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Stopping the Wing-T with an Okie 5-3.

Out in Bakersfield, CA, Highland H.S. has been doing it with the Okie 5-3

The Wing-T offense has been around for a long time and has become very popular in the San Joaquin Valley of California. In one recent season, seven opponents ran the Wing-T against us and I became obsessed with the problem of defensing them.

I wanted to stop the offense's best plays and force them to go to something they hadn't practiced as much.

The ultimate solution was the Okie 5-3 defense. With five men on the line of scrimmage at all times, we made the offensive five linemen accountable for them at every snap of the ball, letting our linebackers flow to the ball without being easily picked up by linemen.

As you can see in the accompanying diagrams, we aligned our weak defensive end over the imaginary right end and put our strong end head up on the wingback.

Our tackles went head up against the offensive tackles and our nose man set head on the opposing center.

We stacked our three linebackers behind our tackles and nose guard.

Our corner on the split-end side aligned head up on the offensive end, 5 to 10 yards off the ball, depending on his and the end's speed.

Our free safety aligned 12 to 14 yards off the ball, splitting the wingback and split end.

Our defensive linemen could present many different alignments - Okie, eagle, double eagle, gap, over, and under.

Diag. 1 shows how we defense the run with our 53 Okie.

Our tackles take the B-gap and the nose guard takes the A-gap at all times, though sometimes, because of the nose guard's alignment, we will give up one A-gap.

If an offensive lineman tries to pull across the tackle's face, our tackle must knock him off-track and flatten into his intended path. If a lineman is pulling away from him, the tackle must try to get into his hip pocket and follow him.

Our linemen are also equipped with a variety of stunts to keep the offensive linemen honest.

Our ends must keep everything inside of them. They must never get hooked or penetrate more than one yard into the backfield. They must compress any kick-out, counter, or trap blocks.

The defensive ends and tackles also have some crossing stunts with which to change responsibilities to create blocking assignment problems.


Our outside backers have the same responsibilities (C-gap). They must read the wingback if he is on their side. If he's on the opposite side, they read the near halfback. If the wingback (or near halfback) attacks them they must attack his outside shoulder and try to fill the C-gap with both of their bodies. They must also be aware that the C-gap could be getting larger, depending on how the defensive end is being blocked [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 2 OMITTED].

If the wingback goes away, the linebacker must cross-read-find the wingback (or back) on the other side of the formation. If he is going away as well, the linebacker must slow-play and pursue, looking for the cut back.

If the far back is coming his way, the linebacker must step up into the C-gap. Check the strong LB in Diag. 3. Stepping up into the gap will prevent the linebacker from being blocked by any backside lineman. The linebackers must keep an inside-out angle on all ball-carriers.

The middle linebacker has the fullback. He must be able to take him on and out of the game. We equip the MLB and the nose with a nose plug stunt in which each player has an A-gap and is responsible for the fullback if he comes to their side.

Secondary Backs

The secondary is primarily in a cover three. The corners are in their glide at the snap and back-pedal until they are sure that the ball has passed the LOS.

The free safety does the same as the corners, except that he mirrors the QB while doing his back-pedal, as shown in Diag. 4.

The corners' run support comes from the outside, trying to force the ball inside.

The free safety pursues the ball from the inside-out position.

The defensive responsibilities against the play-action pass are shown in Diag. 5.

The linemen carry out their run responsibilities, then take a pass-rush lane to the QB. The tackles must try to get to the QB's outside shoulder. The nose stays as close to head-up on the QB as possible.

The defensive ends carry out their run responsibilities as shown. They also rush the QB, but at a flatter angle. They cannot get beat outside.

The middle linebacker has the fullback. If the ball is faked to him, the MLB must tackle him. If the fake is poor, the MLB must not let the FB run out into the route untouched. He must hit the fullback and force him to go inside, then get a good man-to-man position on him.

The weak backer honors the run, then drops into the deep flat area looking for the tight end or any other receiver coming into his area. He cannot get too wide quickly.

The strong backer honors the run, then drops into the deep middle hook-curl zone.

The weak-side corner will glide, then back-pedal and stay in his deep third. He must understand that the split end is not the only receiver that can go deep into his area.

The strong-side corner will glide, then back-pedal and stay in his deep third coverage. He must be aware that his third is wider because of the boot action by the QB. He must be as deep as the deepest receiver in his zone, but be able to split the two receivers that are in his zone.

The free safety uses the same footwork as the corners. He must take care of the deep third. His third is larger than the weak-side corner's third, but smaller than the strong-side corner's third. He must mirror the QB and stay as deep as the deepest receiver in all three zones.
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Title Annotation:football
Author:Willis, Danny
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Sep 1, 1999
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