Smart Notes – zone runs, slot coverage, goal-line defense – 8/8/2011

Zone runs, from Coach Roth:

The basic tenants of zone blocking are these: 1) Each offensive lineman is responsible for the playside zone 2) The defense moves, so how do counter act that? 3) We have five offensive lineman, it is therefore our job to block five defenders.

Each player will step to the left and block a player with in that zone. So what about rules? Most (if not all) O-line coaches will go on and on about rules. I, however, prefer to think of it as a framework, more like an “If, Than,” statement. I want my players to have freedom, with in that framework, to figure out how best to accomplish the result I desire.. For us, that process will start with a question: “Am I covered by a defender, or am I uncovered by a defender?”

Saban-speak on covering the slot, from Brophy:

With two receivers split from the formation (slot) you end up with a 3-on-2 advantage for the defense. As we covered before, there is a variety of ways to handle this. In attempt to tackle two things at once, we’ll cover these concepts using Saban-speak (out of Nick Saban’s playbooks). It should be noted that Saban’s “system” is extremely concise, flexible, and modular (in its application). What comes with those benefits is a dictionary full of terminology to communicate every conceivable action and response on the field. We’ll use his method as a way to keep a central thematic framework, but these concepts are relative to what everyone else does (so don’t get hung up on the verbiage).

The first is basic Cover 3 Sky (“Fist”) with what amounts to be the old “country cover 3”. Fist brings the overhang player down outside of #2 receiver serving as primary force. This defender will drop into the seam and not carry any route by #2 deeper than 12 yards and jump the first receiver to the flat. The corner would play all of #1 receiver vertical (or #2) out and up. The free safety would play middle of the field to the #2 receiver. Because these two receivers are handled by these three players, additional receivers (releasing back) would be immediately jumped by the next linebacker inside (Will) unless #1 or #2 released inside.

Examples of matching in Fist


The Peter Principle, from Coach Hoover:

Perhaps the best-known example in the football world of a super-competent coach being held back by his boss was that of Bill Walsh and Paul Brown. Sports Illustrated once said that Brown’s coaching career was “undoubtedly the most successful coaching career, at all levels, in the history of pro football.” He is the only coach to have a team named after him—the Cleveland Browns. He was known as “the greatest innovator in the history of the game,” as he was the first coach to have year-round assistants, to call plays from the sidelines, to catalog and analyze game film for game preparation, and to use 40 times and intelligence tests in evaluating players. Walsh said that Brown had “implemented a highly organized and structured format that transformed the game into the modern era.”

Brown gave Walsh the freedom to design the Cincinnati Bengals offense and he combined Brown’s old system with Sid Gillman’s Raider offense and his own innovations to create what would eventually become the West Coast Offense. But, there was a catch: Walsh was given the freedom to design the offense, but Brown took all the credit for it. Brown even had an elaborate game-day process that made it appear as if he were the one calling the plays: Walsh called the play from the booth through the headsets to an assistant coach, who told Brown, who then gave the play to a player, who ran on the field and gave the play to the QB. Walsh said, “Obviously, this was an impediment to swift communication and hurt us from time to time. Brown was willing to pay that price to convey the impression that he was running the whole show.”

Nick Saban, the troll:

“Kenny Stabler’s been sleeping in the empty cold tub in the training room for the past three months.”

“Bama figures they’ll just focusing on defending Phil Lutzenkirchen, and the rest will take care of itself.”

“Greg McElroy’s failure to be named a Rhodes scholar automatically gives him an extra year of eligibility. He will start at middle linebacker.”

“North Texas is a sleeping juggernaut. Dan McCarney spent the last 6 months sleeping in the dumpster behind Nick Saban’s place and is privy to the team’s innermost workings.”

“I hear Auburn’s paying players.”

“Derek Dooley wears such nice suits and long-sleeve shirts in order to hide the full body suit of Russian prison tattoos.”

Why you should treat goal-line defense as a special team:

We consider Goal-Line defense a special team for a few different reasons. First, no one is off-limits to this unit personnel-wise. If I need the starting TB at a corner and I need the starting QB coming off of the edge, then I get them. Most of our normal defensive package is based on speed, quickness, & multiplicity, but we are different in Goal-Line. By making our Goal-Line unit a completely separate group, I can add the size that we would sometimes like to get in there in short yardage and I can add other athletes whose skill sets fit what we want to accomplish. Second, we can create a separate mindset specifically for that unit. We really push being great on the Goal-Line as being a key to our program. We attach a great deal of pride to getting on this unit, and players on both sides of the ball want to play on this unit. And lastly, if we are in Goal-Line, it usually means that things have not gone so great defensively. By running a separate unit onto the field (even if 7 or 8 of the players are on 1st Defense anyway), it creates a little bit of a “fresh start” mentality and gives us a confidence boost.
We want to be extremely simple in Goal-Line for two reasons. One, we are subbing in players who may not be on defense fulltime and who may not be expecting to enter the game at that moment. If we have a turnover inside our own 10 and I need to call Goal Line D unexpectedly, our scheme is simple enough that the players know what to do even if they are surprised. The other reason we are simple is to build confidence. If we are simple, then the players always know exactly where to line up. If they know exactly where they should be, then they play faster and more confidently.

PreSnapRead is always extremely informative.

Boise State practice notes.

  • Guest

    Again, WAY beyond fair use here. You are simply republishing huge swaths of others’ work. You are not selectively quoting for any other purpose. For example, there is no added commentary, analysis, agreement or disagreement. It’s just, ‘here, I’m copying and pasting stuff I find interesting.’ Including a link to the original author’s site doesn’t make it ok.

  • Guest

    The best way I’ve heard zone blocking explained is by Joe Pendry from Alabama, and Mike Gibson from the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. Both ‘number’ the defenders in the box and assign each OL a number. In Pendry’s system it is as follows:

    PST: #2 Playside
    PSG: #1 Playside
    C: 0
    BSG: #1Backside
    BST: #2 Backside

    1st DL playside or on the center is 0, stacks are numbered with DL recieving the lower #

    I’ve coached and taught both & prefer Gibson’s method where you number the defenders in the box starting from anyone on or outside the PST as #1 and then working back. OL takes care of all 5, QB reads or fakes #6, 7 in box requires the use of an extra blocker.

    Simple… Simple… Simple