Tony DeMeo

Questions and Answers with Ted Kempski

The Delaware Wing T spread fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators for nearly half a century. One of the architects of that vaunted offense was Ted Kempski who was Tubby Raymond’s Offensive Coordinator. Ted coached at the University of Delaware for 34 years and during that span The Fightin’ Blue Hens won 3 National championships, was runner up twice and appeared in 16 NCAA playoffs. UD also won 9 conference titles. Overall the Hens record during Kempski’s stay was 292 – 109 -3. A Hall of Fame resume’ if I ever saw one. I had the opportunity to coach on the UD staff in 1989 and can honestly say it was like going to football school. I absorbed all I could from Tubby and Ted and further developed my philosophy of offensive football.

Tony: Who were the three biggest influences in your coaching career?

Ted: Of course Tubby Raymond would be number one, then Dave Nelson and Jim Camp who gave me my 1st job at George Washington University.

Tony: What’s your philosophy of offense? I know the Wing T would be the base but what was your overall offensive philosophy?

Ted: We always wanted a run/pass balance. We were Wing T based but looked for a 70/30 run/pass ratio, maybe even 65/35. We always looked to create defensive conflicts; plays that appeared to be the same but were different. I look to create blocking scheme conflicts to the front seven, so a blocking scheme may look like the same scheme to a defender but instead of kicking him out you log him.

For example on the Belly G and the Buck Sweep the blocking looks the same but attacks different areas. I like to use influence blocking like on the “gut” play where you pull both guards as you would on the Buck Sweep then give the ball to the fullback up the middle. When you create defensive conflicts the defense can’t play as fast and you don’t have to have a great line to move the ball. The other part of my philosophy is sequence – sequence in blocking schemes and backfield action. Misdirection disrupts a defenses run/pass keys. We also liked to create flanks where we could out leverage the defense to get outside.

Tony: Many Wing T principles are key parts of today’s “new age” offenses. For example Herb Hand the OC of the high powered Tulsa Attack told me the Buck Sweep was their best play. The Wake Forest Orbit Attack has Wing T elements. What was the evolution of the Delaware Wing T?

Ted: Well we started with the basic wing T with the Buck Sweep series and then gradually evolved from there. We brought you in to put in the option game. This was an easy addition because you were in 3 backs and we were a 3 back offense. This was a great combination the triple option with our basic wing t package. Then we added some of the West Coast Passing game. We used their quick game to open the offense up, we used a simplified modified version but it was very effective. Then the last element we added was the Jet sweep which we added to be able to get outside without running the option. So we could run wide without involving the QB. If I was coaching today I would add the Rocket Toss play that Paul Johnson runs. Both the Jet sweep & the Rocket are easier to run than the Buck Sweep and still give you the opportunity to attack the perimeter. I still love the Buck Sweep, Gut and waggle sequence.

Tony: What are the trends you see evolving in today’s game?

Ted: I think defenses have caught up with pure one back zone attacks. So now teams are going back to more 2 back Power & Iso Attacks but now they are doing it from different formations and with different personnel. For example Nevada is doing it out of the “Pistol” Formation using an “H” back as the kick out guy instead of a fullback. The emergence of hybrid players is a trend. The Tight End/Fullback or what you do using wide receivers as running backs these are hybrid positions that allow you to get in a lot of formations without substituting. This can be tough matching up on defense. So a guy with an imagination can cause a defense fits by just lining up. If I were coaching today I would recruit: an athletic QB, a proto-type TE, a Wing T fullback (a runner who could execute a kick out & Iso block) and the rest of the skill to be WR/RBs.

Tony: With the success Paul Johnson has had do you think the option is making a comeback?

Ted: I think it was making a comeback but Paul has speeded it up. The DC’s worst nightmare is an athletic QB because they can’t account for him. In the Pros they don’t have to worry about a QB running so they can play man under & zone blitz. A three back offense is a huge advantage as far as sealing the edge so the Georgia Tech style offense is going to look good to a struggling program. But today an athletic QB is a must.

Tony: What advice would you give young coaches?

Ted: Coaching is a tough demanding job but also very rewarding. Develop fundamental principles of how you interact with others. And develop your own philosophy and stick to it. Don’t go with the latest “hot” new thing, don’t be a fad guy. Develop a system and stick with it.