Defending the Double Wing: Trials and Tribulations
I want to discuss some fine points we, as a staff and team, focused on when facing the Double Wing.
1. Our first priority, like usual, was aligning properly. The weeks prior to our match-up with the DW opponent, they revealed a number of interesting formations and change ups to their foot-to-foot, traditional 2-TE, 2-Wing look. They came out in the “Beast” package a few times (we’ll get into that later) and various spread formations. They had little success utilizing those formations in the preseason, but it was still important that we be able to line up and defend their favorite plays out of those formations.
An important point I have to make is this: do not do anything drastic to stop ANY particular offense. If you’re a 4-3 team, don’t all of a sudden become a 3-4 team, and vice versa. Be you. You will only slow your players down, which is the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman.
We stayed in our 3-4 look. 5-0-5 up front. We played 2 9-techniques, but in our 3-4, those 9-techs are outside linebackers. What we did was put our two strongest defensive linemen there. Here’s why:
2. Stop…errrr…contain “POWER.” This is the “their” play. It’s arguably one of the best plays in all of football. They ran it a total of 31 times against us. In my research of the Double Wing, I heard about the famous “Power Hour” where DW teams will run Power and only Power against 11-22 defenders. They want their players to believe in it. They want their players to feel confident in it. They want their players to believe that the only way to stop it is to play with extra players on defense. Don’t always spill power, don’t always contain power. We didn’t blitz at all, but we did change up what our 9-techs were doing.
They did not gain more than 8 yards on a single Power running play against us, but…
3. …be prepared to play 4 downs on every possession…regardless of field position. If it’s 4th and one from their own 20, they’re going for it. Therefore,
4. You must win 1st down! This is our philosophy against any opponent, but it’s particularly important against running teams, such as those that utilize the Double Wing, Wing-T, etc. However,
5. your secondary must be pass first, run support players second. We gave up 21 points as a defense. 7 came with 30 seconds left in the game on 3rd and 21 from their own 40 yard line. Granted, we did miss 3 tackles on the game winning (losing?) touchdown, but we bit on playaction. Discipline is key all the way around. We got a heavy dose of Power and Power Pass sprinkled in. They completed 3 out of their 12 passes: 2 short (less than 10 yards) and the one bomb that won the game.
6. We were easily (EASILY) the physically superior team. Your entire team must be in-sync when playing a DW team. We gave up a touchdown on a punt return. Our offense ran 12 offensive plays in 3 possessions in the first half. The time of possession numbers were 3-1 in their favor.
These are some factors that you must be ready for. 3 and outs will not help you against any one, but particularly against an opponent whose philosophy is serious ball control.