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msuBy Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

 

 

 

One of the problem areas offensive line coaches struggle with in the outside zone scheme is how to man block wide techiques in the outside zone or stretch concept.  If that block is not made at the point of attack, the threat of first level penetration occurs, thus styming the rhythm of the play.  Our research presents up to seven variations coaches are using to get those wide defenders accounted for at the point of attack.

 



By Mike Kuchar - @MikeKKuchar

Senior Research Manager

X&O Labs

 

Introduction

One of the problem areas offensive line coaches struggle with in the outside zone scheme is how to man block wide techiques in the outside zone or stretch concept.  If that block is not made at the point of attack, the threat of first level penetration occurs, thus styming the rhythm of the play.  Our research presents up to seven variations coaches are using to get those wide defenders accounted for at the point of attack.

 

Editor’s Note:  The following research is part of XandOLabs.com special report on the middle and outside zone concept.  The full length report can be found by clicking here.

  

Blocking Wide Techniques

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Bucket Step Footwork

We’ve found that 13.3 percent of coaches teach a wide bucket step to their covered offensive lineman in wide zone schemes, regardless of the alignment of the defender.  Drew Owens, the offensive line coach at Western Connecticut State University, is one of those coaches.  “If the OL’s defender in the count (#0, #1, #2) is on the line of scrimmage they will “REACH”.  Our REACH techniques is a drop step bucket, getting the 2nd step in the ground as fast as possible.  We post our backside hand down the midline of the defender.  If on our 3rd step we have reached the defender (defined by our head behind playside of the defender) we will begin to work vertical to a 2nd level defender, passing off the DL to another OL. 

If on our 3rd step we have not reached, we will continue to stretch the defender, staying as square as possible.  The more the stretch the better.  For example, we ask our boundary Tackles to try to stretch the DE’s to the numbers and the field side tackles to stretch the DE’s to the opposite hash.  I don’t over coach the steps because the landmark is the backside hand posted to the midline.  We land mark our hats on inside zone (based on inside and outside number) and landmark our BS hand on outside.  The depth of the drop and the width of the drop is dependent on the width of the DL or LB zoning too. 

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4-O’Clock Step Variant

At Lake Erie College, offensive line coach Jason Boyeas teaches what he calls a four o’clock step for all his zone run concepts.  The reason is two fold: he wants all of his zone to look the same and he doesn't want any double teams at the point of attack (a point we will expound upon in Case Four). 

According to Boyeas four o’clock footwork is timing step that allows for the defense to declare itself, so that our second step is never wrong.

 

  • Our 2nd step is a “crotch step” the goal of the step is to split the crotch of our assignment.
  • Our hand placement is critical.  We want our inside hand to the chest and outside hand to the defenders hip. 
  • If we cannot get our inside hand to the chest we will simply flip our hands.  Outside hand to chest and inside hand to the hip.

 

When we are in position to get our assignment reached we want to come in with our inside hand to the chest and our outside hand to the hip.  An example of this would be if I were the right tackle in a drive reach I would want to work my 2nd step, which would be with my left foot to split the defender.  When I get that step in the ground I also want to deliver a punch with my left hand to his chest.  On my third step I want to gain ground with my right foot, and bring my right hand to his hip.  If the DE is widening with my 4 O’clock step so as not to get reached and he is attempting to play heavy to the outside I will come in with my “hands flipped.”  So for example still being the right tackle on a drive reach as I take my crotch step he has worked away from me that I physically cannot split him with the crotch step, on my 2nd step I will bring my right hand to the chest and the left hand to the hip.  The practice clip I sent shows my right tackle doing the “flipped hands” technique.

 

Blocking off the ball Defenders (Diagram 9)

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Sometimes it becomes necessary to alter your footwork based on the leverage of the down defender.  In these situations, Towson offensive line coach John Donatelli, teaches both a two-step shuffle and a four-step shuffle footwork in his middle zone schemes.  He details both below:

 

Handling the Wide Three-Technique

We all know that true four-down defense will position their best interior defensive lineman at the 3-technique position.  In most cases, this player is the most aggressive block destructor on the defensive front.  The issue presented coaches that utilize the wide zone scheme is whether or not to single block the 3-technique or double the 3-technique with the Center.  Gibbs told us that once he broke into the league (NFL), he single blocked the 3-technique with the Guard but the problem was the second read for the back is the 3-technique so if that player got penetration, it was a loss. 

So Gibbs decided it made more sense to double zone block the 3-technique with the Center and Guard and single block the shade Nose with the back side Guard (Diagram 11).  “The 3-technique may be better than the Guard, but he is not going to beat the two of them,” said Gibbs.  “I was already using that system with the Tight End and Tackle so I knew how to drill and teach the mechanics to the Center and Guard.  Really, if we can win by blocking the 3-technique alone, then we stay with it.  If I cannot win on him, then we double him.  If the back side Guard cannot cut the shade nose, he has to stay up and push on him.” 

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Gibbs teaches an outside half landmark on the 3-technique while punching his inside arm up into the defender’s chest.  “He’s not worried about the inside movement of the defender,” said Gibbs.  “If the defender moves inside, he belongs to the Center.  The Guard stiff arms him inside and turns him over to the Center.  If the defender moves outside, the Guard is on his outside half.  If the outside half of the defender moves outside, the Guard moves outside with him.  The hardest part of the teaching is getting the Center not to chase the movement of the 3-technique.” 

Brandon Jones, the offensive line coach at Eastern Carolina University will cut the nose front side in his middle zone scheme, particularly if he is a penetrator.  “Often times the middle zone will cut back into that front side A gap so it has to be a clear entry point for the back,” said Jones.  “If we can’t block him, we’ll have to get him on the ground.”

 

What You're Missing:

Join XandOLabs.com exclusive Insiders program and gain full access to the entire Drill Report including: 

  • The coaching points behind the “Drop and Pop” footwork that Towson University uses in its middle zone concept.
  • The coaching points behind the “Open Step” footwork that Southeast Louisiana University uses in its outside zone concept.
  • The coaching points behind the “Drop Drive” footwork that Fordham University uses in its stretch concept.
  • The “Two-Step and Four-Step Shuffle” Technique which is uses to block off-the-ball covered defenders in the outside zone scheme.
  • Plus drill video of all these techiques.

Join X&O Labs' Insiders Website. Click Here!

 

 

Conclusion

What we’ve found in our research is that offensive line coaches have adjusted their methodologies- through trial and error, of course- based on their personnel and how wide those defenders are. These different techniques can be incorporated daily and can be adjusted to fit your personnel up front.

 

 

 

 

 

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