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puckett pictureBy Josh Puckett, Head Coach, Lake County High School

Discover how Coach Puckett and his staff have varied their reads to include different first and second level defenders based on their week to week scouting tendencies.


By Josh Puckett - @CoachPuckett25

Head Coach

Lake County High School


puckett picture



Everyone in America either ran or defended the normal Zone Read over the last ten years. A few years back, I noticed when Auburn played Oregon in the National Championship game that Oregon was trying (unsuccessfully thanks to Nick Fairley) to read defensive tackles from the gun. I got out the trusty white board and started tinkering with things and what has developed over the last two years has given us ways to affect defenses giving them the same look as our base plays.

Reading First Level Defenders:

Essentially, this play is the same concept as Midline just done from the gun (Diagram 1). For us, the most challenging part was coming up with a way to communicate this to our players.  We found that naming the defensive tackles and tagging them onto our base run plays was the simplest and most effective way to make this happen (seen below). 


We first started tagging the reads to the end of our Outside Zone play. Let’s say, for example, that our Outside Zone play is called Right and Left. If we go left, we are automatically reading the back side end so we don’t have to tag him. We simply call Left and off we go. We see lots of teams that put the 3-technique away from the back to help with the Zone plays. So if we want to read an active 3-technique we would call Left Larry (Diagram 2). Now the back side tackle just latches onto the back side end and we read the three. On the front side, the tackle reaches the defensive end to protect the give for Outside Zone. The guard lets the 3-technique go and goes as flat as possible to the play side inside backer. The center and back side guard combo up to the back side linebacker. We don’t read the front side DE a lot off of this look because we run Power Read, but it’s not overly hard to have in the bag just in case you need it. We call him Ed and can tag him if we’re worried about back side run through on Power Read.


Two-Back Split Zone Reads:

We found ourselves really basic in our two-back package, so we started looking at new things we could do without really doing anything new for the linemen. We stumbled onto this and learned we can use the same tags for everyone in the box and get ourselves into some completely different schemes than Split Zone without the players having to know any difference. This way we didn’t overload their minds with different schemes, but could give defenses different looks.

These things have allowed us to add a few different schemes into our offense without giving our kids something else to think about. Also, there aren’t a ton of teams that Wham people in high school. Lots of Trap but not much Wham, so that play has been very good to us. These tags are becoming a bigger part of our offense, and I plan on them being an even bigger part next season.

Important Coaching Points:

  • We use the same terminology for the linemen on this as our tags off Outside Zone. So in essence, this turns into more of a Man scheme than a true Inside Zone scheme. As long as the offensive linemen “part around the read man,” and don’t touch the read man, they’ll be ok.

Coach Puckett’s Game Film (VIDEO)…

X&O Labs Insiders members, please click here to login and get the full-length version of this clinic report which includes game film. Here’s a short list of what Coach Puckett shares:

  • Coach Puckett’s video tutorial for each of these reads from the 2014 season. It’s remarkable how clean the mesh is
  • How Coach Puckett labels each linebacker in the box for potential read defenders.
  • The communication process Coach Puckett uses in his two-back run game including his Isolation Read, Wham Read and Split Zone Read concepts.
  • How he tags defenders on his outside zone concept.

Get Full Access: Join X&O Labs’ exclusive Insiders membership program and gain full access to Coach Puckett’s clinic report and game film… Click here to join now.



These schemes have been good to us because I don’t believe the defensive coordinator always knows exactly what we’re doing to him. It looks just like Outside Zone, but the QB has kept the ball and is running right up the middle and he wasn’t reading his DE. If you don’t have the end zone film (which we don’t trade), it can be very difficult to find out what the QB is looking at and why he is giving the ball or pulling it.  


Author's Bio: Coach Josh Puckett has just completed his second season as head coach of Lake County High School’s football team in Tiptonville, TN. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin with a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance. Coach Puckett has 11 years of experience coaching football at the high school level with all but the last two coming as an assistant. He has worked as a part of six different staffs at six different schools during these 11 years. His falcon team went to the quarterfinals this season with just 19 players, and that is as deep as a Lake County team has been since 1994. Coach Puckett is married to his beautiful wife Erin and has two boys, Campbell (13) and Cayden (11) who are both active in his middle school and youth league programs.




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