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vwingtBy Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs


Discover how defensive coaches across the country are adapting their defenses to stop common Wing T Plays / Surfaces.

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar



The following research was conducted in part of XandOLabs.com special report on “Defending Unconventional Offenses.”

Aligning to the Tight End/Wing Surface:

Regardless of the offensive scheme, the tight end/wing surface can present a structural problem in a defense because not only does it provide for an extra gap (much like four-surface), but the wing off the ball can provide for an extra gap on either side of the line of scrimmage as well as a possible threat in the pass game. These formations are prevalent in Wing T, Single Wing and Double Wing offenses and a plan must be in place to defend it. It is these surfaces that Wing T teams prefer to run the buck sweep concept.

7-Technique Shade

According to our research, 29 percent of coaches will align to a tight end/wing with a 7-technique with a walkup linebacker/safety as the D gap player (Slide 24). In this instance, the defensive end will play the C-gap while the outside linebacker will play the D gap. Since that defensive end may be the most pivotal defender against these offenses, because he is responsible for he C (off-tackle) gap, we wanted to present our findings for each possible scenario.



Coach Hovorka at Baldwin High School (NY) will put his best defensive lineman on the tight end/wing against Wing T teams, even if it’s a defensive tackle in nature. “We just felt we needed to control that C gap against Buck sweep, Power and down,” said Hovorka. “Having the bigger kid there helped us. We told him to get both hands on the tight end unless he arcs. If he arc releases, we play whatever is coming at him just the same way as if he were a defensive tackle playing trap. If the player got a double team from the wing, he was already coached on how to play that being a 3-technique or a nose. If the tight end went to block down, the player would not let him. This kept our play side inside backer free to make plays.”

To see various examples of a 7-technique against a Tight End/Wing surface, click on the link below:

Coach Greco at Cassadaga/Falconer High School (PA) will first make a decision based on personnel whether or not his defensive end can handle the tight end. “If he can handle the tight end, he can also help on wide runs,” said Greco. “If he cannot handle the tight end, then we will line him up in a 3-point stance as a 7-technique and angle down to spill anything in C gap.” The outside linebacker is key to forcing everything at him to the inside allowing for his teammates to fill inside out. When flow goes away, the outside linebacker must check for counter and cutback. We seldom stunt vs. this formation because their rules of no splits and blocking down don’t leave a hole to stunt through.”

Head Up Technique (Slide 25):

Another option is to put the defensive end head up the tight end just to “bully” him to prevent him from down blocking to the inside linebacker. This is something that John Peluso at Hoboken High School (NJ) will do with his defensive ends. “We play with a 6-technique,” said Peluso. “We never play a 9-technique and we never play with a 7-technique. We tell him we want him to be a 6-technique, but he needs to be C-gap heavy. We don’t want that tight end getting to the Mike, we will spill everything.” Coach Sheehan at Triton High School (NJ) will also use the same technique. “One of our biggest weapons recently has been to bully the tight end by playing an 8-technique (head up shade),” said Sheehan. “It forces the wing to block down on him giving a great read to our Bear (play side linebacker).”


To see cutups of a head-up technique against Tight End/Wing Surfaces, click on the video below:

Outside Shades on Tight End (Slide 26)

According to our research, 21 percent of coaches tend to put their defensive end in a 9-technique (outside shade) on tight end/wing surfaces.


James Eaves at Perry High School is one of those coaches. Eaves calls his outside linebackers in his 4-4 scheme a Stud and Whip who play 1x1 off the wing and he details their reactions off Wing T blocking schemes below:


To see cutups of a outside technique against Tight End/Wing Surfaces, click on the video below:


Defending the Run Game of
Unconventional Offenses

The Most Effective Practices In Defending Run Concepts in Wing T, Double Wing and Single Wing Offenses

X&O Labs releases 2-hours of video detailing how to stop the Wing T, Single Wing and Double Wing offenses.

FACT: 61 percent of coaches will have to defend either a Wing T, Double Wing or Single Wing offense at least once next season. Of these coaches, 33 percent will see these schemes between three and four times next Fall.

It's true these structures seem as if they've been around for centuries, but trust us, they aren't going away anytime soon.

Which brings us to the single most important finding in our latest research project...

Don't Wait Until Game Week to Prepare for
Wing T, Double Wing, and Single Wing Offenses

Our researchers discovered 72 percent of coaches will change what they do defensively to prepare for these offenses... and August is too late to do that.

As one defensive coordinator told us, "you need to prepare one day per week in the summer just to give your team a chance." Every game counts and to let one slip away because you didn't do your homework this off-season is inexcusable.

This is why the researchers at X&O Labs have just released our latest special research report, Defending the Run Game of Unconventional Offenses.

This brand-new study takes you and your defensive staff inside those programs that have optimized their schemes, preparation time, practice planning and teaching methods to flat-out stop the Wing T, Double Wing and Single Wing Offenses.

Plus, our researchers received unlimited access with an elite group of Wing T, Single Wing and Double Wing offensive coaches and discovered how they would defend their own offenses and what causes them the most problems when running the football.

The Defending the Run Game of Unconventional Offenses special report is broken down into three cases:

  • Case One: Front Structures and Line Play
  • Case Two: Second and Third Level Player Reads/Coverages
  • Case Three: Movements and Pressures to Attack Run Concepts

Plus, this special report includes over 2-hours of game film and instructional videos.

Whether you've been defending the Wing T, Single Wing or Double Wing offenses for years or you'll see them for the first time next Fall, the Defending the Run Game of Unconventional Offenses special report is your best off-season resource for maximizing defensive production.

We've placed the entire Defending the Run Game of Unconventional Offenses special report in our Insiders membership website.

Don't wait until game week to start preparing for these offenses. Use the Defending the Run Game of Unconventional Offenses to prepare this off-season so you can shutdown Wing T, Single Wing and Double Wing offenses next fall...

Here's a quick look at what you'll find in this powerful special report from X&O Labs.

Case 1: Front Structures and Line Play

Ask any coach who runs (or defends) Wing T, Single Wing and Double Wing offenses and he will tell you that success rides or falls on the defensive line, which is why we started our research here. When we talked to these defensive coaches specifically on how they were successful (our research centered on defensive coaches who had success against these offenses), all of them credited the success of their defensive line.

So in this case, we are going to provide our research on how coaches prepare their defensive linemen on recognizing the blocking schemes of these offenses. More importantly, it details how hand placement and block recognition contribute to success along the front. These offenses are based on deception and one false step could mean one big play.

This section will present the most effective fronts you need to be in and the types of techniques necessary to better defend the run concepts presented in these offensive schemes.

Some of what we uncovered in this case includes:

  • Why defensive line coaches, even those that run four-down fronts, are preaching separation from the line of scrimmage when defending these offenses.
  • Why you need to change your personnel grouping when defending Double Wing and Single Wing offenses.
  • Why the majority of coaches, 41 percent, choose to use five down fronts when defending the Wing T offense.
  • How coaches like William Mitchell at Lewisville High School (SC) use an Odd Stack base, but will morph into a six-man front without changing personnel.
  • How the Bear front can be effective against both inside and outside run concepts in the Wing T.
  • Why one Wing T coach told us a three-linebacker structure can alter the blocking schemes of his offense.
  • Why, according to one Wing T coach, covering up the tackles may be more important than covering up the guards.
  • The technique behind "cutting the front" of Single Wing teams and how this simple concept can limit some major gains offensively.
  • How widening your defensive ends as "box" players against the Double Wing can be beneficially against gap schemes.
  • How coaches are finding other ways than slanting to get post-snap movement against the tight splits of Double Wing offensive lines.
  • What Single Wing coaches said were the best pre-snap key, which gives you the best post-snap key (and it's not the sniffer back).
  • Why 64 percent of defensive coaches choose to bump their first level players when defending unbalanced offensive lines, and why Single Wing coaches told us that's the worst thing you can do.
  • A detailed analysis of the five best practices of defending a tight end/wing formation.

Case 2: Second and Third Level Player Reads and Coverages.

It is without question that second and third level post-snap reads need to be sharp when defending these offenses. One false step can equal one big play, which is why we wanted to devote an entire case study on how coaches are teaching their defenders to react to defend the run game of these teams. Regardless of the defensive scheme, we wanted to ask coaches what they were telling their box defenders to read post-snap and which coverages are most practical against these offenses.

Some of what we uncovered in this case includes:

  • While the guard reads may still be the most popular methodology of dissecting the gun game of these offenses, they may not be the most effective.
  • How the tight side guard, and even the center may be the most productive pre-snap key in defending the Wing T run game.
  • Why defensive coaches are now teaching more flow reads than player reads.
  • How two-box defenses (like the odd front and 4-2-5) will differ in pre-snap reads from three-box defenses (like the 4-3 and odd stack).
  • How cross-keying backs may not be as effective against newer, hybrid-type Wing T offensive structures.
  • Why some Wing T and Double Wing coaches are saying Defensive coaches need to have each linebacker read a different pre-snap key.
  • How Single Wing coaches are watching how you're reacting to their keys and falsifying their schemes just to draw you off.
  • Why most coaches are using split field coverages to defend the Wing T, particularly to tight end/wing sets and which coverages to use.
  • How Quarters coverage could be a good answer to offenses reliant on the Jet Sweep (Fly Sweep) game.
  • Why some Wing T coaches told us a "good cover two" team may make it extremely difficult for them to run the ball.

Case 3: Post-Snap Pressures and Movement to Attack Run Concepts.

A solid technique up front and sound coverage can prove beneficial in defending these offenses, but there will come a time when you'll need to pressure these offenses to get them behind the sticks and behind their game. And while 49 percent of coaches choose not to move their front pre-snap, we researched the other half of our contributor pool on not only why they pressure, but how they pressure specific run concepts in these offenses. We even took it one step further in asking these offensive coaches which types of movements most affected each of their run game concepts.

Some of what we uncovered in this case includes:

  • The 6 most common post-snap movements used by 4-2-5 defensive coaches.
  • The situations where slanting to pre-snap motion helps you and the circumstances where it may hurt you.
  • A Wing T coach's perspective on slants, pinches and loops... and when to use each.
  • Which pressures from an eight-man front can prove to be dynamic against the Wing T and Double Wing run game.
  • How stemming your front pre-snap can prove to be effective in confusing the rules of these offenses.
  • Why some Single Wing coaches told us that it's smart not to bring pressure, unless you bring it here...
  • 32 proven methods to defend the core Wing T and Double Wing run concepts including Buck Sweep, Trap, Belly and Counter.
  • How Wing T and Double Wing coaches told us to best defend Trap, Buck Sweep, Belly, Down and Counter schemes.
  • 11 proven methods to defend the core Single Wing run concepts including Super Power, Counter, Toss and Sweep. How Single Wing coaches told us to best defend Super Power, Counter, Toss and Sweep.

Your Invitation: I want to take this time to invite you to get instant access to this entire special report because it is full of all the information, research and strategies you need to significantly improve your defense against Wing T, Single Wing and Double Wing offenses.

We've released the entire Defending the Run Game of Unconventional Offenses Study on our exclusive membership website - Insiders.

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Unconventional Offenses Study
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