Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Zone Read- creating multiple plays by using tags

Its been a busy month. And i know youve all (all 3 of you) have been anxiously awaiting my next post so here it is. 
The Zone Read. Creating multiple plays by using tags.

As I mentioned earlier, in this system there are 5 schemes (I added one this month) for the OL to learn. IZ,OZ, Power, Counter, and TED. Simple. The complexity comes from the Power series that I explained earlier (here), the Flash/Flow Jet series (to be explained in a later post) and the Zone read series.

I love Outside Zone. 
And I love giving the quarterback an option to keep the ball on the BS.
Having the ability to create plays on the backside of OZ as well as IZ creates an incredible bind on the defense. The horizontal stretch of the zone read demands that a defense plays fast and smart. They must be able to move laterally. It also requires all players to play their assignment soundly on every play. I will show you multiple backside tags for IZ/OZ, and show you how it puts pressure on the D and what player it puts pressure on in particular. All of these reads can be on the BS of IZ or OZ, so I will just show the rules of the BS linemen.

  • "Solo" 
Solo means the BS option is the QB keeping it by himself. This is your old fashioned read of the EMLOS. Easiest read to install and most simple.
Read ("Dead" player)- EMLOS. 
BSG- 1st Live player
BST- 2nd Live player

This video has a ton of em.

"Gun Rt Slot 20 Solo" vs. Even look

"Gun Rt Slot Flex 20 Solo" vs. Odd look


This option puts pressure on the edge player, as he must either play the Runningback on the zone or the QB keep. It also puts pressure on the first backer inside the read. If he gets caught up with the play fake to the back and the QB keeps it, it can be an easy 6.

  • "Option"
The Option tag is also simple, as it is just the solo tag with a pitch man. This pitch man could be from the slot or the backfield.
1st read is the EMLOS, 2nd read is 1st defender past the EMLOS.
All the OL blocking for Option is the same as Solo.

West Virginia did this a ton with Rich Rodriguez, Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Owen Schmitt.
That was a fun team to watch.

"Gun Rt Slot 20 Option" vs Even look with option back in slot

"Gun Rt 20 Option" vs Odd look with option back in backfield.

Including a pitch back puts a bind on the force player. If he plays qb, lots of yards gain be gained on the pitch. And no kid likes to take the pitch man and watch the ballcarrier run downfield untouched.
  • "Bubble"/"Smoke"
Bubble and Smoke are quick screens to receivers. Bubble goes to a slot and Smoke goes to an end. By tagging this onto the BS of a zone, it creates an extended pitch.

Read is exactly the same as Option, but it becomes a throw instead of a pitch. 
Blocking also remains the same. This is a great thing about these first 3 reads- only 1 blocking scheme is used. Easy on the big guys.

 "Gun Rt 20 Smoke" vs. Even look

"Gun Rt 20 Bubble" vs. Odd look

 The Bubble/Smoke read puts an even bigger bind on the force defender. Not only must he play it as he would play the pitch on option, but it is more spread out and it makes him play in a much wider space, which can make a defender very uncomfortable.

  • "Mid"
The Mid read isolates a defensive tackle as the read, creating a Midline look on the BS. This is the first tag that changes the blocking for the OL
Read- 1st player past a 2i tech.
BSG- 1st live player
BST- 2nd live player


"Gun Rt Slot 20 Mid" vs Even look

"Gun Rt Slot Flex 20 Mid" vs Odd look

Mid puts a lot of pressure on the defensive tackle. Generally speaking, he is not as used to being a read key as an end. It also is hard for a defense to gap exchange when a defensive tackle is being read. 

  • "Triple"

The Triple tag creates a triple option look on the BS. 
The 1st read is the same as on mid, and the 2nd read is the first defender past the mid read.
Pitch back is same as option. 

"Gun Rt 20 Triple" vs Even look

"Gun Rt Flex 20 Triple" vs Odd look

The triple read creates a quick hitting play that reads a defensive tackle and an end. The only thing I dont like about it and something to be weary of is that the force player isnt being read, which could cause a problem in the pitch phase. It could also be a way to demand that the force player be able to tackle your pitch back in space.

  • "Loco"

The Loco option reads a linebacker and how he flows to the zone. It is better with OZ, as it creates a big horizontal stretch on the PS that makes the backer declare his actions.
The read is the first BS linebacker. As with the other reads, the BSG has the 1st live player and the BST has the 2nd live player.

"Gun Rt Slot 28 Loco" vs Even look

"Gun Rt Slot Flex 28 Loco" vs Odd look

This read puts just about everyone in a bind. The D tackle and the end get base blocked (another blocking style of them to read and prepare for). The linebacker is in a difficult situation as he must either flow with the back or stay at home to defend the QB. 
This play exemplifies the beauty of the option- damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • "Switch"

The Switch read and blocking is the same as Solo, but the routes of the QB and the A-back switch. The QB runs the Zone, and the A-back runs the keep track.

Auburn did this a good amount this year. They did the Dash concept more (check out my power blog for that concept), but the zone switch was used a good amount. Hard to find the video of one isolated play, or a high quality video, but it can be seen at the 0:43 mark of this video.

"Gun Rt  20 Switch" vs Even look

"Gun Rt Slot Flex 20 Switch" vs Odd look

The switch and the dash concept really screw things up for a defense. It plays with the end's head as he must understand whether he is playing quarterback, runningback, contain, or pursuit. If linebackers flow heavily to the back movement instead of the offensive line movement it will set up the zone blocks really easily and give the qb great space in running the zone. 

Thats the zone read series. Hope it was worth the wait. Obviously, theres lots of things you can do with it and lots of ways to attack and react to the defense.
One way a defense will combat the zone read or any other kind of option is to slow read it. Another way is to attack the mesh. These should not be problems, but if they are run counter and put your guard in the end's earhole until he decides that hes gonna close and look down the line next time his tackle down blocks.

again, feel free to ask any questions or to rip me to shreds. your call.

hopefully the next post wont be in May. The next post will be an analysis of the Texas Spring game, followed by the flash/flow jet series. Or maybe special teams or D. probably not. who knows.

of course, the zone read always works better when you got a guy like this-


  1. Awesome post, I'm a defense guy so maybe its from lack of exposure but I haven't come across many places where so many wrinkles off the zone read were draw up. Good shit

  2. Thanks a ton coach. And I just got too much time on my hands sometimes haha

  3. What is the TED scheme?

  4. Not sure I agree with your blocking on Gun Mary 20 Triple against your even front. It seems to me that you would block the "3" technique and read the 5 and pitch off the rolled down safety. If you want to run a true triple and have better success on the perimeter that is how I would block it.

  5. @coach crenshaw: that also is the way i know the triple option. but this 'Gun Mary Triple 20' makes sense to me, because you dont have to block the big DLinemen but you can send your Olinemen to easier blocks in the second level.

  6. Thank you everyone for your time and opinions. Much appreciated.
    Coach Alvaro- TED is "tight end down". The TE blocks down and uncovered OL pull to the outside creating an old fashioned outside sweep. I plan on making a post for that sometime in the future.

    Coach Crenshaw- the "triple" tag on the zone read creates Inside veer on the backside, which hits quickly and creates a good option against an odd look, just like how flexbone teams usually check to inside veer against odd teams.

    Thanks again though for reading and I hope to get back on this thing soon.

  7. Hello, I am a aspiring coach and absolutely love your posts. Could you by any chance do a post on the different forms of tempo and how they are used in a given situation. Or the types of screens you can do. i never thought there was somebody as obsessed with em about the option.But I think i found my match!

  8. Hello again. I just wanted to say that my name is Dante Bartee and I am sorry for posting anonymously. I dont know how else to post it. If you could tell me that would be great!

  9. Thanks Dante.

    I see this everyday and remind myself that I need to get busy and post more. Hopefully after the season I follow through with that promise.

    You can create a google/gmail account to have a profile for blogspot.

  10. And dante-

    Heres some up tempo stuff from other coaches



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