Boise State’s Inside Zone Play

Each week during the 2015 football season, I will be breaking down a different play for Bronco Nation News and hopefully give a little insight into some of the X’s and O’s that are run from week to week.

For the opening week I want to talk about the inside zone play which is probably the first run play installed for most teams on Day 1 of fall camp.

Over the past 25 years, zone blocking has been used at every level from High School to the NFL. The inside zone is so adaptable that it can be run out of virtually any style of offense and teams who run the inside zone as their base run play can probably find at least 100 different ways to run the inside zone out of the basic structure of their offense.

What is Zone Blocking?
Zone blocking is simple style of blocking which allows for those blocking to block an area and not be specifically tied to a particular defender. Two or three players work in unison to block an area for the ball carrier, rather than working alone.

Why Zone Blocking?
– Outnumbers the defense at the point of attack
– You don’t need physically superior athletes
– Easily adapted to many offensive styles
– Effectively neutralizes slanting & stunting defenders

The following diagram Illustrates the Inside Zone Play


Offensive assignments

Offensive Line:                                                                                                                                                                                       Offensive line will work combo blocks.  Combo blocks are when two offensive lineman double team a defensive lineman while working to the linebacker.  As you can see in the diagram, the Guard and Tackle on the backside (left) will double team the defensive tackle (red lines) while working up to the Mike Linebacker (yellow lines).  The center and play side guard will double team the defensive tackle working up to the Sam linebacker and the play side tackle (right side) will base block the play side defensive end.

As you have probably noticed, we have left the backside defensive end unblocked.  In most offensive schemes, the quarterback is responsible for the defensive end (zone read concept).  Some teams however will use a fullback or a slot receiver coming across the formation to block that defensive end virtually eliminating a need for the quarterback to read the defensive end.

Running back:                                                                                                                                                                               Often times the inside zone play will become a cutback (which you will see in the video below).  In order for this to happen, the running back must make a read at the line of scrimmage.  Unlike A power play where the running back runs full steam through the hole the inside zone play requires a little patience to get through the hole.

Typically the running back will read the first defensive lineman on the play side past the center (2 or 3 technique which will explain in a later post).  If the defensive tackle is moved a gap over due to being washed down from getting blocked, the running back will make a cut to the backside A gap.

The video below was shot a few years ago but illustrates very well the combo blocks and the running back cutback.

As your watching the game Friday night, I hope you are able to take a look at both offenses and see how many times Boise State and Washington run the inside zone as it is the base run play of so many teams across the country.  See you next week!


About Aaron Rodney

Aaron Rodney
Aaron Rodney will be entering his first year on the Corner Canyon coaching staff. Coach Rodney comes to Corner Canyon from Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home, ID where he served as the head football coach for three seasons. Prior to his arrival in Mountain Home, Rodney served as an assistant football coach in various capacities at the NCAA Division II and the NAIA level for 8 years. Some of Coach Rodney's stops include small colleges in Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Dakota. A native of Mountain Home Idaho, Rodney is a 1994 graduate of Mountain Home High School. After high school, Coach Rodney attended Boise State University and Ricks college as a football player and later the University of Utah as a student where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. Coach Rodney also holds a Masters degree in Organizational Management from Concordia University in Saint Paul Minnesota. Coach Rodney has taught social studies and business education at the high school level and is married to the former Sarah Larsen who is a graduate of Brighton High School. Coach Rodney and his wife Sarah are proud parents of two children Chance (11) and Marley (8). In his spare time Coach Rodney enjoys being a husband, father and spending his down time with his family. The Rodney’s are very excited about being part of the Charger football family.

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