Pledge Your Allegiance to the Delaware Wing T

Old Fart Tree

the maven of meat
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Real talk, I think it's time we talk about the Wing T. @canderson and @Rick Burlesons Yam Bag , please sound off.

I will quickly duck out of this conversation, honestly, but I'll explain my affection for it. Story time!

The year was 1998 and I was covering a pretty mediocre 3-8 Stanford football team for the Stanford Daily. In the runup to the 100th Big Game against Cal, I was assigned an article that *seemed* like a not-that-bad type of thing but turned out to be the heaviest lift, lowest-margin job I've ever had: write a 2,000 word article for the cover of Cardinal Today (the gameday tabloid about all things Stanford Football) explaining the history of football strategy and how Big Game contributed to it over time. Believe it or not, there's a lot! Pop Waner was responsible for a bunch of strategic innovations while coaching the then Indians, the Power T that the 1940s Bears used to great success came out of Clark Shaughnessy's Stanford teams*, and of course, Bill Walsh honed his high-flying West Coast offense during his first stint at Stanford before moving up the peninsula to the 49ers. There was plenty of innovation on the Cal side as well, but this being a Stanford publication, Stanford's own contributions were obviously featured more prominently.

Anyway, this turned into an absolute 100-hour wormhole of research, scouring the Geocities and Angelfire websites of the late 1990s to overturn every possible connection between a Stanford/Cal coach and the evolution of the modern game. I was paid, if I recall, $18 for the article, which is sort of 'Malaysian Sweatshop' hourly rates, but I digress. I learned a lot**, but my biggest takeaway by FAR (other than 'never commit to fixed rate pay for potentially unlimited work') was "Holy Shit, People Fucking Love the Wing T."

It became a running joke between me and my roommates, who would invariably come home from class to find me reading EVEN MORE about the Delaware Wing T, sort of fascinated by the passion that people had for it. The one Yammer and I keep joking about was this one page, total 1990s Geocities font, probably black on an uncomfortably dark 'football turf' background with the animated 'under construction' gif, with the headline in bold underlined all caps: PLEDGE YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO THE WING T.

My only exposure to the Wing T was preparing in high school to play some team that ran the Wing T exclusively. All I remember was a lot of fast-hitting plays, a fuck ton of misdirection, and, if I remember correctly, my coach's opinion that it's a great, well-run offense that just *works*, with one weakness: all the handoffs typically happen in about a one-yard radius, and if you can get to that spot quickly with A gap pressure, you can kinda blow up the whole offense. Easier said than done, obviously.

OK have it. Let's talk Wing T. Is my recollection about A Gap pressure true, or did I invent that?







*Quoting from the internet, "Legendary Coach "Pop" Warner, who had headed the Stanford program before handing the reins over to Thornton, proclaimed: "If Stanford ever wins a single game with that crazy (Power T) formation, you can throw all the football I ever knew into the Pacific Ocean. What they're doing is ridiculous." Those words would later be used as an indictment of Pop to show that the game had, indeed, passed him by."


** Other thing I remember learning was over a record that I think falls into the "Cy Young 511 Wins" category in terms of never being broken or even approached. Bob "Horse" Reynolds of Stanford's Vow Boys - who vowed they'd never lose to USC, and made good on the promise - played in 180 consecutive minutes in the Rose Bowl. Those teams went to three straight and he never came out of any of those three games.
 

Old Fart Tree

the maven of meat
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Also, if anyone can find the Pledge Your Allegiance to the Wing T page on the wayback machine, my heart would soar. I haven't been able to find it.
 

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
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Harrisburg, Pa.
We ran this in offense. If you have personnel that can operate and are a physically small team I think it's the perfect offense. But you need your QB to be highly intelligent and adaptive.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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We ran this in offense. If you have personnel that can operate and are a physically small team I think it's the perfect offense. But you need your QB to be highly intelligent and adaptive.
It's also an offense that you can teach the basics of at the youth level, so that when kids get to HS they have all the tools.

It seems like every state, every year, has 1-2 teams who run the Wing T in the final 4 in at least 2-3 different groups. This year our team went undefeated and in the sectional final ran into a school called Delsea, which has about 85% as many students as we do but have run the Wing T for over 30 years. I can honestly tell you that I had to watch over half the plays 3-4 times to figure out who actually had the football on any given play. The deception, the concept of (almost) always have a motion blocker supplementing the lineman, the ball carrier staying inches off the hip of his motion blocker.....it's so sound it's like watching a Ferrari run after driving a really nice Toyota all season.
 

terrynever

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Late 1960s, early 1970s Penn State mixed in some Wing-T with its standard Power I formation (led by Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell). The Wing-T always screwed up the next opponent. Rip Engle brought the Wing-T with him from Brown in 1951 and brought along his Brown QB to help install the offense at Penn State. Joe Paterno never left.
 
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Old Fart Tree

the maven of meat
Lifetime Member
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Jan 10, 2001
12,569
Boulder, CO
We ran this in offense. If you have personnel that can operate and are a physically small team I think it's the perfect offense. But you need your QB to be highly intelligent and adaptive.

So, is it true about A gap penetration? Or are the plays sufficiently quick hitting that it's hard to get there in time?
 

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
35,657
Harrisburg, Pa.
So, is it true about A gap penetration? Or are the plays sufficiently quick hitting that it's hard to get there in time?
For how we played, the latter. Relied on speed and the o-line stunting a lot. Confused defenses. We weren’t great but did go 3 deep in the Texas playoffs as an undersized, small rural school. Our QB could hardly pass beyojd 15 yards so that played a big role.

I’m of the belief U of Texas has sucked at football for so long because the rise of 7 on 7. No more stout lines or strong middle linebackers. It’s all speed and wide-open passing games.
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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I think he's referring to 7 on 7 non-tackle football that's played in the off season, all passing.

The small school football which is played in Texas (ESPN had a great show about that) is 6 on 6.
 

Old Fart Tree

the maven of meat
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Ah, word.

OK, follow up question - @Rick Burlesons Yam Bag talked about the fact that you can teach the principles of the offense early, and that carries over into high school. Which offenses *don't* have that? Obviously, you're not running the run 'n' shoot at age 8, but what else?
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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Any offense that is a timing offense. Any offense that depends on the QB making 25+ throws a game. Any offense that has true zone blocking.

Youth football is aboot teaching the fundamentals to 11 guys. Too many youth programs have a playbook that is “These 5 kids do everything, and if anyone else does something….awesome.”

The Wing T is violence and democracy. It is US.
 

luckiestman

Son of the Harpy
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Jul 15, 2005
27,131
This is what the chat bot came up with

….


write an article for the cover of Cardinal Today (the gameday tabloid about all things Stanford Football) explaining the history of football strategy and how Big Game contributed to it over time.


Stanford Football has been a longstanding tradition on the Stanford University campus for over a century. The team has had its fair share of ups and downs throughout the years, but one thing that has remained constant is its commitment to strategic play and innovation on the field.
The history of football strategy can be traced back to the earliest days of the sport. In the late 1800s, teams primarily relied on brute force and sheer athleticism to overpower their opponents. It wasn't until the turn of the century that coaches began to develop more sophisticated strategies to gain an edge on the field.
One of the earliest pioneers of modern football strategy was Glenn "Pop" Warner, the head coach at Stanford from 1924 to 1932. Warner was a firm believer in the importance of teamwork and discipline, and he emphasized the need for players to work together in order to succeed. He was also an innovator when it came to play design, and he is credited with creating several new formations and plays that are still in use today.
Another key figure in the history of football strategy was Bill Walsh, who led the Stanford Cardinal to three consecutive Pac-10 championships from 1992 to 1994. Walsh was known for his West Coast offense, which emphasized short, precise passes and ball control in order to keep the defense on its toes. His approach revolutionized the way teams thought about offense, and it helped pave the way for the high-powered passing attacks that are common in today's game.
The annual Big Game between Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley has also played a crucial role in the evolution of football strategy. This rivalry, which dates back to 1892, has produced some of the most exciting and innovative football in the sport's history.
One of the most famous Big Game moments came in 1982, when John Elway led the Cardinal to a stunning comeback victory over the Golden Bears. Trailing by two touchdowns with just minutes left in the game, Elway engineered a miraculous drive that ended with a game-winning touchdown pass to Ken Margerum. This performance cemented Elway's status as one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history, and it helped propel Stanford to a Pac-10 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Another iconic Big Game moment came in 2007, when Stanford and Cal played to a thrilling 31-31 tie. This game featured a record-setting performance by Cal quarterback Nate Longshore, who threw for a school-record 461 yards and five touchdowns. It also saw a clutch performance by Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard, who filled in for an injured T.C. Ostrander and led the Cardinal to two fourth-quarter touchdowns to force the tie.
The history of football strategy is a rich and storied one, and Stanford has played a key role in its evolution. From Pop Warner's innovations to Bill Walsh's West Coast offense to the unforgettable moments of the Big Game, the Cardinal has consistently been at the forefront of strategic play on the gridiron. And as the team continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on the field, Stanford football fans can be sure that the best is yet to come.