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Two Inside Zone Drills

This is an excerpt from Complete Offensive Line by Rick Trickett.

Inside Zone Versus an Under Front

Against the under front (figure 9.4), the offense must know what kind of nose guard they are up against. Is he quick? Can he run? Is he a big run stopper and gap player? Can the center handle him one on one or does he need help?

The offensive linemen execute their assignments:

Tight end: tight reach block

Tackle: tight reach block

Guard: stretch step, run track to linebacker

Center: reach nose guard or call for “pop” to get help from the play-side guard

Backside guard: power slip to linebacker

Backside tackle: power slip with guard

If the center calls for help from the play-side guard (figure 9.5), the guard should use the drive block technique with his outside foot over and up. The inside foot and inside arm should come straight off, and he should make contact with the same foot and shoulder. The guard should stay on the double team as long as possible. The play-side linebacker will read isolation and step right up to the guard. When the linebacker gets even with the guard, the guard comes off and blocks him. If there is a 1-technique or gap player, the guard doubles him out to the linebacker.

Inside Zone Versus a 4-3 Defense

This should be an effective play because of all the bubbles in the 4-3 defense. The backside 1-technique player must be controlled on this play. The center should make a presnap read on the depth and alignment of the middle linebacker. The center should not overzone the linebacker or let him fall back inside on the play.

The offensive linemen execute their assignments:

Tight end: tight reach block

Tackle: stretch step, run track to linebacker

Guard: tight reach block

Center: stretch step, run track to Mike linebacker

Backside guard: cut off 1-technique player

Backside tackle: stretch step, run track to linebacker

The zone and stretch plays should look as similar as possible on the first stretch step. Helmet placement is very important, especially on inside zone plays. The goal is to get the defender running hard to the outside, if possible. If the defenders are big run stoppers, the linemen need to be ready to drop their hips and knock them off the ball. At the very least, they need to hold the line of scrimmage. Against any inside pinch moves, the uncovered lineman should be ready to double with the covered lineman (figure 9.6). The uncovered lineman should aim his second step to a point behind the defender's inside foot. The uncovered lineman needs to be able to stop all penetration and maintain the line of scrimmage. If two offensive linemen must be used on a pinch defender, then they let the linebacker go free.

Versus an under shift of the defensive front (figure 9.7), power combo blocks are a must. The covered offensive lineman must keep his play-side arm free and out of the block so he is able to come off if the linebacker attacks the line of scrimmage.

If the Sam linebacker walks up on the line of scrimmage, the tackle and tight end must make an out call.

If the nose guard is aligned in a shaded position on the center (figure 9.8), he needs to stretch step to the play-side A gap and work the same foot, same shoulder on the nose guard. He hangs for the backside guard as long as possible and then comes off on the Mike linebacker when the Mike linebacker commits to the line of scrimmage.

Another change-up that can be used is to fold the backside with the guard and center. The center works a back block to the V of the nose guard's neck. The guard executes a drop step and pulls to the play-side A gap to block the Mike linebacker (figure 9.9).



Learn more about Complete Offensive Line.

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