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University of Oregon
I am going to talk about our zone running game. The
first part will be about the inside zone play and the
second half hour will be on the outside zone play. We had an outstanding year this past year because we had good players. That is the bottom line to the success of our season. I think our coaches do an excellent job of putting those players into situations where they have an opportunity to be successful. What you are entrusted to do as a coach is to
create an environment where your players have a
football. We average 6.2 yards per carry. We have four funning plays. We fun the inside zone, outside zone, counter, and draw. If you give your players something to hang their hats on, they will perform. If they can run the offense with any scenario they may face, you will be successful in running the ball. If they have all the answers to the problems the defense may give them, they will be good.
The best way to beat the team you are going to play is to have your team play with conviction. Are there any basketball coaches in here? The one thing I cannot understand about their sport occurs in the clutch stages of the game. With the game tied and five seconds left in the game, the coach calls a I am a huge clinic football coach. I love clinics. I time-out. He picks up a whiteboard anddraws a play. have gone to them all my life. The first clinic I I do not know how long I would last in Eugene, attended, I listened to Joe Bugel talk about the Oregonifldidthat. counter trey. He talked about running the counterIf your players have not run that play in a critical trey pass with linemen pulling in both directions. I situation over a thousand times in practice, you will knew we could not run that play. If both the linemen not have a chance to be successful. With our inside were not pulling in the same direction, we could not zone play, we get so much practice time and so do it. many reps that we can handle all the other chance to be successful. I have not stepped over the white sideline and played in a game in about 20 years. You canot play-the players have to be an extension of what you teach them. You have to create the environment and let them play. Youhave to pick and choose things from a clinic scenarios that come about. Instead of trying to that can fit into what you do. You cannot install outscheme your opponent, put your players in an schemes. I hope you can find something that I say environment where they can be successful today that can be adapted to what you do. If you are because they understand exactly what they have looking for a cure-all message, you will not find it todo. here today. Iam going to talk about the inside zone play. Paul I think you can take something out of my talk Brown, the father of modern football, said, "If you can get your players to value the football, you will that you can apply to what you do. Ido not think you take an entire offense or defense. I think you can have a better player." If you tell players today to do take something that fits what you do and apply it to something because I told you so, you will not reach the players that you have. them. We explain to our players why we do the things we do. That gives them a bit of ownership This offense fits for us. This past season, we and they understand much more. finished second in the country in rushing the 141
We count defenders in otr The idea is to bust their sternums up against their offensive scheme. If the offensive In This is physical football. The offensive linemen can count to six. the quarterback is responsible for the sixth man in the box. This is not a finesse play. The quarterback is blocking that defender. 4-2 is four down linemen and two linebackers. Our offensive line is going and the backside tackle has the backside #2. They understand what type of force has to be implemented to throw a guy out of a bar. to the offensive line. Physical. we do ncI' help from their teammates in their blocking scheme. We run the play-action pass and the Distorts the defense bootleg. and the blocks 0.3-2.downhill-running football defender in the defensive scheme. the quarterbD aligns in a five-man box. 3-2 is three down linemen and two linebackers. fronts. The tackle blocks the playside gap tc the guard has the plavside gap to #1.Why do we run the inside zone? The inside zone play is a great equalizer. We are a spread team. You can draw this play up and run it against five different defenses. If tIw create a double-team. and deposit him in the linebacker's lap. . We want to know if it is a 4-l spines on every play. which is the point from where the Inthe basic concept of the play. heblocks to the If we go to the left. He makes the defender respect him as a runner and keeps him out of the play. Youcan play with a tight end or a detached end. his rule is to block his playside If the ball is going to the right. he locates the 0 the ball and be a physical. If the defense is a #3 defender to the backside. 142 defense is a six-man box. What I am going to talk about is what we do. or 3-3 look. under. His rule block #3. play with confidence because they know they have When we coach our offensive line. The inside zone play is our "go to work" play. If he is tight. get into over. so we win. We teach our overcomplicate and spend time teaching defenses offensive linemen a block we call the bust block. People team. it is an easy scheme. We ran this play 202 times this past season. they do not need to kna whether it is an over or under front-our rules PHILOSOPHY OF THE PLAY take care of that. you have a shot to run this play. We want to get off When the center IDs the play. that. We are double-teaming a defensive lineman with a mathematical idea behind it. He cannot physically block him because that is amismatch. We have four legs and he has two legs. knock the crap out of the defense covers the receiver. they cannot get toe defender. He reads the defender and controls him. It has become our signature play. The backside guard blocks the backsitt IDwhat we call the point. many more defenders in the box. the center must starts. A 4-1 look is a college 4-3 alignment. We want to come off the ball. linemen and three linebackers. As long as linemen can count. We want them handling the defender as if they were a bouncer in a bar throwing him out of the bar. If to block five playside defenders.That is not arevolutionary concept We tell our offensive guards and tackles or our centers and guards in their combinations. we want themtobebutt-to-buttandcheek-to-cheekintheir double-team. heblocks to the left. We have great players but we execute it well. 4-2. You spend This play is great against blitzes and twists your time in your meeting trying to explain all because we pick up blocks as they attack gaps. The zone play can be run against multiple looks by the defense. If the responsible for that defender. or stack fronts. We averaged 3-3 look is an odd stack defense with three dow about seven to eight yards per carry with this play.signatureplay Youneed to have complementary plays with Penetrates the front play. This is the offense we run and everyone knows the outside linebacker removed from the box. That keeps defenders from gangingup 00 Physical play in the double-teams runninggame. What he does is run the ball if the defender attacks the running back.
In a 4-1 alignment with no tight end. box. 4-2 end in the 7 technique is the #2 defender. the center for us. two-tight-end. and the defensive end is prototypical crusty old football coach. 3-2 look for the offensive linemen. The 3 technique onthe guard is the #1defender. The defensive end is #2 and the offensive tackle I played quarterback in high school in New blocks him.That is the concept and basis of the spread offense. and we count out with the linebackers as the #1. The right guard has the defensive defensive end is #3 and the quarterback's read. We spread the defense. ran an unbalanced. the count is simple (Diagram #2). If we get a stack look. We averaged five passes agame.werunthezoneplay to the right. Bermuda shorts. I threw EN TE 00000 M Diagram #4. 000000 If you spread a receiver to the outside. The quarterback reads the defensive end in work boots. The outside linebackers will be the #3. the center The tight end has the Sam linebacker. If he bends down for the running back. The rush Diagram #3. Zone Play Left 'IS. With the tight end in the formation against a college 4-3 defense. 4-2 @ 143 . We coming off the right side. If the defensive end Diagram #1. Line Count 'IS. power I formation. The nose is the a point. He coached 13. The nose in the If we run the zone play to the right. makes the Mike linebacker the 0 defender and the linemen count from that designation. Line Count 'Is. and a tank top. In the odd 3-2 look. 4-3 comesupthe field. My high school coach was a backside. That makes it simple If we run the zone play to the left. The Mike linebacker is #1 to the Hampshire. The Will designates the Mike linebacker as the a defender linebacker is the #2 defender. tackle on his outside shoulder. The right tackle has the defensive end on the inside shoulder of the tight end. the tackle is #2. the quarterback pulls the ball and runs out the backside. you must have the ability to throw the ball to him. .The center's rule for identifying the point is the B defender assigned as the A-gap player to the side of the play (Diagram #1). WM ENE S 000000 . the more defenders the defense will put in The Will linebacker is #1 and the guard blocks him there andit becomes a cluttered mess. The more offensive personnel we put in the designates the nose as the a defender (Diagram #3). the center identifies the Mike linebacker as the 0 defender. The backside guard blocks the nose. and the ~ 1 1 2 S tackle blocks the backside linebacker. The 5-technique (Diagram #4). Inside Zone Right vs. we get combination blocks between two linemen blocking in a zone-blocking scheme. the center backside A gap is the #1defender backside. and the Sam linebacker is the #3 defender. The defensive ends will be the 12. so they will declare their defensive Diagram #2.The defensive E N TE end to the left side is the read defender.
do guard handle the center stack. is what we are doing in the zone scheme. the snap. The center and backside every day. I ran up to the head coach andtold him no one was covering the receiver.a lot of touchdowns because there were 90 million his handoff key. but he his side. I split the receiver and no one on the defense went out to cover him. move him up in his alignment. as the coach. Youhave to adjust the alignment depending on the player.lfheisgettingthere If the defense is a 3-3 stack scheme. Adjust his alignment. I was so excited. He thought that was a bunch of college buil. which is the mechanics of the play. To the can do on Tuesday. the quarterback knows he is going to hand the ball off and there is no read. What you have to do. I went back and part is the how. The running back will be anywhere from fiveand-a-half to seven yards off the line of scrimmage. use it in the game on Friday. I tell him he is like a shortstop in baseball. That is why we work so hard to perfect the skill. The quarterback gets in an athletic stance. back him up.l finally talked him into splitting a receiver.movehisalignmentup. The middle not get into this type of set. If you are not going to practice that. You do not want to slow a good back down. you have to throw the ball to the receiver so the defense will honor him. When we work on the snaps. I learned on that day. If he is detached. in college. cannot be a hundred percent focused on the ball. His toes are at five yards. Youmust practice defenders in the box. In the square stance. If the defense walks the #3 defender to the backside out into coverage. coached for him. somebody. The running back's toes are at six-and-ahalf yards. and playside. That also dependson the back. Since we had never been out of the power I. his speed to time up the play. Diagram #5. If he is late to thehole. we split players and threw the ball to them. I have seen quarterbacks take the snap with their feet in a The backside tackle steps into his playside gap stagger. either side as easily. I [£] intentionally snap the ball bad to make him concentrate. That is the starting point but it is more of aguideline than a rule. If the back is slower. We ran it in practice. get him back in the box sohe can block. He has to see what the defense is doing. The alignment is not the same the shotgun snap with your quarterback and center but it does not matter. 3-3 Stack 144 ~"01 /~JJ . Youhave to spend a lot of time on the stacked linebacker is '2. It is like the 4-2 scheme because there are six I am a big fundamental coach. but never try to slow down designate the nose as the 0 defender (Diagram #5). he can The quarterback reads the remaining defender for move rjght or left with equal ease.lf the tight end is tight. That looks good but he cannot move to and takes whichever player comes into that gap. Good. Hetold me. We had Jonathan Stewart a couple of years ago and he played at seven yards. You can have the quarterback at four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half yards. the defense thought the receiver was going to get a drink. He has to be able to see both the ball ss and the defense. Now. he has the same rule. The depth of the quarterback is five yards from the line of scrimmage. This is a very simple concept. The next When I got out of college. I told him. We think the right ratio is 75 percent on the ball and25 percent on the defense. is to figure out when the back is hitting the hole. he blocks the #3 defender who is the force player to The quarterback has to catch the snap. the defensive end is the #1 defender and expect it to work. That defenders within three yards of the ball. It is not something you linebacker is the backside #1 defender. we too soon.
It has to look like type of play you run. He cannot get the ball pulled and stop running. eesh. The step looks like the letter J. and it has to go the other. if he jiggles in the hole. If the the other way. He says. That ets the running back get his eyes upfor his read on the defense. If the ball ends up on the have to make the defense defend the entire field. As he gets the handoff and makes a decision to take the ball frontside or cut it back. someone has to be responsible it is hitting one way. the quarterback is responsible for the mesh. if you do not harp on it in practice. His second step replaces the spot where the quarterback's foot was. When the running back receives the ball. expect it." Youhave to get that fundamental down and you do not. he starts to square his shoulders to the line of scrimmage. The second fundamental on this play is the fake Ntlen you do not have the ball. he makes one cut. of the play. If hedoes that. We want them going The quarterback is responsible for the read. Everyone in the stadium andon the »fense knows who has the ball. The philosophy I have in coaching is: If you yards on the defense. If the line can get up two doing.he tells the running back. the line and get the tough yards. The running back takes a slight open step with his playside foot. He needs to stay frontside on the quarterback is reading the defensive end and the play when he does not have the ball. ball will be on the ground. On his third step. you are accepting what happens at practice and you can expect it to happen on Friday night. They have running back hits the gap. If he gets downhill and runs hard.The philosophy of the play to talk about the mesh and know what they are is a tough running play. running back is reading linebacker movement. The action has to look the same whether he has the ball or not. If we have someone to block the backside defensive end. We call it a J-path. It is not a great play the quarterback hands off to the running back and eatches himrun. not speed to the hole. he gets a loaf. However. It does not matter what That is the concept of the play. When he makes his cut to the line. The running back takes his step and aims at the butt of the frontsideguard. the practice. It may not be exactly where it was but it is close. If they do not talk about what is him to jam the ball into the hole and be a tough going on with the handoff. expect turnovers. We do not want a jingle-footed back trying the ground on Friday night. Our players communicate the handoff We tell the running back to read the first down mechanics on every single play in the game. he brings the The running back is responsible for the mesh. However. he changes speeds and runs through the hole. The line will have a hat on the five defenders in the box. on every down. As he gets the snap. and every day. he drops his leg to the side of the ballcarrier. it is because the running back and Youmust not let the defense gang upon one aspect quarterback did not communicate enough. 'Mesh. ground. The unblocked defenders on the perimeter are following the ballcarrier. defense to the quarterback. That allows the back to take a path to the attack area. 145 . he runs to daylight. expect the ball to be on runner. You for the mesh every time. We grade the running back on his fakes. That is a hard thing to coach. has to accelerate off the disconnect in the mesh area.lf he expands in the gap. When we talk to the back. We want him to hit the ball into mistakes i1 the handoff. The quarterback collar guy going to work. If the quarterback is responsible for the mesh. in lineman to the playside. he is at 85-percent speed. It is important for the running back not to cut back in the direction of the quarterback when he is faking without the ball. If he does not penetrate the line of scrimmage on his fake. Obviously. We want accept it. they will make the tackle. it is hard for them to make the tackle. We are a blueWe do not always read the backside end. We give the back the opportunity to run the same path every time he receivers the ball. the back can too.The same rules apply to the running back. the when he has the ball. we tell him it is speed through the hole. I will not accept to hit a home run.
The option can put the ball in his hands. Gary Campbell. he can come off.Vision is a big part of the success of this play.The outside zone is a hole-to-bounce ~Iay. If the running back is continually getting tackled by the defensive end.8 yards per carry. He can paint pictures with words. The who we block is the same. We want to run off the ball andbe physical. does a good job of that. It is like elephants on break. We try to get to the outside shoulder. You tell the player with the ball to take it to the basket. he plants his foot in the ground and goes at a 90-degree angle running north and south. We want the ball in the running back's hands. play. When we talk about this play. and the offensive line can play with confidence when you have something to change the focus of ~he defense. there are two ways to approach it.you overcomplicate the play. If the defender commits. If he cannot get outside. he takes it to the corner. We ran the outside zone 122 times last Onour double-team blocks. This is a downhill play and the line is blocking for the running back. The outside zone is good against multiple looks. That girl is in the A gap and you are going for her. Down linemen make tackles for the offensive line are the same as the inside zone. It is amazinghow many cutbacks we got after he gave them that analogy. we run the outside zone play. We adjust the path of the running 146 .We do not want the quarterback carrying the ball. Before you decide to commit. That is something they can practice in the ott-season. The Never disengagefrom adouble-team block andhave backside opens on the playside foot and loses ground. we fun them as far as we can. This is a great play against two high safeties. If we have not reached them by the third step. get rid of the ball. That is not what happens. the quarterback should be pulling the ball. We are flatter to the line of scrimmage as we rip off the ball (Diagram #6). It is a good to stay on the double-team until someone has complement to the inside zone. you become uncertain. and the running back is the player who must catch up to the blocking scheme. The reason we run the outside play is to circle the defense. the defenders beginto tighten their techniques andconcentrate on squeezingthe insidegaps.It is a cut-up play. not read anything. We run off the line of scrimmage and get into the defenders. losses. At a clinic.sogivehim the ball. it piles up everyone coming behind that block.to three-yard gains. karaoke crossover step to get up the field. but the how secure the down lineman before we think about we block is the difference on the outside zone. scan the room andhave a look at the girl over there. but IfII8 do attack. OUf running backs coach. If the blocker reaches the defender on the third step. The blocking rules for the down linemen. When you read. We want the quarterback to give the ball unless he cannot. Linebackers dance around the pile and make The difference is the aiming point of the offensive tackles for two. He told the running backs it is like they are out on a Saturday night and see a good-looking girl. That creates a seam. This is not a cutback play. The coming off on the linebacker. The outside zone play is a complement to the inside zone play. we tell the linemen season for 6. we say this is the zone read play. When you start to talk about the read player's shoulders Of jersey number. When you get good at running the inside zone. control of the defender. If the linebacker is linemen take a kick-step to the outside and a within anarm's length of the block. If we feel that happening or we start to get many twists and blitzes on the inside. We want to take care of This is a pure zone play. The farther you are from the point of to run to get to the linebacker.The inside zone is a hole-to-cutback It is a stretch play. The technique we use against the defenders is. the more ground you can lose. The thing we cannot allow is penetration. The analogy is a z-on-t fast break. but the defense can force it out of his hands. It gives you speed in space. If he can get the ball outside. This may sound like a contradiction. We must linemen.rip and run. They are going to jam the ball into the A gap unless they see something thatis prettier.
they are thinking about the wrong thing. . we run other plays using those depths. your feet are not. I know I went fast.. Myoid high school coach told me a long time ago. I really believe he is the best offensive line coach in the country. However. In this set. you will be fooled. "H your head is moving. but I hope you got something from this talk. If that is the key. We have to put our players in the best position to make sure they are successful. you have a good chance to win. I think the system we run helps our offensive linemen. The alignment is something you cannot key. We also move the back and shift to different places in our formations. The running back has to take at least two steps past the quarterback before we allow him to cut up. you have an opportunity to win the game. The key is to make sure they know what they are doing. That allows the back to run the flat path to the outside. I do not think anyone on our offensive line was offered a scholarship coming out of high school. you are not doing it as fast. It is easy to disguise the alignment of the backs. it will not be because they read the setup of the backs.The five offensive linemen are the key to your football team. We do not :tVnk the back can make the cut from the deep position. 4-2 If the defense is looking at the depth of the backs and trying to figure out what play is coming. Our offensive line leads the country in yards per carry and rushing touchdowns and we only run four plays in the running game. I want to leave you with some things we try to do. Outside Zone vs. Thank you very much. M 7+_ E~ ~_ 7 ~ Diagram #6. If the defense stops the play. 147 . Yousee two distinct levels on the two plays.They are an impressive group of guys and they shop at True Value$Hardware for clothes. we want the back at about five yards and the quarterback at six yards." That means if you are thinking about what to do. Steve Greatwood is an unbelievable offensive line coach. If you can keep it simple for the players in the offensive line so they have confidence going into a game. W. If you can get those players to play up to their potential. The offensive line plays with conviction.lack and the depth of the quarterback.