Empty Buck Sweep Package

Mar 12, 2018 | Offense, Run Game, Pin and Pull Run Concepts

Chris Parker
Head Football Coach
Pickens High School (GA)
Twitter: @PickensFootball 



As a team, we run a lot of empty formations. We have made a commitment to do this for the following reasons: 

  • Simplifies the defense 

  • Forces adjustments 

  • Get 5 receivers out quickly. This forces the defense to be aware of 5 vertical threats and 5 horizontal threats on each play.  

  • The defense likely has limited experience against empty. 

  • We can run all the same running plays as we can in 10 pp if the QB can run. 

  • It is easier to recognize coverage. 

  • It creates spacing and easier recognized matchups for lineman and receivers. 

Every plan has some weaknesses. The biggest detriment to any Empty schemes is the inability to run the ball physically and conventionally. Jet Sweeps and QB runs have been good plays for us, but we needed more. We decided to lean on our Wing T roots and to marry some of our old Wing-T concepts into our empty package. We started by taking our base empty formation and moving the inside receiver positions to a “wing” alignment on some formations. At that point, the empty Buck Sweep became a staple of our offense. 

Our Base Empty Wing Formations 

These formations allow us to still have 5 receivers in the formation but also use the Wings as blockers or runners in a more physical, “Wing-T” look.  


Diagram 1 is our basic formation. This is just like our traditional empty formation but the inside receivers are aligned as wings. This gives us the ability to use them as blockers, runners, or receivers.   


Diagram 2 is our basic formation with a TE. This allows us to have tight side and split side plays and forces the defense to defend and cover the TE.  

Empty Buck Sweep 

While we have many plays and concepts we use in this formation, one of our best plays is the Buck Sweep. This play has been very successful for us in the past few years. We are able to run the buck to either side since there are wings on both sides. We are able to read the backside and throw the pop concept.  


In diagram 3, we are running toward the strength of the formation and the isolated X receiver has the pop. In diagram 4, we are running Buck weak with the double pop read away.  


  • The QB will handoff on Buck or throw the pop. 

  • The Buck handoff happens by catching the snap and placing the ball directly in front of himself. The RB will receive the ball running parallel to the line of scrimmage.   

  • The read is the backside ILB and/or the grass for the pop. If the backside ILB is chasing the play, pull the ball and find the voided area for the pop. If there are multiple receivers on the pop side, they will all be running the slant and QB can read inside/out. 

  • If the QB is unsure, he needs to handoff on Buck run.   


The wingbacks will block down if they are on the called side and be the ball carrier if they are on the backside on the play call.  

The blocking wing will block down on the DE. This can be a tough block. The key is to have a great get-off. The back should put his weight on his outside leg and push off that leg and throw himself into the defender. Once engaged the defender, he must run his feet the entire play. If the DE disappears, he should elevate to the 2nd level and find a linebacker to wall off.   

The ball carrier can get the ball with or without motion. It depends on how quick the ball carrier can get the ball after the snap. He should run flat in front of the quarterback receiving the ball like a jet sweep runner. After he gets the ball, he should read the play side guard’s block. The play side guard is attempting to kick the flank defender. If he kicks, the back should stick his foot in the ground and push vertical to catch the backside guard that will be wrapping in the hole. If the play side guard has to log the flank defender, then the back should bounce the play wid