Install RPOs to a Shotgun Wing-T Offense

By Kenny Simpson, Southside High (Ark.)

I am a big believer in making the most out of every play we install on offense. To that end, I try to work adjustments, counters and, of course, my personal favorite, RPOs to each run play we work to install.

It is a fine balancing act that our staff attempts to work each season. We must be sure we are great at the base run concept or the RPO isn’t going to be very effective. Our offense bases from the Shotgun Wing-T. Most people that don’t want the stigma of Wing-T call it 21 personnel. We are able to form a culture that believes we can run our base run (buck sweep) against any opponent at any time.

The first goal we have is to become excellent in blocking buck sweep each season. It is the first play we work on and the play we will hang our hat on each game. While we work all the complements off of the play, we work hard to be able to teach the smallest details of how to block and run the buck sweep.

Here is our priority list when installing the buck.

  • Being meticulous in teaching the blocking angles of the guards

We want to be sure we rep over and over our strong guard pulling and attacking the inside shoulder of the first defender. While we do allow a “log” block at times, we want a mindset of blowing up the first defender. One of our favorite drills for this is the hurdle drill, where we will take large hurdles and give the correct angle to get the guard’s pad level low. We also teach to run through the block. We don’t like whiffing, but are ok with it if we are on our track.

Our quick guard must also take the correct path and move very quickly. We want his eyes “inside” at all times and we teach to not chase guys that may run outside of him. We want speed and again want him to run through the block.

  • Working with all ball-carriers to get as close to the pulling guard as possible

Our favorite drill is the “towel drill”. We will put a towel in the back of the shorts of the wrapping guard and force the running back to catch him and pull the towel running the ball. When not working this drill we teach putting a hand and guiding him into the block. Often times our back has actually pushed the guard into the block needed.

  • Teaching our other blockers angles for down blocks

Like most teams we teach Gap-Down-Backer for our playside. What we do that may be a little different is work steps for two types of defensive players. If we get an upfield defensive team, we teach the normal “head across the defender” first steps for our blockers. However, if we get what we term “headgear readers”, we will teach our blockers to step to almost the back hip of the defenders and work to turn their back to the sideline. We don’t want players shedding the block and falling in on the tackle.

  • Work the backfield action

While we will run the buck with our quarterback and jet motion, we start install with our quarterback and running back. We want the mesh-point to be clean so we teach aligning the running back’s heels on the quarterback’s toes. We also work with our backs on staying flat and finding the guard. This keeps them out of penetration and allows the guard to get into his path. It also sets up very clean for any RPO or read game you may build off the buck sweep.

Once we have established our base play, I want to marry as many screen and RPO concepts as possible. We generally work all off-season as a staff and come up with three screen concepts and three RPO concepts that we will put with every run we install. We also work with different ways to block from the TE and Wing position and different formations. Our goal is to get as much as possible from one base run play so that we can spend as much time as possible making it great.

Here is one of our simple RPO concepts that we call “Peak”:


All we are doing is reading the backside linebacker and throwing and inside release off his action. If he sits, we hand the ball off. If we see “his earhole”, we throw the window. The great part of this concept is we will run the same pass (“Peak”) off each run and off dropback. Again it gets maximum practice time with a simple concept.

If you have any questions be sure to check out my YouTube Channel.