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mmyBy Adam Kirby, Offensive Line Coach, McMurry University (TX)

Coach Kirby breaks down how McMurry teaches their linemen to identify fronts and technique their blocks in the Inside Zone resulting in over 5 yds per play in 2014. Find out more here...


By Adam Kirby

Offensive Line Coach

McMurry University (TX)

Twitter: @CoachKirby25

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mmyOver the past few years, McMurry University has lived on its Inside Zone concept averaging 5.48 yards per carry and consistently moving the chains. A big part of that success comes from how we teach that concept. In this clinic report, I will break down our installation process, how we identify fronts, and how our count system allows us to seamlessly block various fronts. In addition, this report will outline what and how I teach zone to my offensive line and our RB reads and entry points. 

Here at McMurry University, we are a pro style, multiple formation offense. Within that scheme, our base play that we install on the first two days of camp is Inside Zone. Everything we do in the running game starts from an understanding of our IZ concept. Here is why we like to use this as our base. 

Advantages of the Inside Zone Concept:

  1. Stretches a team horizontally as well as vertically.
  2. Allows your RB to hit on different holes.
  3. Allows for the OL to “take the path of least resistance,” meaning they can get to the man they’re blocking quicker, which enables us to play faster.
  4. Enables us to crease fast flowing defenses.

Teaching the Inside Zone:

I believe that the scheme is only as effective as the technique used to execute that scheme. For that reason, we go to great lengths to develop these skills from day one. Here is a look at how we teach and implement our footwork, helmet placement, hand placement, and combination blocks.

Helmet Placement: I teach my offensive line to get their helmet on the defender’s play side number and drive them to the outside. This aiming point allows him to gain leverage on the defensive lineman while also being able to push him out. It also prevents the offensive lineman from trying to get their entire body in front of the defender before they start driving their feet. In turn, we find our linemen are faster to engage and drive, which allows the running back to have a clearer path.

Hand Placement: As I mentioned earlier, we teach our players to lock on with their play side hand while following through with our off hand and exploding through our back side foot. The off hand should go to the defender’s hip as they drive their feet. We like to attack the hip because it is the defender’s center of gravity. By getting our hand to his hip, we are able to better control his movement. It also forces us to stay low and gives us a target that he is not protecting with his hands.

Next Step…

Insiders members, please login now (click here to login) and get the full-length version of Coach Kirby’s clinic report. You’ll see how Coach Kirby teaches the combination block in his Inside Zone scheme. Plus, you’ll see his game film. Here’s everything the full-length version includes:

  • Coach Kirby’s pre-snap count system and why he will only use even or odd calls, rather than named fronts, to identify front structure.
  • When to use a 45-degree step and when to use a bucket step depending on leverage of down defender.
  • How Coach Kirby teaches the combination block in his Inside Zone scheme.
  • The ball carrier entry points based on the movement of the 3-technique or play side A gap defender.
  • VIDEO: Watch game film of Coach Kirby’s Inside Zone concept.

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We averaged 5.48 yards per rush on inside zone in 2014 at McMurry because our guys understood and believed in this play. The count system and running back rules helped them keep it simple and adjust to anything they ran into.

I also want to thank our Head Football Coach, Lance Hinson and our Offensive Coordinator, Matt Kalb for allowing me to write this article and giving me the freedom to operate an offensive line the way I see fit.



Meet Adam Kirby: Coach Kirby completed his second season as the Offensive Line coach at McMurry University. Kirby came to Abilene from Independence Community College in Kansas, where he served as the Offensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for the Pirates. In his one season at ICC, four of Kirby’s offensive linemen received scholarships to four-year institutions. Prior to ICC, Kirby spent the 2012 season at Chester High School, where he was the Head Football Coach. During his one season with the Yellowjackets, Kirby had six of his players placed on the all-district team. In 2011, Kirby served as Offensive Line Coach and Assistant Recruiting Coordinator at Texas College in Tyler, Texas. While there, he coached five all-conference linemen with Richard Lee gaining first team all-conference and second team all-American honors. His offensive line helped pave the way for two all-conference running backs, as Marquise Thompson and Edward Burns both received honorable mention honors.




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