DEFIANCE COLLEGE COACHES CLINIC

“The Zone Running Game”
Keith Grabowski grabkj@gmail.com (440)930-7461

“The problem with many of us is simply this…. we like this, we like that…. we go to clinics, we talk to coaches…. Ultimately, though, we fail to recognize that  successful offenses are ‘packaged.’  I don’t care  if you run wishbone, the wing­t, or the I. YOU MUST HAVE A SYSTEM. Ask yourself this question: DO I HAVE A SYSTEM… OR JUST A COLLECTION OF PLAYS?”    Jerry Hanlon, Former Offensive Line Coach The University of Michigan

Presentation Goals: 3. Share how we went from a collection of plays to a system and the results of our efforts. 2. Communicate what we believe to be the keys to a successful zone run game. 3. Identify and illustrate the fundamentals of our zone plays for each position. 4. Show video cuts illustrating our variations of the play.

Our Zone Running Game :
• 3 Distinct Zone Plays: • Inside Zone - Read the 1st Covered Down Lineman. • Outside Zone (OZ) - Read the End Man on the Line of Scrimmage • Stretch - Read Force Player-Get it Outside!

Difference in Zone, OZ & Stretch Aim Points & Primary Reads: ZONE
Read is the block on the  first Down  Lineman(DLM).

Aim Point on Zone is hip of  the 1st covered offensive  lineman past the Center.  A  shade does not count. Note:  We adjusted this in  2006 – play numbering would  tell TB where we wanted him  to read.

Difference in Zone, OZ & Stretch Aim Points & Primary Reads: OZ
Read is the block on the  End Man on the Lin of  Scrimmage(EMOL).

Aim Point is inside foot of the  TE or ghost TE

Difference in Zone, OZ & Stretch Aim Points & Primary Reads: STRETCH
Read is the block on  force defender: He can be outside and  off the LOS, coming  from the alley, coming  from the corner, or up  on the LOS.  He can be  blocked by FB or WR. Aim Point on Stretch is  1 yard deep by 3 yards  outside a TE or “ghost” TE.

How we switched to the Zone Running Game
• Discovered we had a problem against odd fronts

2003 Run Efficiency vs. Even Fronts opponent(8­3) 71% opponent(1­9) 67% opponent(4­6) 62% opponent(3­7) 62% opponent(6­4) 58% 2003 Run Efficiency vs. Odd Fronts opponent(0­10) 53% opponent(7­4) 50% opponent(7­3) 44% opponent(2­8) 38% opponent(15­0) 33%

How we switched to the Zone Running Game
• Discovered we had a problem against odd fronts • Went back and studied ourselves versus the top tier of the conference 2000-2003

Opponent Study 2000-2003
• • • • • • Record 1-7 versus opponents studied 40% run efficient 3.44 yards per carry Only 8 total +12 yard runs in 8 games 32 different run calls used Could not identify a “base offense” from what was called

How we switched to the Zone Running Game
• Discovered we had a problem against odd fronts • Went back and studied ourselves versus the top tier of the conference 2000-2003 • Started with some questions

Conclusions about our run game(‘03):
• We have become scheme heavy while sacrificing being fundamentally sound • Our schemes do not provide us with a sequence of problems for a defense. • There is not a logical progression for us. When one scheme does not work we just try something else. • We cannot effectively practice all of the schemes we have.

Conclusions about our run game(‘03):
• Our man scheme blocking causes our lineman to become tentative if the defense presents a new look or movement. • We must simplify our offense by cutting down our schemes, but make it appear more complicated to the defense by presenting more looks(formations, shifts, motion). • What we have been using has not allowed us success against the top tier of our conference.

2004-2006 Offense
• 1. Attitude - We will attack with a punishing running game that destroys the defensive line. • 2. We will use spread formations & compressed formations to open up the run & pass. (Expand & Contract) • 3. We will use a base offense week after week. • 4. We will adjust with formations, not by adding new plays. • 5. We will take advantage of our abilities with personnel packages.

The Stretch Play 2004-2005
• 178 carries for 1,840 yards • 21% of our offense attempts in 20042005 • 10.3 yards per carry • 73% efficient (+4) yards • 53 explosives(+12 yard runs) • 17 TD’s

The Stretch Play 2006
• • • • • • • • • 68 carries for 409 yards 11% of our offense attempts in 2006 6.0 yards per carry 62% efficient (+4) yards 12 explosives(+12 yard runs) 4 TD’s Starting TE injured for 6 games/FB was converted TB-175 LBS Needed to be creative with how we blocked the edge. Still a good play for us. Became better as the game wore on.

Primary Objectives of the Stretch Play
• To get the entire backfield and line on a wide “railroad” track • To force the defense to stretch quickly. • To beat them to the corner with a show of force. • to cut up in a lane they open by pursuing incorrectly. • Linemen think overtake & flat course to LB

Worst Case Scenario: All linemen running parallel with the line of scrimmage

Cut­up lanes will open for the Back.

Our Teaching Progression
• Gap responsibility

Gap Responsibility
TE T G C G T TE

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Our Teaching Progression
• Gap responsibility • Technique versus different alignments

Outside Technique
Both Linemen step laterally The outside OL is going at  the outside bicep; inside   OL is going at inside  #/sternum. If the inside # disappears,   the inside OL should stay  flat and climb to level 2.   He should NOT climb  straight upfield

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Outside Technique
Coaching Points: OL going to 2nd level should  flatten and let the LB come  to him.  NEVER turn back  on zone plays.   He should stay on his tracks and  continue on past level 2 to the  safety. When blocking a LB he should try  to run him over.  At the very worst  he will get in the way. Play Direction
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Head-up Technique
OL should know the % of him  coming inside is now greater. Outside OL will step with  outside foot and punch  with inside hand. Inside OL aims for inside #  landmark.  He should  attempt to overtake. Lineman who comes off should  come off flat and let LB come  to him. Play Direction
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Inside Technique(uncovered)
This is not the outside OL’s gap  responsibility. Outside OL will step with outside  foot and punch with inside hand to  help stop penetration.  He should  get the 2nd  step down quickly.

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He should attempt to overtake the  next adjacent DL or flatten and let  the LB come to him.  Play Direction
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movement  by DL to inside

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Drill outside technique; movement  by DL to outside

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FB Blocking TE Side      ­ Phase 1 Drill

Stretch to the perimeter for 7 yards.  Maintain outside leverage. When he attacks, block his outside half.
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FB Blocking TE Side ­ Phase 2 Drill

Stretch to the perimeter for 7 yards. Fight for outside leverage. Continue stretching until you get to the numbers, then kick out.
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FB Blocking TE Side ­ Force shows immediately. Phase 3 Drill

Arc to begin stretch to perimeter. Attempt to pin him in,  but kick out if you must.
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FB TECHNIQUE SE STRETCH

No force in alley­FB can chip the edge Until force shows.

Split End Stretch
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Phase 4:  Stretch Set­up perimeter block drill Keep inside hip relationship To set up hook block.  When  FB blocks outside half, make move.

Get on the FB’s Inside hip
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Phase 4:  Stretch Set­up perimeter block drill Keep inside hip relationship To set up hook block.  If defender comes across hard Let FB kick out, make move N/S  and get  back outside.

Get on the FB’s Inside hip
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Stretch:  Climb the Levels Drill Open Crossover at land mark 3x1 off TE As TB approaches 1st defender(cone or bag) he  should dip his inside shoulder to simulate a cut  up & accelerate.  Continue dipping and  climbing the levels at each cone or bag.  Cut up  after last cone.

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• Distinct Read especially on down & distance  situations(know how much you need) • 1st step is open and 2nd is at landmark.  Get  Shoulders pointed to sideline.  Make the LB’s move. • You will have a primary read and adjustments to what  happens on your track • Track adjustment:  you read the blockers numbers  and opposite color is showing outside­cut up. • Unblocked opposite color flashes on your track­cut  up. • Goal is to get to the perimeter quickly(climb your  track) and take advantage of improper pursuit. • Dip your shoulder inside to set up your blocks. • If you cut up, get back outside  after the cut.  
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Primary TB Read: Force

Get on your path and read the  block on the force player.  Keep  climbing on your track to the  outside!
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• Identify your Read: Force player. • Based on his alignment how quickly will he force? • Check alignment of DE on TE. Potential problem or adjustment?

Tailback 6 Second RuleStretch

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Tailback Climbing Levels on Stretch
In this example the TB has 3 blockers on the edge. His progression should be to read each as he stays on  his track toward sideline.

1st blocker gets the outside half of defender = Stay on track, eyes to next block outside.  To make blockers commit, dip your inside shoulder. This will help your blocker get outside leverage.
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Tailback Climbing Levels on Stretch

2nd  blocker gets the outside half of defender = Stay on track, eyes to next block outside.

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Tailback Climbing Levels on Stretch

3rd blocker fights to get the outside half of defender  =Stay on track and continue to run towards sideline. If you are gaining ground do not cut up because pursuit  from the inside will get you.  The result is +12 yards.
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Stretch Reads and Adjustments: Blockers on your path On your path, you see the  TE’s numbers facing you. Opposite Color shows on  his outside half. Cut up North­South Get back outside & read force

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Tailback Stretch Reads:  

As you are on your track you read your blockers numbers. If opposite color is showing on the blockers  outside half, this means the defender has  aggressively run out and upfield. 

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Tailback Stretch Reads:   As you are on your track you read your blockers numbers. If opposite color is showing on the blockers  outside half, this means the defender has  aggressively run out and upfield.  Your cut should be up and then back outside.

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Stretch Reads and Adjustments: Unblocked defender on your path. Unblocked Opposite Color  flashes in your path. Immediately cut North &  South and get yards. If you get into open  space, look to get back  outside

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Tailback Stretch Reads:   As you are on your track opposite color jersey flashes in  your path.

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Tailback Stretch Reads:   As you are on your track opposite color jersey flashes in  your path. You must plant and cut N­S to get yards.  Your cut may bring you back into open field.

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Tailback Stretch Reads:   As you are on your track opposite color jersey flashes in  your path. You must plant and cut N­S to get yards.  Your cut may bring you back into open field.

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Tailback Stretch Reads:   As you are on your track opposite color jersey flashes in  your path. You must plant and cut N­S to get yards.  Your cut may bring you back into open field. Now get back outside away from pursuit.

Sprint to Mesh Point­ Phase 1

QB will open at 4 o’clock(8 o’clock) Fully extend ball and reach to the cone. He will sprint through the mesh point.
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Emphasis is opening correctly and sprinting the ball back.
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Sprint to Mesh Point­ Phase 2

QB will open at 4 o’clock(8 o’clock) Fully extend ball and reach to the cone. He will sprint to the mesh point(6 quick steps). Gather his feet and ball himself up. Emphasis on getting his feet gathered and balling up. C.P.  Balling up makes QB look the same whether he has ball or not.
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Sprint to Mesh Point­ Phase 3

QB will open at 8 o’clock(4 o’clock) Fully extend ball and reach to the cone. He will sprint to the mesh point. Gather his feet and ball himself up. Fake Hand­off and get depth step, natural arc  to bootleg. C.P.  Snap head and shoulders after depth step Arc should be deep enough to escape end,  but not waste energy by getting too much  depth.
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Boot­ Phase 4

QB will open at 8 o’clock(4 o’clock) He will sprint with the ball extended for 4  steps. There WILL NOT be a mesh with the TB.   The ball extended and the action of the  TB should move LBs. Depth should be to about 6­1/2 yards, just  short of the original alignment of TB.
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Receiver Blocking
• Playside - Block Man On. Drive him out of bounds. • Backside - Block Near Safety. • Maintain blocks until whistle. • WR Blocks turn a big gain into a TD. • Backside block is just as important; play may cut up.
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Receiver Blocking
Never allow this path by  the defender! Receiver needs to  gain leverage and  “dig him out” WR Angle & # of steps  depends on depth and  distance(applies to both  stalk & crack blocks) Make him bubble around Not This!

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Phase 5:  Stretch ­ One back Set­up perimeter block drill(with WR) SS

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Also Drill Two­back & Stalk CB  Rec. Menu
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Phase 5:  Stretch ­ One back Set­up perimeter block drill(with WR) SS

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TE(Y) RT

RG

49 Rules

C LG LT

FB

HB

Z X QB

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Assignment Coaching Point Covered:  Make “Trey” call “Punch” on a 1 technique before  Uncovered:  work your track to level 2 going to level 2.  “Duece” call  overrides your “Trey” call. Covered:  Make a “Duece” call Punch and work to level 2 if  Uncovered:  Listen for “Triple” call uncovered and no call made. “Ace”  overrides “Duece” Trey­aim for hip of DL Covered:  Make a “Ace” call Duece­aim for hip of DL, Can Punch  Uncovered:  Listen for “Double” call on a 1 tech. before moving  Covered:  Make a “Charlie” call Ace­aim for hip of DL, Can Punch on  Uncovered:  Listen for “Ace” call a shade tech. before moving  Covered:  Make a “George” call Charlie­aim for hip of DL, Can punch  Uncovered:  Listen for “Charlie” call on a 3 tech. before moving. Covered:  Make a “Tom” call if you  Sift:  get on your track and block most  have a backside TE.  No TE you are dangerous. on your own.  Uncovered:  Sift, listen  George­aim for hip of DL for “George” call Open and get on track(outside of  Block outside half of force defender  TE/ghost TE).  Block force defender. with inside half of your body.  Try to  To SE side block overhang player.    maintain outside leverage.  If he flows  (see HB assignment for 38 Stretch) outside, drive him out of bounds. Bongo technique to SE side. Open­2nd step get on track at your  landmark(2 yards outside TE/ghost  TE).  Stay on path until 4 yard crease  opens or a wrong colored jersey  shows.  Cut Nort & South. Stalk on playside/Cross Field on  Possible crack or other blocking  backside. adjustment playside by game plan Stalk on playside/Cross Field on  Possible crack or other blocking  backside. adjustment playside by game plan Open to 4 o’clock.  Sprint ball to TB, Eye up the backside DE.  He is your  gather get depth and naked fake after  man.  Gun­read DE, if he close down  hand­off. line pull & keep around end.

48 Stretch

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48 Stretch (TE Side) vs. 5­2
FS C R
X

E

W

N

M

SS T
Y

C

S
Z

F

H

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48 Stretch (TE Side) vs. 4­4
FS

Pro vs. 4-4

C

B E

B T
george

B T
ace

B E

C

F H

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48 Stretch (TE Side) vs. 4­3
FS SS

On Pro vs. 4-3

C E

B T

B T
ace

B E
trey

C

george

F H

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48 Stretch (TE Side) vs. 3­3
FS

Float to On Pro vs. 3-3

C

B

B E
charlie

B N

B E
duece

B

C

F H

49 Stretch (SE Side) vs. 5­2
FS SS

Off Pro vs. 5-2
C
bongo E

B T N

B T E C

X
charlie tom

Z

F H

48 Stretch (SE Side) vs. 4­4
FS

Pro vs. 4-4
C B E B T
george

B T
ace

B E

C

F H

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49 Stretch (SE Side) vs. 3­3
FS

Off Pro vs. 3-3
C X

B

B E
duece

B N
charlie

B E
tom

B C

Z

F H

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The Zone Play 2004-2005
• • • • • • 203 carries for 1,278 yards 20% of our offense attempts in 2004-5 6.3 yards per carry 58% efficient (+4) yards Zero Lost Yardage Plays 12 TD’s

The Zone Play 2006
• • • • • • 146 carries for 1,008 yards 23% of our offense attempts in 2006 6.9 yards per carry 59% efficient (+4) yards 21 Explosives(+12) 13 TD’s

Gap Responsibility
TE T G C G T TE

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DL Outside Technique (3)

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Step at 45 degrees with The outside foot at the DL’s outside #. Most likely he is outside Gap responsible, so we Want a hat on his outside #.

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DL Head Up Technique(2)

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Step is straight ahead with the Outside foot at the outside #. The DL has a 2­way go, but the OL is outside gap  responsible. If he comes outside the OL will  Still have outside leverage. If he goes inside, it is not the OL’s Gap responsibility.  He will punch & go to level 2.

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DL Inside Technique (1) (Uncovered Pry Technique)

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Come off the ball with the Inside foot to the outside # Landmark.  Do not allow Penetration. One hand punch until help  From the inside gets there. This DL technique rarely Will come across to the  Outside gap, so OL will Be working up to level 2.

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Frontside Combo Calls
• “Ace” Call by the Guard for the Center  to combo with him.  Made if there is a 2  or 1. • “Double” Call by the Tackle for the  Guard to combo with him.  Only vs. 50  (2 or 3) • “Triple”Call by the Tight End for the  Tackle to combo with him.  Vs. 2 or 3.
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Backside Combo Calls
• “Charlie” Call between C & BSG to give  BSG help on the shade(1 technique) • “George” Call between BSG & BST • “Tom” Call between BST & BSTE (if  there is a TE backside only)

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Combo Calls

“George”
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“Ace”

“Triple”

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Combo Calls

“George”
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“Ace”

“Triple”

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Combo Calls

“Charlie”
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“Double”

“Triple”

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Combo Blocks

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Landmark inside hip
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Combo Blocks

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Landmark inside hip
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Backside Scoop Technique
Punch to buy time & Get off to gap responsibility

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Scoop & get head In front to prevent Penetration.
Dip& rip, grab grass get the shoulder underneath.  The T is trying to scoop him or drive him down the  line if he can not get him scooped.  The guard takes a short step but does not get too occupied with 3  technique.  Worst case scenario should be a stalemate.

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Uncovered Backside Tackle (No George Call from BSG) = Sift Tech.
Step with near foot to Stop penetration, then Block most dangerous  Man in your area

DE moves away from play. LB becomes most dangerous.

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Uncovered Backside Tackle (No George Call from BSG) = Sift Tech.
Step with near foot to Stop penetration, then Block most dangerous  Man in your area

DE slants to play. DE becomes most dangerous.

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Zone TB Coaching Points
• Distinct Read especially on down & distance  situations(know how much you need) • 1st step is open and 2nd is at landmark.  Get  Shoulders pointed to sideline.  Make the LB’s  move. • You will have a primary and secondary read. • Goal is 3.5 yards minimum every play.   • Adjust aim point based on Front or Hole  called.
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Tailback 6 Second Rule-Zone
• Identify your Read: 1st DLM past C(shade does not count). • Identify the LB you need to move. • Identify your secondary read-the next inside DLM from your primary. • Identify alignment of End-inside of our last lineman(OT or TE) realize that the play may come all the way out the backdoor.

TB Read Coaching Points
Unless your read pinches, your eyes  should be going to your secondary  read.

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Primary TB Reads
Read the outside hip of the first Covered lineman playside. React to what he does.  In this example Cut inside.

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Secondary TB Reads
Read the outside hip of the first Covered lineman playside. React to what he does.  Once you see  his movement outside, get eyes to next  DLM inside. In this example he is reached by the  BSG, so cut up through playside A  gap.  1 cut & get yards!
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Secondary TB Reads
Read the outside hip of the first Covered lineman playside. React to what he does.  Once you see  his movement outside, get eyes to next  DLM inside. In this example his movement takes  him into the PS A gap, so cut up  through backside A gap behind the  BSG. 
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1 cut & get yards North & South! Slide 4 of 4 Click Here to Return To Directory

Jump Cut Drill

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TB Footwork Drill

Purpose:  Teach the back to  Make a quick lateral move (simulate cut behind OL) and Then burst. Can vary direction after lateral  Move.  Coach can stand at top  Of drill and point, or have a Player simulate an LB. Other  Variations are to add yards after  Contact moves.

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Inside Zone Press the Line Drill

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Inside Zone Press the Line Drill

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TB Zone Reads: TB Aim Point & Primary Read is 1st Covered OL (#50). He sees #50 take drive his man out=eyes to secondary  read, the next DLM inside.

LOS

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TB Zone Reads: TB Aim Point & Primary Read is 1st Covered OL (#50). He sees #50 take drive his man out=eyes to secondary  read, the next DLM inside. C, BSG & BST wash their men past. TB Cut is behind the BST, inside the FB kickout.

LOS

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TB Zone Reads: TB’s cut presses the LOS­his cut is on their side of  the LOS.

LOS

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TB Zone Reads: TB makes one cut and gets North­South

LOS

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TB Zone Reads: Free Safety is the TB’s man to beat.

LOS

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FB Zone Reads The FB Zone is no different than the TB Zone as far  as reads, but it will be quicker because of the FB  distance from LOS. Primary­1st Covered OL Secondary Read­next inside DLM

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Primary read­eyes to RT #65.

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DT is flowing out and RT takes him that way. Eyes go to secondary read(Center #57)

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Center cuts his man off, so running lane is straight  through the A gap.  

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FB should get N­S and get yards!

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Gain extra YAC by delivering a blow and falling  forward when tackled.

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OZ TB Coaching Points
• Distinct Read especially on down & distance  situations(know how much you need) • 1st step is open and 2nd is at landmark.  Get  Shoulders pointed to sideline.  Make the LB’s  move. • You will have a primary and secondary read. • This play cuts up, not back! • This play is effective when the edge  defenders are flying out for stretch
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Tailback 6 Second Rule-OZ
• Identify your Read: EMOL • Identify the LB you need to move. • Identify your secondary read-the next inside DLM from your primary.

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Primary TB Reads
Read the outside hip of the end man  on LOS playside. React to what he does.  In this example Cut inside.

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Primary TB Reads
Read the outside hip of  EMOL playside. React to what he does.  In this  example cut inside.

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Primary TB Reads
Aim at the inside foot of the TE  and read his block. React to what the defender over the  TE does.  In this example Cut it up  the C Gap off of the TE’s kick out  block. Get North & South after your cut.

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Primary TB Reads
Aim at the inside foot of the TE  and read his block. React to what the defender over the  TE does.  In this example get  around the TE block and get upfield  immediately.  Force is being kicked  out. Force is the secondary read, but  should not be a factor inside. Get North & South after your cut.
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TB Secondary OZ Reads
Aim at the inside foot of the TE  and read his block. React to what the defender over the  TE does. In this case your eyes  should take you to the next inside  Down Lineman.    In this example Cut it up the C Gap  off of the TE’s kick out block &  inside Tackles reach block. Get North & South after your cut.
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TB Secondary OZ Reads

Aim at the inside foot of the TE  and read his block. React to what the defender over the  TE does. In this case your eyes  should take you to the next inside  Down Lineman.    In this example Cut it up the C Gap  behind both kick­out blocks.   Realize that the cut will be made N­ S and not back.  Movement of the  defenders will go beyond the  aimpoint.  Backside is attempting to  cut block so all pursuit is cut­off.

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FB Blocking ­ OZ

Stretch to the perimeter for 7 yards. Kick Force Out!

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TB Oz Reads: Get on track to aim point(inside foot of TE.)

LOS * Use the asterisk as a reference to where & how the cut is made. It is in the same spot on the field in every picture.
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TB Oz Reads: Get on track to aim point(inside foot of TE.) Press the line of scrimmage to get defensive movement  and open a running lane.

LOS *

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TB Oz Reads: Get on track to aim point(inside foot of TE.) Press the line of scrimmage to get defensive movement  and open a running lane.

LOS * Using the asterisk as a reference point, while the cut  takes the TB behind the BSG’s block, he actually is  cutting over the original alignment of the TE.
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TB Oz Reads: THE TB’s cut is not back, it is North & South.

LOS *

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TB Oz Reads: The proper cut into the running lane leaves the TB one on  one with the FS. 

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•                 2004 71%L 67%W 67%W 86%W 62%W 68%W 62%W 56%W 58%W 60%W 53%W 78%W 50%L 58%W 44%W 55%W 38%W 73%W 33%L 47%L

RESULTS 2004­ Run Efficiency Improved in Almost  Every Game

Improvement ­4% +19% +6% ­6% +2% +25% +8% +11% +35% +14%

Avg. 10 Games +11.0% per game

RESULTS 2004­2006

• Broke every school rushing  category record in 2004. (records  held since 1980’s) • Then, broke them again in 2005. • County’s 1st back­to­back 2,000  yard rusher. • 2004­2006 Led the county in  rushing. • 2005 Ohio Div. I Rushing & Scoring  Leader • Soph. TB in 2006, 3rd best season 

For a copy of this presentation: grabkj@gmail.com

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