beater pass as well. Most defenses have blitz tendencies like offenses have tendencies. We try to run the play during one of these tendencies. So chart the defense. Make note if they like to stunt from the wide side of the field or in certain down and distances, or field positions.

June 17, 2012     1 Comments

Widening the Gap in the Bucksweep

Widening the gap in the Bucksweep using the crack block.

One other way you can block the bucksweep from the gun is with a crack block by the wide receiver. We will generally do this when a team is consistently rolling a safety up on the TE/Wing side to out number us. The safety is not usually accustomed to playing a crack block so you gain an advantage. We like to run this to the short side of the field so it does not give away the crack block by the short alignment.

The only adjustment we make blocking wise is that the play will hit a little wider. The coaching point on the crack block is that if the flat defender is looking in the back field then get your head across and “step on his toes”, going for the big hit. If the defender is looking at you, then break down and “sit in the chair” and stalk block him. In the video below we get a log block on the OLB who is try to wrong arm the kickout block from the Strong Guard. Often, we get the down block from the wing on a 9-technique, the strong safety gets cracked and we end up kicking out the corner with the Strong Guard

For a complete study of the bucksweep from the gun check out the video “shotgun wing-t: the bucksweep and criss-cross reverse”. Navigate to it by clicking on the “Buy the video series” link.

March 20, 2011     3 Comments

Video cutups from past clinics

This video Is from a clinic talk on the bucksweep from the gun. It shows some of the reads the QB must make and the bubble screen option off the sweep. It also shows the bucksweep from an empty or “wildcat” set.

This is the second video from the same clinic talking about the crisscross reverse from the gun off the bucksweep action. It shows the crisscross off of various defenses and empty sets.

This is the 3rd video from the same clinic talking about the Waggle from the shotgun wing-t. Although we are blocking it different now.

This is the clinic video from the all-star clinic in 2010. It shows various plays we run from our shotgun wing-t empty sets.

February 13, 2011     0 Comments

The Bucksweep From the Gun

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.

Bucksweep from 100/900 formation

Bucksweep from 100/900 formation

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.