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Inside the Clemson Offense: The Buck Sweep

The "Buck Sweep" is widely regarded as the greatest Wing-T play in the book and is utilized extensively in the offensive attacks of both Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris.  Some coaching circles refer to this as the "Hand Sweep," but don't let that fool you as the two are so similar that we'll refer to both as the same play.  Keep in mind that both Morris and Malzahn want to keep things simple.  You will see this basic play run out of multiple sets  to maintain simplicity for the offensive players yet create multiple looks and inject some complexity for the opposing defense.

Let's review the Wing-T version:

Left 49 (Buck) or, for the DWT enthusiasts, Doubles 929


Against 40 and 50 fronts (courtesy of Coach Metz), Right Blue 48 (Buck) or, using common T nomenclature, simply 121:



Both guards pull, the BST and C get a reach/scoop.  PST, TE, and Wing all block Down, Gap, Backer.  FB fills behind the BSG and the SE attacks the safety.

Auburn and Tulsa have both taken the core concepts from the Wing-T and implemented them out of a spread gun formation.  A fullback is typically not present, so it is critical that the center do a good job with his down block and/or gap protection to fill the spot vacated by the pulling BSG.  Else, the backside receivers stalk the corner and/or attack the safety.  BST reach/scoop.  Both guards pull.  PST blocks Down, Gap, Backer, the H-Back seals the DE, and the playside WR attacks SAM.  Again, the ball carrier's alley should be between the pulling guards.


Similarly, you will often see a receiver run the Buck Sweep off of orbit motion.


Here is an excellent example of Tulsa running this play.  The first thing you will notice is the almost exagerated motion of the pulling guards.


A variation of the Spread Buck Sweep (thanks to War Eagle Reader) is shown below. They have flexed the TE and will use him to block down/crack the DE.  The wing's job is to get to the next level and seal SAM inside the tackle.  You'll notice that the Z receiver shows orbit motion to keep the defense more honest because of the reverse/rocket sweep possibility.


This play compilation illustrates formation variation coupled with a common base play.  Below you see Auburn featuring the Buck Sweep throughout a 2009 game against Kentucky.  Also notice that Auburn throws in a wrinkle by only pulling the backside guard, with everyone else basically blocking down.  This is useful with orbit motion as a reverse can be run without changing the blocking scheme.

Malzahn also likes to use athletic quarterbacks (particularly a guy like Cam Newton last season) on a QB sweep.  This play is often run out of an unbalanced set and features a fake hand-off to either the HB or a receiver in orbit motion.  QB then gets to the corner, reading the playside guard for the final perimeter kickout.  Thanks to OffensiveBreakdown for image below.


What you will see from this offense is a multitude of formations and motions that utilize the Buck Sweep.  We expect Clemson to utilize the quarterback, running backs, and wide receivers as ball carriers running the sweep in 2011.