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The Wham Play: The Complete Guide

Posted by AJ Forbes on

When we look at the foundational run plays in football, we think of the mainstays: the Power, the Counter, and even Inside Zone.

They’re in almost every offense and are run all the time every weekend. A lot of complementary concepts generally go unnoticed by the untrained eye, but they prove to be highly effective.

One of these more obscure concepts in the game is Wham. 

What is the Wham Play?

The Wham play can best be described as Trap but with a Tight End or Fullback pulling and kicking out a Defensive Lineman instead of a Guard.

The Wham Play 

What are the Strengths of the Wham Play?

The biggest strength of the wham play is that it allows the offense to get favorable angles for running the football very quickly and often unexpectedly.

Defensive Line coaches teach how to take on blocks every practice, including how to take a Trap block. However, if the offense doesn’t run any Trap and rarely shows Wham, there is a high chance that the majority of practice is going to be used on other blocks. As a complementary play, Wham is a great change-up to an offense’s normal menu of runs. 

What are the Weaknesses of the Wham Play?

The biggest weakness of the wham play is that it can be very complicated and time-consuming to teach and install.

The offensive line and the Fullback need to be able to identify what the front is, who is getting Wham blocked, who is climbing, and who is staying. If any one of those rules is not followed, there’s a chance that a defender is going to come free. Because of this, teams generally game plan to get into specific formations to get a predictable front to run Wham.

Additionally, offenses need to have the right kind of guy to perform the Wham block. A 160-pound Fullback most likely isn’t going to block a 300-pound war daddy. You need a thicker, more powerful player to execute this block and have success with it.

Wham Play vs 3-4 Odd Front

Wham vs 3-4 Defense

Left Tackle - Drop step and establish inside-out leverage on the 4-tech

Left Guard - Secure the A-gap and block the Nose Tackle if he comes to you

Center - Double team with the RG on the Nose Tackle to the left Inside Linebacker

Right Guard - Double team with the Center on the Nose Tackle to the left Inside Linebacker

Right Tackle - Take the path of least resistance to climb to the right Inside Linebacker with a near-shoulder aiming point. This establishes the inside wall of the running lane

Tight End - Drop step and establish inside-out leverage on the right Outside Linebacker

Fullback - Identify the first Defensive Lineman outside of the Center pre-snap. Go into short motion, then kick out that Defensive Lineman after the snap with a near-shoulder aiming point. 

Tailback - Drop step to establish a downhill angle, then take the handoff. Aim for the inside hip of the kickout block and run behind the RT’s second-level block

Quarterback - Open up to the right and extend the ball for the handoff to the Tailback

X Wide Receiver - Push for the near Safety

Z Wide Receiver - Responsible for “most dangerous man”. If the near Safety remains deeper than the Cornerback, block the Cornerback. If the Safety comes running downhill, block the Safety.

Wham Play vs 4-3 Even Front

Wham vs 3-4 Defense

LT - Secure the B-gap, then hinge

LG - Double team with the Center on the Nose Tackle to the left Inside Linebacker

C - Double team with the Left Guard on the Nose Tackle to the left Inside Linebacker

RG - Take the path of least resistance to the 2nd level for the Middle Linebacker. Take him where he wants to go; the Tailback will adjust

RT - Take the path of least resistance to the 2nd level for the right Outside Linebacker. Establish inside-out leverage on the linebacker 

TE - Drop step and establish inside-out leverage on the playside edge defender

FB - Identify the first Defensive Lineman outside of the Center pre-snap. Go into short motion, then kick out that Defensive Lineman after the snap with a near-shoulder aiming point. 

TB - Drop step to establish a downhill angle, then take the handoff. Aim for the inside hip of the kickout block and run behind the RG’s second-level block

QB - Open up to the right and extend the ball for the handoff to the Tailback

X Receiver - Push for the near Safety

Z Receiver - Responsible for “most dangerous man”. If the near Safety remains deeper than the Cornerback, block the Cornerback. If the Safety comes running downhill, block the Safety.

Wham Play Variations

Now let's look at some variations of the wham play.

Variation 1: Gun H-Back Wham RPO

Gun H-Back Wham RPO

This variation is unique not only because of the RPO tag but because the Wham block happens on the Nose Tackle. Rather than the Wham either of the two 4-techs, the Center releases to the 2nd level and the Fullback kicks out the Nose Tackle. In addition, the QB has the option to read the flat defender and throw the slant or the bubble if there’s an unfavorable box count.

Variation 2: Shotgun Influence Wham

Shotgun Influence Wham

Defenses have different ways that they react to different blocks that they may encounter through the course of a play. In this example, the 3-tech sees that the Guard in front of him is pulling. If the offense runs a fair share of pin-and-pull, that 3-tech is going to expect a down block by the RT. As he widens to follow the Guard and brace for the down block, the Fullback traps him after he widens the running lane.

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