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The Delaware Wing-T: Considerations When Calling Plays

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Gus is going back to being a football coach instead of a CEO, so we’re going back to the book he turned to when he first became a head coach in high school.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Arkansas Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The rest of the book is as detail-oriented as it gets. Chapters on position techniques explain how a quarterback should hold a ball before the handoff and provide the specific footwork for offensive linemen to make any of about a dozen different blocks. Chapters are included for backs and ends as well, plus practice drills to make it all work.

After that, Tubby Raymond lays out full itineraries for an offense installation during fall camp and a practice schedule for any given game week. He drives home the importance of being a teacher in the first part and being a manager in the second.

Then Raymond breaks down the in-game decision making by listing and describing eight variables in order of importance.

  • Score

Summarizing, with eight points ahead, let your opponents make mistakes. With one to six points up, you need another score.

  • Time

Time is the most predictable variable and you may use its consistency to your advantage. This variable affects your decisions most near half time or at the end of the game, giving rise to the popular term "two minute offense."

Or you can completely ignore that and use a “two minute offense” the whole time. Right, Gus? Right!?!

  • Field position
Tubby Raymond

This is sort of a rudimentary version of Bill Connelly’s success rate. If you get 50% of the required yardage on first down, 70% on 2nd down, and 100% on 3rd or 4th down, those plays can be called successful. A four yard gain on 1st and 10 is unsuccessful.

Raymond did something similar based on field position instead of down and distance. Basically, the image above says how many yards you have to average per play to avoid punting.

Zones 2 and 3 make the most sense. If you gain 3.4 yards in three plays, you can avoid 4th down altogether. Zone 1’s average is five yards because Raymond considered punting on third down when in the shadow of his own goal posts. And zones 4 and 5 only need 2.5 yards per play, because... screw field goals? I guess Delaware never had a #LEGATRON.

Zones 2 and 3 share the same per play average, but differ in their play calling style. Raymond suggests limiting the number passes thrown in zone 2, presumably because a quick turnover would put the opponent in awfully good field position.

Zones 4 and 5 differ in that the best plays should be used in zone 4 before the field is compressed in zone 5. This is something I’ve read about before and you can even see it in some of Gus’ playbooks in the past. It’s best to score before reaching the red zone. Auburn’s recent lack of big plays makes that hard to do. The offense moves the ball fine, but only incrementally and those last 5-15 yards are hard to come by.

  • Down and distance

If you divide the yards to go by the number of downs available, you will provide yourself with the necessary information to prevent the bad call. If the answer turns out to be less than four, you should consider running the ball. If the answer becomes four or more, consider throwing the ball. If the answer comes out to less than one, use the down to set something else up or go for the score; this is called a "purpose down."

  • Wind and weather

Nature's effect on the game is highly overrated...

But man’s attempt to supplement nature might be underrated.

  • Personnel

Study the abilities of your teammates and make use of their special abilities. Call on your hardest back for crucial situations. Throw to the receiver who will catch the ball. Don't be a politician - get the job done.

That’s the entirety of that section.

  • Game plan

[The game plan] should include plays that are described as either primary or secondary plays. The primary plays should be relatively few in number and should be used before secondary plays.

  • Defense opposing you

Raymond literally says to go read chapter five for this.


And with that, the Raymond confers upon the reader the playbook, a list of about 39 plays, each with diagrams against multiple defenses. Each play also includes instructions for each offensive player on the field. Here’s an example.

Tubby Raymond

Unfortunately, some of the diagrams show one play and the assignments describe another. They are all there, I think, just scrambled.

Take a look at them anyway. Oh, you don’t have a copy of the book? Well, I hear you can take a gander here.

I started reading this book because I thought it would be interesting to see where some of Gus Malzahn’s offense came from. When he told ESPN that he was done being a CEO and was focusing on being a football coach this year, I knew I had to write about it.

It came out dryer than I wanted, but it is basically a football manual after all. If nothing else, I hope you can appreciate the ideas behind the Wing-T, particularly the ones I described in chapters three and five. And I really hope Gus is serious about the coaching thing. I would love to see the full return of the HUNH. The return of explosive plays. The return of unpredictability. Oh wait. This is Auburn football. We are nothing if not unpredictable. War Eagle.