In the Wing-T offense, arguably the best concept is the buck series. I’m going to cover the 3 main buck series plays, but let’s start with the bread and butter, the bucksweep. What makes the Wing-T offense’s bucksweep play so lethal are the 2 other constraint plays, buck trap and the waggle pass. But regardless, for many teams, the bucksweep is the explosive play they like to run the most.
I’ll start with the traditional bucksweep, then we’ll cover the enhancements my high school coach in my senior year showed us, which really let our wing-t offense explode.
Wing-T Offense: Bucksweep Basics
Bucksweep is a pin and pull concept. The goal is simple, pin the defense inside and pull to the perimeter with the guards. When coupled with the buck trap play, which looks nearly identical (including guards pulling and backfield action), it becomes tough to stop.To get the pins in the Wing-T offense’s bucksweep, the offense typically needs a player outside the offensive EMOLOS (end man on the line of scrimmage) that can help pin the defensive EMOLOS. Usually, this is a wing, though some teams will use the offset back in the backfield to accomplish this.
Now, to the playside, everyone, including the wing or lead back, are responsible for their inside gap. If there is no one in their inside gap, they should combo block with their playside teammate to the linebacker level. Some teams have these combo’s work to the backside backer, because a guard should be pulling playside. However, if a team runs buck trap well, they should be able to get to the playside linebacker. If they do this, and the other linebacker steps down pursuing buck trap, you can get linebackers and other backside defenders caught in the wash.
For the center and the backside tackle, they are reaching anything in their playside gap, then they block their backside gap threat if he can make the tackle in the backfield. If he cannot, they should rotate up to the next level. So that means the they need to cut off players in their playside gap, and the center should block back on a backside nose tackle, because he might disrupt the QB. However, the backside tackle should make sure their is nothing in the B gap, then make sure the end isn’t on an B gap charge (he could use the butt block if he is, if he can’t block him with a one hand punch), and if neither occurs, he should work downfield for a “touchdown” block (aka, big guy on a little safety or backside LB).
Wing-T Offense: Bucksweep Guards
Both guards are excluded from the above rules. The reason the Wing-T puts a premium on undersized guards that are physical is so they can trap block and make it to linebackers. Both the playside guard and backside guard pull on bucksweep. The backside guard should get more depth, so his technique is a little different. He needs to get depth to prevent getting caught in the wash. He also needs a little time to read the playside guards block (log or kickout) on the force player.
The backside guard should also keep his eyes inside immediately in-case of run through from a linebacker.
Wing-T Offense: Bucksweep Backfield Action
In the backfield on bucksweep, the back directly behind the QB, who I will call the fullback, is responsible for faking the trap. He should step backside and immediately come down hill. He should give a big pocket for the QB to fake into, and he should close his arms upon the passing the QB.
The fullback should then aim for the backside A gap, and block the first defender who he encounters. If he doesn’t encounter anyone, he should pursue the backside inside linebacker to the best of his ability. This also gives the illusion that it is a trap play, because the path will not be robotic.
The halfback, or back aligned just outside the guard and next to the fullback, will take a counter step. Depending on the speed of the guards and the speed of the half-back, this may not exist, or it may be exaggerated. He should go take the handoff, elbowing the QB in the mouth so to speak, and pursue until he gets to the Wing’s alignment on the playside, or the natural crease outside the tight end. He should immediately cut up the field, with minimally wasted steps. We want linebackers, who hopefully are trying to catchup with the play after the bucktrap play, to be running with their shoulders turned or, in the least, over pursuing because of the look of the back and his shoulders going towards the side line.
The QB should open up towards the play to 6 o’clock if possible. He should stay on the midline. How you do the fake to the fullback is up to you, but I feel like an open hand fake usually works, but you can have the QB switch ball hands. He should carry the ball near his belly button with both hands until the fake to the fullback. He should the begin to break to the backside of the play, and hand the ball off to the halfback as he turns. He should fake like he has the ball in his hip pocket after handing off, and should get his eyes on the backside edge defender to help freeze him.
Wing-T Offense: Bucksweep Tackle Pull
One innovation my high school coach my senior year implemented was the tackle pulling if his inside gap was free. The idea was based around the fact that even though the tackle was our biggest linemen at 6’2″, 260lbs was at right tackle (yours truly – and that 6’2″ comes from our roster that year), and the other was a little smaller but still nearly that big at left tackle, that they should be quick enough to get around a short edge.
I liked it as player because I got to clobber some kid. No team by us had done bucksweep that way in the Wing-T offense, so this innovation really was unique.
The rule is that the playside tackle, if he has a tight end next to him, pulls if his inside gap is clear, instead of combo blocking through. The backside guard would have to be even more sure about penetration without the combo block to catch run through, but it really opened up the play a lot. It essentially turned into student body left and student body right.
If the inside gap was filled, or if he didn’t have tight end, he blocked down or through to the second level, depending on the defense’s alignment.
Overall, I like this Wing-T offense enhancement. I think it takes two of the best elements of the Wing-T, speed and angles, and uses them in a new and exciting way.
I think at the end of the year, our backs averaged 12.6 ypc on Bucksweep based on my calculations back then. It was “only” 8.7 versus teams that forced the tackle to stay in and block down. So, one of two things, the tackles were awesome (which wasn’t the case, I was good but definitely not awesome), or the play really was difficult to defend, which it most definitely was.
Overall, however you run the Wing-T offense’s bucksweep, or just run it out of another style of offense, it’s a great play for stretching the defense horizontally and then vertically in the running game. It’s a play of angle’s and deception, and if you have an inside play, whether it’s bucktrap or something else in another offense, it can be truly a lethal combination, especially when you add a playaction pass like the Waggle pass. Regardless, I’ll be writing more Wing-T offense posts in the near future on subjects like bucksweep, buck trap, etc… so stay tuned!