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By Mike Kuchar, Lead Research Manager, X&O Labs



The buck sweep has become a staple for many offenses. Find out how you can slow it down from multiple coaches who have years of experience against it. Read more here...

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


Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com special report on “Defending Unconventional Offenses.”


Defending Buck Sweep:


Reader Responses:

“We will start with a twist with the 7-technique and the strong side linebacker in our four-down front. The defensive end is to rip through the outside shoulder of the tight end with a quick, short step of his outside foot and then he steps through with his inside leg and inside arm to the outside shoulder of the TE (a rock technique). We normally run this tech with DTs to the left or right from a 2- or 2i-tech on the guard, but it can also be run with a 7-technique to his outside at the outside shoulder of the tight end. We stress to them to not avoid contact with the tight end. In fact, we would rather he make contact with the tight end’s outside shoulder with his inside shoulder. With a 3-technique to that same side, who usually draws a down block by the offensive tackle, it can open the C gap for the outside linebacker. The outside linebacker will fire hard to C gap from his alignment over the wing. We usually play Cover 2 to that side, so the corner will have pitch, toss, etc. The strong safety aligns over the tight end at eight yards depth and has deep half on pass and alley fill on run to his side.”

“Attack the inside shoulder of the wing with outside linebacker. If not blocked by the wing, squeeze and burst into the inside leg of the pulling guard to make the runner bounce deep and wide.”

“The main concept we have worked is the outside linebacker on the wing must get his hands on the wing to prevent a clean release onto the MLB. Then the outside linebacker must be prepared to take on the pulling guard on the line of scrimmage keeping outside leverage and force the ball carrier back inside.”

“We have had success defending Buck Sweep by attacking the pulling guard with the strong safety. When he reads the Wing blocking down inside, the strong safety will attack the inside shoulder of the pulling guard forcing the ball even deeper. The aggressive play of the 6-technique defensive end should have already forced the play deeper than intended.”

“Against two backs (1 and 9 formation), we will play what we call a Cage front where we will play with a 6-technique on the tight end, a 4i on the strong side tackle, a 1-technique and 5-technique to the weak side. We run directions from there. We slant the 1/5 and the linebackers compensate. We will cross face the center with the 1-technique and we’ll cross face with the 5-technique. If you’re a sweep team, you’re in trouble because they will run it down. We have two guys in the backfield right now. Nobody can block that cross facing tackle.”

“Our linebackers on the sweep side know that defending the sweep is their main job and if motion or formation dictates sweep is coming we blow it up and rely on safety and back side help to clean up any counters or traps.”

“We call it an ‘S’ stunt, which is a Sam linebacker stunt from the Under front. Our 5-technique stunts into the B gap, and the shade tackle slams the A gap. The Sam stunts through C gap. The Sam hopes tight end tries to block down on 5-technique. If this happens, the Sam will get a run through.”

“Bringing our 4x2 CB outside the wing to stop the strong-side HB Sweep plays.”

“We two gap the strong side guard (with our 2-technique tackle). The weak side guard, we play a 1-technique and force most teams to pull their center.”

“Out of our Bear look, we will send our Mike LB through one of the A gaps with the nose slanting opposite A gap and the 3-techniques keying the guards. This has caused a lot of disruption in the back field and throws off the timing of pulls and backfield action by the backs.”


“We use an overload blitz from wing side and gap exchange between defensive end and outside linebacker to the strong side.”

“Against a tight end/wing, we play a 9-technique defensive end and place our corner in a ‘hard’ alignment (3x4)outside the wing. He will read the block of the TE/Wing. When the Corner reads a down-down block, we are aggressively resetting the edge with our corner (where the wing's outside hip was pre-snap). As a bonus, resetting the line of scrimmage at the heels of the offensive line. This clutters the path of the second puller.”

“Will blitz wide-side CB if wing is near to pressure sweep.”

“We will send a backer into the C gap to help stop Buck Sweep.”

Below is how Kyle McCabe at De Pere High School (WI) defends the Buck Sweep from his four down front.


Below is how Anthony Jacks at B.B. Comer High School (AL) defends the Buck Sweep from his Under Front.


Here are Coach Jacks’ coaching points for playing his 0-5-3 Strong:

  • Playing this front allows us to really screw down on the traditional wing-t run game (Buck, Trap, Belly, Counter XX). We have 10 in the box when our CB and FS get their run reads.
  • The CB is keying the Wing. If he blocks down, the CB is coming to force right now, knowing the guard is coming.
  • If the FS reads the TE down block on the 5 tech, he is coming now and is fitting off the Sam.
  • The Nose is slanting to the strong side guard’s knee. If the C can block him one on one, we need a different nose guard. If not, we will line him up in the gap. He must demand a double team.
  • Mike and Will are keying the guards. If they get a down block, they are filling their gap. If they get a pull, they are yelling “pull” to their neighbor and following.

“Here (Slide 101), the wing and TE both block down, and our CB and FS spring to action. Both guards pull, so both our LBs should show up to the party. The Will must get over the top of the block of the Tackle. We should have the front side of the play squeezed off now, and the nose should be trailing from behind. We have 7 at the point of attack to their 6. You cannot let them get the numbers advantage.”


Jacks goes on to explain that “one difficulty of the bucksweep is they ask their wing to block down on a bigger more physical LB or DE, which can be hard to do. Some teams will simply try to take the WB to the first backer inside and use the first pulling guard to kick the EMOL. We cannot allow that wing to come inside our Sam LB. If the wing tries that, our Sam must crush him.”




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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