January 3, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Vincent Smith (2) carries around the end against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the third quarter in the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan Football: Coach Borges Offensive Run Schemes -- Zone Blocking Schemes -- X's and O's Made Easier

Posted at 6:00am — 4/10/2012

Michigan Football: Coach Borges Offensive Run Schemes — Zone Blocking Schemes — X’s and O’s Made Easier

There are two types of zone blocking, outside zone, or stretch blocking, and inside zone blocking. The blocking schemes can be used to run multiple plays. Inside zone is generally used for plays executed between the offensive tackles, such as the read option, ISO play, and straight zone. Stretch or outside zone blocking is used on plays that target the area outside the offensive tackles, such as the jet sweep and the stretch play.

How are the two schemes similar?

Both types of zone blocking have the same two rules. Rule #1 involves being covered or uncovered; rule #2 is the blocker works for a double team. Some teams will use a 3rd
rule determined by the play-side or backside.

Another similarity is both schemes have all linemen step in the same direction. When running blocking scheme 32 zone, all linemen step to the right, and on 33 zone all linemen step to the left. Both calls also employ a short first step to the designated blocking side.

In addition, the position of the helmet is huge, although the position of the helmet is directed to different spots.

Both blocking schemes employ the punch, a technique to slow down angling linemen and allow a teammate to get to his proper place.

In both schemes linemen are taught to sprint (or run full speed) once the double is achieved.

November 26, 2011; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) hands off to running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (28) in the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Differences between inside and outside zone blocking schemes:

The first difference is the offensive linemen’s first step. In stretch blocking the linemen step at a 45-degree angle to the line of scrimmage. For inside zone plays the linemen step flat to the line of scrimmage.

The 45-degree step is used because in stretch blocking as it is important for linemen to get vertical so they can push the defender or stretch the defense to the sidelines. This 45-degree step intends that the feet end up heal to toe.

With the inside zone assignment, the first step is flat because preventing penetration is paramount. This means that the linemen’s feet are in line with each other with no stagger.

The second difference is the aiming point of the linemen. In stretch blocking the linemen’s aiming point is the far arm or armpit of the defensive linemen. Whereas with the inside zone, the aiming point is the center of the defender’s body.

In stretch blocking the primary goal is to cover the far number of the defender. With the inside zone, the blocker is trying to cover the defender’s body and not get to the far number. When executing the stretch block the helmet needs to be just above the far number, whereas with inside zone blocking the helmet needs to be right below the chin. Without proper helmet location performing the key difference needed for success in both assignments will be almost impossible.

Another paramount difference is how to move the defender. With stretch blocking, the assignment is to run or push the defender to the sidelines. The blocker is literally trying to stretch or gain separation in the defense. With inside zone, the blocker is trying to move the defender vertical, thereby moving the line of scrimmage backwards.

January 3, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) prepares to hand off the ball during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

Moving the line of scrimmage backwards allows the running back or quarterback to cutback through the backside seam for big yardage.

The next point is not directly related to blocking, but is key to understanding the difference between the inside and outside schemes. The point involves the running back’s course. In the stretch play the running back’s aiming point is the inside leg or hip of the tight end. If there is no tight end, most teams call the aiming spot ghost tight end and use the same point. With the inside zone, the running back’s aiming point is the inside leg of the play side offensive guard. This allows the running back, or quarterback, to cut through either the play side or backside A and B gaps. That makes this scheme tough to defend if the backside defenders do not maintain gap integrity, in which case the defense will give up big chunks of yardage. Think ASU and Oregon last year.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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