How does an inside zone team turn their Iso into a concept that averages over 10 yards per carry? Find out here.
By Kyle Ralph
Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
New Palestine High School (IN)
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The Wing Iso concept gives our offense a quick hitting, powerful interior run play that serves as a large part of our teams offensive identity. It is extremely flexible in the way that we can run it within our offense. We can run this play from any formation or motion concept in our arsenal as well as from with a same side wing or a weak side wing. Adding the “read” element to the play brings another difficult dimension for defenses to stop. Think about it, on any given play defenses will need to cover basic Iso rules and fits, handle the QB read for the potential pull, as well as the possibility of a 2nd level read RPO. This puts the defense in a huge bind while executing a play that is simple and foundational to our success.
Here at New Palestine, we call ourselves a “power spread offense.” We choose this term because while we are a spread to run team, we also want to establish a strong inside run game to force decisions in the box presence for the defense. Our identity play is the inside zone play, it makes up 33% of our offensive calls. Our outside zone, midline zone, and weak fan zone concepts compromise another 17% of our calls. Together, these 4 zone blocking concepts make up 50% of our total offense.
The remaining 50% of our offense is made up of our pass game and the weekly “change-up” run plays we choose from our plays to attack the defense we play that week. We pick and choose each week what plays we feel will be best against a defense based on their alignment, personnel, and most importantly, our player’s strengths and abilities. The goal is to get our kids in a position to be successful first and foremost. This year the Iso play took a much larger piece of the offensive pie because we had the pieces to run it creatively and effectively. At the end of the year, we averaged 11.9 yards/attempt on Iso.
We went with the Iso because it is a quick hitting, downhill, same side, forceful run play to allow our faster back to get into the heart of a defense faster than our zone concepts. Zone is a patience play, it takes timing, followed by burst. Iso is a brute force, straight line, explosive play into our arsenal this season to highlight the type of running back we featured. He wasn’t a big back, but he ran hard and was very fast.
We also didn’t possess the tight end type player that we have had in previous years, so the wing option worked best. What we do have a lot of though are tough, hard-nosed, strong safety type kids. Our kids play both ways so our Y is also one of our starting alley safeties. He stands 5’9 ½” 185. He’s strong and he’s not afraid of a thing. He became our wing for these plays, but we also branched out and ran the Iso from spread formations where he could motion into the box. Again, the key is that we know our personnel and work hard at using it to highlight their talents and abilities.
This year, we worked hard to mask our Iso by making it look like inside zone. Since we didn’t have a big Y or a fullback type player this season, the traditional Iso looks were problematic. As soon as we would double a front side 1 technique or 0 technique, that LB would fill the A-gap in a heartbeat and smash our smaller slot player. To help give him a fighting chance, we would freeze the LB with a zone look. In this look, our LT and LG would both fan out using zone footwork to the edge DL and the hanger LB. Our Center and RG would work a slip zone block back side and work through the nose to the BSLB. The backside tackle would work an inside zone cut off block.
This footwork helps freeze the LB for just a second as he diagnosed the zone look. That pause allowed our wing to get on him and neutralized the issue of being overpowered at the point of attack. We also found that this adjustment kept the LB’s eyes on the line as he expected one of them to climb up to him on the zone. All of a sudden the Y is on him coming full speed and he wasn’t prepared for him. This negated the mismatch and gave us the advantage.
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- How Coach Ralph changed the block of the wing in order to take away interior linebacker’s ability to box the play in to each other, which helped the back to get to the third level quicker.
- How Coach Ralph changed the footwork of the quarterback from turning perpendicular to the line of scrimmage to alter it based on defensive reaction.
- The two reasons why he has the running back check the defensive coverage before each play, which will change his entry point.
- The gesticulation and verbiage Coach Ralph uses to motion the wing pre-snap to get in the best alignment to execute his block.
- Plus game cutups of this concept.
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Our adaptation to bring old school Iso into a more modern spread offense has been a huge positive for us. It has provided us a true game breaking play that compliments our offense very well. It is adaptable to any personnel you have, big or small. As an OL guy by trade, one thing I like about this play especially is it brings attitude to your offense. While I love the zone read family of plays, nothing quite feels the same is a good hard hitting Iso that fires right through the heart of a defense. It’s a tone setter play and can give you the downhill physical punch your offense may need.
Meet Coach Ralph: Kyle Ralph just completed his 4th year as the Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator in New Palestine High School (IN). While there, Ralph has compiled a 50-3 overall record and was the 2014 4A State Champions and 2015 5A State Runner-Up. His teams have broken Indiana All-Time Season Scoring record twice (2014 & 2015) and the Indiana All-Time Season Yardage Record (2015). New Palestine has led the state of Indiana in scoring 3 consecutive years. Coach Ralph was chosen as Head Coach for 2015 Indiana North/South All-Star Game and is a four time HHC Coach of the Year and three time Hancock County Coach of the Year.