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Packaging the Delaware Wing-T against the Shade 4-3.

Down through the years, the basic principles of the Delaware Wing-T have given it the ability to adjust to various defensive trends. This includes the Shade 4.3 defense, currently being utilized at all levels of interscholastic and intercollegiate football across the country.

The Shade 4-3 has created assignment problems for the offense at the TE/Wing flank. The conflict is created by the alignment of the Sam LB at the 2 or 8 hole.

The problem has forced the offense to look back to one of its original criteria in establishing a primary run-game attack: that is, to find the individuals in the defensive scheme who have multiple responsibilities, then confuse and frustrate them by attacking those responsibilities with both the run game and the complementary pass game.

DIAG. 1, "187 X" CROSS -BLOCK:

The "187 X" Cross-Block shows the initial base run play that is primary against the 4-3 scheme.

The first defensive player with dual responsibility is the DE to the spread side. The motion halfback's ability to log the DE coupled with the DE's responsibility to contain the QB will assist the left guard (6 man) in his blocking assignment.

Further analysis of the defense reveals how involved the Will LB becomes in defending this play. If he reacts aggressively, he will make the 4-3 scheme susceptible on the flank.

DIAG. 2, "134 COUNTER":

The third defensive player who has to be examined is the Mac LB. If he proves overly aggressive with flow and in filling the "B" gap to the spread-end side, he will make himself susceptible to the next step in the play-calling progression.

The DE to the spread-end side is once again confronted with a motion halfback, who is influencing him with his ability to log the flank. The DE can be further influenced by the QB'S action in attacking the corner.

This flow makes the DE susceptible to the fullback who is blocking the left guard/left tackle gap (6/7 seam).

The Will LB will also be influenced by the QB's play-action fake on the flank. The key element in the play is to observe the Mac LB over-reacting to flow and "187 X." While the tackle trap is significant, it's Mac's determination to stop "187 X" that is critical when deciding whether to run this play.


The reactions of Mac and Will are the critical elements in electing to run "134 Counter Short." Mac's reaction against "134 Counter" will indicate whether it's time to consider calling this play.

The analysis should also include the reaction of Will. Once Will begins to take on the responsibility of containing the QB, he makes the defense vulnerable to "134 Counter Short."

Again, an over-aggressive Mac against "134 Counter" will help the fullback execute his assignment. The DE's alignment coupled with the motion halfback's ability to log the flank, will assist the left guard (6 man) with his assignment.

The center's (5 man) rule and technique is critical in the left tackle's (7 man) quick trap of the DT to the spread side.


When Will becomes involved in defending "134 Counter Short," the next step in the progression is to attack the flank with a QB run/pass option in "134 Counter Bootleg Pass."

A key assignment is the motion halfback's responsibility in securing the flank with his log block on the DE.

Once the corner is secured and Will has been attracted by the success of "Counter Short," the defensive player with dual responsibility becomes a secondary defender. He will have to defend either the flat route by the fullback or the run option of the QB.

It is imperative for the QB to properly set up "134 Counter Bootleg Pass." In all of the previous plays in this package, the QB has to attack the flank aggressively.

His discipline in carrying out his play-action fakes will facilitate his reading of the defense and the progression of the play-calling.


As with any offense, it is essential to package the primary attack soundly and progressively. Regardless of the designed intent of the defense, the ability of the system to adapt and remain consistent makes the Delaware Wing-T a thing of beauty.

Hopefully, the ideas expressed in this article will help coaches defeat the 4-3 defensive scheme. But it must be understood that the players remain the single, most important element in any kind of system.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Coach Tubby Raymond and his football staff at the U. of Delaware for my past playing experience and my ever-expanding knowledge of the Delaware Wing-T, and to thank the players and coaches who contributed to the success of the Susquehanna University's Wing-T offense that I had the honor of coordinating from 1990 to 96.
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Author:Christodulu, Greg
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Feb 1, 1998
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