Stupidest Inside Zone

So one thing I have been doing a lot of thinking/soul searching about this off season is the Inside Zone play.  I have visited a few coaches, very well respected spread and TFS coaches and OL guys and they have all been shocked that we ran no IZ last year.

2 years ago we tried running IZ and OZ as our base… it was a mess… Varsity really sucked at it, with my JV at the time I kind of scrapped it and focused on a counter/OZ/trap/power.  I was helping coach the varsity kids and it seemed like once we split up their OL went to crap for whatever reason.

This past season I moved up to do the Varsity OL and the OC and I felt best with using a gap scheme… Block down and kick out everything.  Mid season we added a track/reach blocking OZ scheme (we called sweep) that we used for RB and QB sweeps.  We actually had decent success with it.

I recently got the OC job so as I am trying to narrow down our focus for plays in the future I have begun talking to other coaches.  One in particular has been urging me to use IZ, he made some great points… with a down and kick out scheme only, we have nothing to keep DTs honest… they can fly blindly up field and try to disrupt things, we don’t force them to maintain gap integrity or move laterally.

I also wanted something easier than the dive play we ran last year.  We would block the dive differently depending on the front, which I didn’t love because there was no set rules for them.  The fold block we often used on this was a quick trigger key for LBs and whenever we faced a good inside LB he would make the play.

So looking at how I plan to use my playbook I began strongly thinking about adding IZ back into the mix as one of our core 4 run plays.  The doubles we work daily would have a lot of carry over to the doubles we will use on our Counter and Power (Dash) schemes… just rotating to backside backer of course.

When I taught IZ before I did plenty of research, had all the lingo, the steps the uncovered/covered principles, blah blah blah and if anything I think coaches over coach certain aspects of it.  Looking back, our kids did so much thinking and wondering who has who…when to come off to LB? that we got no surge up front, no movement, either lateral or horizontal and there was always a DL in our backfield tackling the RB.

The 2 RBs we will have next year our scary shifty, if we can just get them to the LOS without getting touched I think they will find creases and pop some runs so I am now 100% for installing IZ on day one of spring ball… BUT I will be installing what I consider to be the stupidest, most dumbed down , easy (probably some OL gurus will say WRONG) way of teaching IZ.

I also want this to be something that can be run easily at the Freshman  and JV levels… simple rules and then build from there.

Because we are in spread… the only looks we ever really see inside are 4-1/4-2 or 3-2/3-3

A handful of teams have tried a 5-1 but this is what we will see 95% of the time.

For example sake I will say we are running IZ Right throughout the rest of this article.

So I have been drawing up IZ looks against different shades, fronts, and the system I have works out.

This is probably the wrong way to teach IZ … it’s watered down dumb but I think it will work for us because it is simple and we see a lot of fairly vanilla fronts.

Rule #1

  • If someone is anywhere in your play side Gap (or head up) you base block them.

Rule #2

  • If not then you are working to double. The guards are the key for the doubles.

In a standard 4 man front (whether they align 1-3, 3-1, or double 2s) the guard will be working with the OL to the backside

In a 3 man front, the guard will be working to double with the OL to his front side.

Center ID’s fronts every play anyway… 4-2 nic, 3-2 box , etc.  so there should never be any confusion on which way the doubles are working

What I must do a better job of this year is coaching the double teams, we WILL get hip to hip and stay on the double, I won’t allow us to even see a LB on any sort of IZ for as long as possible.
I did a bad job coaching the doubles 2 years ago and I know I will do a much better job of coaching it up now.  I got a great nugget on coaching the IZ double from someone on coachhuey… can’t remember right now who it was that said it but it was essentially, “The RB will bring the LB to you, don’t even think about stopping the double team until one of you can reach out and touch the LB”  Later in Summer when we progress to this that is exactly how I will teach it.

While we will always try to get a double I understand that if we run IZ

Which LB?
Now eventually a time will come when we have to push to LB… which LB do I have?  I started getting away from labeling LBs by name… Middle, play side, backside, front side, SAM , will, mike… it can get too messy.  I instead began numbering LBs… if running right we would start from right to left.

There has to be a relationship between the number of LBs inside the box and the DL… We can really only see 1 LB in the box (which essentially means they have to be in a 4-1, maaaaybe a 5-1 but rare).   A 2 LB system would mean either 4-2 or 3-2.  And finally a 3 LB system would likely mean 3-3 (a team could be in 4-3 but they’d have a hard time keeping those OLBs in the box vs our 4 wide)

So since we now have our backers numbered it makes it , IMO easier to identify who has who… No matter how you slice it…
Play side Double Team is responsible for #1 LB
Backside Double Team is responsible for #2 LB (If there is one)
Backside tackle would be responsible for running through B gap to #3 LB in a 3-3 stack look.

Carry Over to Gap Schemes
These rules are the same for our Counter/Power game… instead of saying push the double team to the backside LB on counter… We know a puller is coming to account for the #1 LB in either scheme, so we know we can push the double team/down block track play side to the #2 LB

Goal line/Short yardage
Now, if we saw some sort of goal line D with everyone in a gap, everyone sticks with rule #1… someone in my play side gap I base block em.  We would all block the man to the right and run our feet… I think a lot more base blocks and double team blocks will help establish the type of physical attitude I want from my offense and most importantly my OL.

This is where I feel most coaches way over do it… they are 16 year old kids… They get tired, they are gonna take false steps at times, they are NEVER going to be perfect at taking a 37 degree angle divided by Pi (r^2) /the defenders radius x -9.8m/s^2…. or whatever I have seen some coaches teach.  Most coaches teach 3 different steps in the IZ game, I have seen as much as 4 different steps… If my kid is thinking that much, how fast is he getting off the ball and how aggressively?  I don’t like it, call me stupid but I think less is more.

I want 2 steps… a Zone step and a double step.

Zone step if someone is head up/play side gap.  We will also zone step if I am working a double team to the play side…Step aiming at the DL far foot… looking to double.

Double step will be used if I have no DL head up/play side Gap and I am doubling with backside team mate (think RG vs a 1 tech… he knows he doubles with the Center on 1 tech)
IZ Right…6 inch step straight up field with Right foot (2nd step would be with left foot, left foot should bring you hip to hip with Center to push the double.

The same technique would be used by LT and LG on a backside 3 tech.  This technique would also be used by RT when doubling with RG on Counter/Power.

Well that will be my version of Inside Zone… I understand I am doing it a little different but I think that is the best way to teach it to my kids based on the looks I know we will see most often next year.

I am going to commit to being a great IZ coach this year because ideally I want to just run IZ, OZ, Counter, and Dash (power scheme)… I have been toying around with ISO and Dart schemes but I think this could easily take the place of those WHEN we get those doubles right.

IZ Gurus please don’t beat me up for making your pretty play ugly.  I am going to do some different things this year, the best piece of advice I have gotten this year was from a coach who actually encouraged me to fail… “Failing means you’re trying new stuff and learning on the fly… it’s your first year as THE OC… you might lose your team as many games as you win…but remember you were just 6-5 last year… you guys were way better, and you’re clearly going in the right direction…but at the end of the day you won 1 more game than you lost, your school has never won any sort of championship in football and losing games clearly is no reason for them to fire you otherwise plenty of their coaches would have been fired long ago.”

That stuck with me… I want to make my own brand of football… been a TFS client but I see myself splitting off from “those guys” in a slightly different path.

Well, here goes my journey in my first year as an OC 🙂

3 ways of running Draw with one convenient blocking scheme

I was asked to do a post on the DRAW play by a member on coachhuey, so I will explain exactly how I teach my draw blocking.

I want to first state that up until this season I HATED draw… I know every coach says “you gotta have a draw”… But to me draw can be an unsafe play the way most do it, I often see OL so anxious to get up to LBs that coaches actually teach them to not block the DL… Expecting them to run right past the RB… I’ve never understood that one.

I’ve noticed one thing about draw from watching football my entire life… Do You know when draw gets you a good gain?

When it’s 3rd and 20, you pick up 10 … Now it’s 4th and 10 and you still have to punt.

Also I don’t want to teach anything new, I try to be a minimalist with my OL… Now, rant aside… I’ll explain the idea I had this season, I told our OC that this was the only way I was willing to put draw in the play book.

To understand our draw you must first look at our pass protection. The beauty in the way I do draw is that I have nothing new schematically to teach… We will block draw exactly how we would pass pro the given front…makes it simple and to the defense everything looks just like every other pass attempt.

Next, we must understand that I want a hat on a hat. Against a 5 man box it is easy, my 5 have their 5, against a 6 man box I’d prefer to run QB draw because we get a hat on a hat that way.

Let’s take a look at draw vs a 5 man box.

Against a 5 man box, each OL is assigned a defender, we set as in every other pass, then we punch and drive block the defender… Take him where he wants to go, the most Important thing is to stay engaged. Against a 4 man front I give my center and guard the privilege of setting and then folding a 1 tech… No matter what they know how to block the front. If I really wanted to I could call QB draw and RB would end up doubling on one of the ILBs.

Next we move to a 6 man box, the important thing to notice is that now the back is responsible for an ILB in the protection scheme.

The RB has the LB to his side, and that who he is responsible for on draw, if we ran QB draw he would hop hop then attack him. If we ran a RB draw he is 1 on 1 with him and we tell him he has to win that battle.

IMO the best way to run RB draw into a 6 man box is off of a sprint out look. We had a lot of success with it this year and it sets up nicely because we run a good amount of sprint out. OL blocks it the same way… They know their fronts and they know what draw means to them. I’ve found that the sprint out action really messes with the LBs and they over flow, giving that RB more space to work with when he is 1 on 1 with that LB. We had a lot of big plays on this, puts that play side backer in a bind… “Do I work laterally with sprinting out QB or do I sit here for the Draw?”… Either way when he guesses wrong it’s going to be a big play for us.

The sprint Draw ends up being similar to the “Ole Wing T Sally” play.

Utilizing this way of teaching draw my feelings about the play have completely changed… I know it will be a solid part of our offense next year.  This is a high MPG (yes miles per gallon) play IMO, we don’t have to invest much time in it compared to the mileage we get out of it.

Changing the way I run my weight room

This is my first “mobile” post… Hoping this app works alright which will allow me to do some blogging from school.

We began our off season program when we got back from the holidays… I’ve run a weight program every year I’ve coached but felt it was an area I needed to improve on. The lifts and progression were fine it was just the overall way I did things I needed to improve on.

In the past I was too loose, almost begging kids to lift, letting things slide like showing up late, wearing jeans or slippers, sitting down etc. I decided that if I was essentially going to donate 2 hours of my life 3 days a week from now through June then I was going to do things on my terms.

We had some success this past season, but we are still in what I would consider to be a rebuilding phase, I don’t want to settle for making the playoffs once, I want to turn this place into a REAL PROGRAM.

So now if a kid isn’t there when we start our warm up at 3:30 they get sent home. The first few days if a kid sat down I ripped them as loud as I could in front of the whole team… No one has sat down the entire week.

I remember something I heard 1000x in my teacher credential program… “Students will rise to the standards you set”

I have raised the level of expectations and accountability and they have responded well. I am especially happy with our freshman class , we have 20+ freshman per day which for our school is a HUGE deal.

I have adopted a MWF lifting split, total body each day. I looked ahead and saw we have a ton of holidays… So to maximize our workout days I made a calendar of every day from now through the end of school… I put our workout phases on the calendar and adjust the length of each phase to try to get our testing/Deload weeks on the weeks with a Monday off. If we are going to have to lose a day I want it to be when we are testing. I can still get all of our testing done in the other 2 days of that week.

I believe the biggest difference maker is now I time everything we do.
In the past I would list the lifts, and say go ahead… I was too trusting the kids would actually get everything done. I did this because it was all I knew, my HS coaches did it with me… And I always did all my lifts. However most kids are different, many try to hide or skip out on doing things, or they lift without going as heavy as they should.

Now I put the students I to groups of 3 or 4. We have 6 lifts per day. In our weight room I am able to get two locations to do each lift.

So we can easily handle 6 lifts x 2 groups x 4 kids per group = 48 lifters. We’ve never had more than 40… If/when we get over 48 I’ll have to adjust somewhat but this system works well now.

I assign groups and starting positions. Up to 2 groups go to each lifting station to begin.

I give each group 10-11 minutes to finish that lift… No time for BS… They lift, rack it, switch weights, and next lifter in order to finish on time. I walk around weight room coaching technique and giving time shout outs so they know if they need to pick up their pace at all. Once time is up we all rotate to the next lift and the process begins again.

We can get 6 lifts done in about an hour this way and I’m still able to get the kids out by about 4:45 if we aren’t doing any speed work prior to lifting.

A “Pro Style” approach to the spread offense

I was asked by a reader to talk about the use of a series based offense.  There has also been a lot of talk on coachhuey about series based offense, and using a series based approach within a spread offense.

I think being in spread puts more emphasis on thinning out the defense, making them defend the entire field and utilizing numbers and leverage to move the ball, but one can still use a series based approach to play the if/then game when a defender or defenders begin to “cheat” their responsibilities in order to make a stop.  Offense is all about putting defenders in conflict.

I started drawing up this little series of plays when this season ended.  I looked at how I used to do things out of 2 back under center, and the play action game we had a lot of success with.  I am normally a fan of staying as maximally spread out as possible, for example this past season 100% of our snaps were from 10 or empty personnel… no TE EVER, no 2 Back EVER.  The majority of the season we had a QB who wasn’t necessarily a great runner, looking back I think the added back or TE could have helped us since our QB didn’t really read BSDE and we didn’t run him very often.  Next year we have 2 QBs who can fly and will be more than capable of reading BSDE and designed QB runs.  However I have set up this little package as something that can be used without a running QB, year in, year out, regardless of talent.  Now if you get a kid who can run it and throw it, then it just opens up the options you have even more.

Please excuse the crude drawings… I’ve tried a bunch of different playbook software, but still find good old microsoft paint the easiest.

I base this series out of an Off-Set I look, just in the gun.  Y by our base alignment is our slot WR, he can be moved to either right or left side, or with the use of a “YO” tag he can come down to a TE position if we feel that will help us.  For this article’s sake , all of the drawings are with Y as a slot and H in the offset “full back” position.  Our “H” is our slot WR as well when we are in 1 back, this is a good fit for that “tweener” type of kid.

QB is at 4.5 yards, RB at 6, H even with the QB and aligned over B gap… might play with these alignments, but this is what I have seen a lot of teams do.
Every play in this 4 play series begins with the QB catching the snap and opening to the Left (counter clockwise) and with the RB stepping to the left of the QB.  That is what sets up the series based approach, the fact that the initial movement of the QB and F look the same on every play
1. Power
Standard Power G scheme to the Left.  Playside OL will down block or double to backside LB. FB kicks out DE, BSG skip pulls to playside ILB.  BST hinge blocks BSDE.  QB can sell dropback or boot action after he hands off to F.  If, let’s say, the defense aligns in 2 high look (4-3) then I would have the playside down/double to MLB, and BSG would skip pull to the LOLB.
Schematically, if my H can get a semi decent kickout block I should be OK, my playside OL has good angles and we account for every hat with the exception of the LOLB in the above look.  Now his alignment can vary depending on how the defense wishes to play it, but they have to give something up.  He may stay with a wide alignment to help that corner with our X WR underneath.  If talent is equal, I think my guys should be able to win those battles up front and we will get 4-5 yards a pop on POWER.  The only one who can really stop it is the LOLB.
That is the next part in the series, taking advantage of that LOLB when he wants to make the tackle on power. We can run a play action pass in to that LOLB and catch him cheating
#2 Flood Left
 If we slide pass pro the OL right, it looks just like the playside down blocks on Power.  H will attack DE and chip him as he slips into the flat. F fakes Power Left and runs right at that playside DE. (I could also have my OL just block man on if I was worried about the RB on the DE ) X Clears out, Y runs the deep crossing route, Z runs a backside post and we end up in a pretty standard Flood Concept to the playside.
I would probably semi roll the QB to it after he fakes, most times he will be able to hit the H in the flats right now, if the LOLB does recognize it as a pass and chases the H, the Y will likely come open when he gets all the way across.  I can also help my Y by using the YO tag which will bring him in so he doesn’t have as far to run to get across.
Now let’s say the inside LBs are really flowing hard to blow up Power, or we get secondary rotation to where our QB is opening we can hit them with Counter back to the strong side.
#3 Counter
coachhuey knows how much I love the counter scheme.  Doing it from this set allows us to block the backside DE, and by removing Y from the box we can remove a LB.
QB still opens up to the left, F steps Left like he is getting power, then plants and gets the hand off over the top of the QB to run counter Right.
Standard Counter Scheme up front, playside OL blocking down/doubling to backside LB, Center blocking back, BSG pull and Kick, BST pull up to LB.
Inserting H allows us to block the backside DE.
Now depending on the type of kid I had at Y, I could bring him down to a TE position, to widen the playside DE, he would down block on the PSILB, and the tackle would pull to that OLB who would likely condense with the Y condensing in YO.  Just depends on the kid I have there, how I would handle it.
Lastly when teams begin to jump the counter, we can hit them with another play action flood concept.
#4 Flood Right
Same concept that we had to the left.  Ol can man protect or slide it. H can chip DE on his way out to help the protection, F sells counter. QB can half roll to it if that makes it easier and we get our standard flood to the playside.  Again, I can mix in the YO tag if I want.
These 4 plays(really only 3) are simple, effective and can yield a lot of mileage.  They are good under center and in the gun.  I could easily seeing us install this package, plus 4 verts and do nothing but work that for the first week of spring ball.
Looking Beyond these 4 plays
While I think this is a pretty good start to an offense, I do not think that it is enough by itself to beat a good team.  These are some ideas I have just glancing at the formation.
Screen Game, all of our screen game exists still, really with little to no changes.  We can fake run and throw screen to either direction, this would especially be good if we get soft corner over X and the OLB wants to crowd into the box to play run.
We can use an OZ scheme and run stretch, or just pitch the ball to F going to the H side (Left in the above diagrams). H would lead block on the OLB, OL just uses OZ to seal the edge.
I have seen teams run sweep (OZ) with H going to the right, and having F lead block around he edge for him… one could use this or the inverted veer Dash concept with H has the one getting the ball.  F would lead block to the Right in either case, H would come across the QB as he is reading the Right DE, OL uses the Power G scheme that they already have a ton of reps in because Power G was the first play installed in the series.
We are already in a 7 man protection, we could run the outside WRs on anything we want deep to exploit a 1 on 1 match up with the corner and we can use Y to control the middle with a search route.
I can go ISO either way very easily.
If I wanted to get into a triple option look, I can use H as the dive on veer, or have him run zone and read BSDE… with F stepping around running pitch relation.  I could run a loaded speed option quite easily.
I could easily get in to the air raid staples of mesh, shallow, stick etc. (they started from 2 back offense anyway)
Heck I’d still probably be able to get H up the Hash and run 4 verts from this set.
These are just some examples of simple things that could be done from this formation beyond the 4 play series I started with.  If I wanted to include more QB runs because he was a kid I wanted to feed there are a number of ways I can do so.  Naked QB runs after fakes to F, I can run follow plays with the QB to really try to overload a defense by having H and F lead block for QB.
Again I can use the option plays mentioned above (dash,veer,zone triple,speed option)
Now of course everything I mentioned would probably be TOO MUCH offense to ever get really good at something, but a few of those ideas can be picked out, added to the 4 play series I started with and then you have an entire offense that can stretch the field in any direction as well as put defenders in conflict.
One other benefit is in short yardage or goal line…Many people feel spread can not work in short yardage situations… I do not agree with this, but say for some reason (weather, injury to Center) I did not want to be in the gun, I could pretty easily go under center and run this series pretty much the same way, I would just need a little bit of work with the QB on the footwork, because in Gun he just catches and turns.
Being an OC in HS is all about putting the 17 year old kids on defense in conflict, so much internal conflict and sadness that after the game they turn Emo…