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sam houstonBy Phil Longo, Offensive Coordinator, Sam Houston State University

When most defensive coordinators are gearing up to drop eight in fourth and long yardage, Sam Houston State relies on its quarterback isolation to get first downs and maintain possessions. In fact, the Bearkats converted at least three 4th and 7+ this season in its run through the FCS playoffs before losing in the semifinals to eventual national champion North Dakota State. But as detailed below, offensive coordinator Phil Longo will pull the trigger on the quarterback isolation concept on any down where he’s getting vertical displacement from second level players. Paired with almost any pass concept in his offense, its proven to be one of the most efficient schemes in Longo’s menu this past season. He explains the assignments of his offensive linemen against various fronts and the responsibility of the backfield in his clinic report.

By Phil Longo
Offensive Coordinator
Sam Houston State University
Twitter: @CoachPhilLongo


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sam houstonThe Iso Draw is perhaps our favorite play in our offense. It is incredibly versatile for us as we can run it at nearly any time. Ideally, we are running this play on downs where they are most apt to be defending other things or on downs where we get the greatest displacement on the linebackers when we drop. But we can also run it on 1st and 10 or 4th and short. This past season it just happened to be more so on first down. Regardless, we have found this to be a very effective conversion play. This clinic report will outline the base concept and variations that we like to use to keep the defense guessing.

This Iso Draw concept is used to attack any 5 or 6 man box while pairing it with passing concepts on the outside. While the passes and screens that we use to compliment the play change, the base Iso concept will remain the same. This concept is one that we can run on at down or distance and that we can run as many as 20 times a game. That said, each time we run it we will come from a different formation or grouping to keep the defense off balance.

Running Back Assignment and Technique

In our base play, the running back is charged with blocking the play side backer with the Iso block. At the snap, he will cross the centerline and meet the Mike linebacker down field. While we can align the running back to the play side or the back side of the play, we would prefer him to align away. This slows the LB’s eyes and holds their feet. This alignment also times up contact with the Mike the way we want it.

If the Mike blitzes, he will remain the responsibility of the back as he can still create the crease we need in that situation. We will have him either kick out the Mike or cut him if he comes tight to the guard.

Quarterback Assignment and Technique

The key to the play is the quarterback has to drop identical to the pass game. Patience is the most important coaching point. He must give the LBs time to react to pass and the DL time to identify pass and work a move and declare their gap.

Replacing the Running Back with a Superback

We also like to sub out the running back for a more athletic receiver/end type who will be the 3rd receiver to the trips side of empty. In this case, he will widen to two yards or more outside of the tackle. Now we will have him crash down outside of the lineman like a crack block. He will be able to create the same crease from that removed location.


To see game film of Sam Houston State’s QB Isolation concept, click on the video below:


Blocking Rules, Empty Formation, 3 Gear Method…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders (an exclusive membership-based website) and get the full-length version of Coach Longo’s clinic report – including game film. Here’s a short list of what Coach Longo reveals in this detailed report…

  • The blocking rules of the front five against a 4-2 box, 4-1 box, 3-2 box and 3-3 box.
  • How Coach Longo uses the concept out of Empty, having the isolation blocker come from the boundary.
  • The 3 “gear” method Coach Longo uses to teach the back the right timing on the isolation block to block both base and pressure situations.
  • VIDEO: Watch Coach Longo’s game film on this concept.

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As you can see, this concept has endless possibilities. Not only can you run it out of any formation, motion, or grouping, but you can run it at almost any time in a game with a chance to convert. Hopefully you are able to find a way to use something in this clinic this coming season. Thanks for your time and thanks to X&O Labs for the forum to share these concepts.



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