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By Andrew Coverdale & Mike Kuchar, X&O Labs Research Staff

Teaching combos on the zone scheme can get expensive, particularly for tempo offenses that prioritize speed to manipulate defenses. Because of this philosophy- and some inexperience up front- prep powerhouse Trinity High School (KY) shifted its teaching into track blocking the wide zone concept, a staple in the Shamrocks offensive menu for years. Blocking the wide zone this way has eliminated negative plays, propelling the Shamrocks to a 15-0 season and a number one ranking in the state. Offensive coordinator Andrew Coverdale writes about how he’s meshed the tracking principle with this sugar huddle tempo. Find out here...


By Andrew Coverdale & Mike Kuchar
X&O Labs Research Staff
Twitter: @XandOLabs



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Many offensive systems package the wide zone run concept as part of its offensive play menu. Many of these same offenses are teaching horizontal zone combination blocks on the front side of the play to create space for entry points for the running back. While zone combinations could be a viable way to block the scheme, we’ve found other coaches are finding that “track” blocking the scheme can be a better solution, particularly for inexperienced offensive linemen in a tempo offense.

We heard Coach Coverdale speak about how track blocking the wide zone concept has fostered his tempo offense and made it easier on younger linemen to block the play. So, we reached out to Coach Coverdale to talk about his most efficient run concept. It’s been the foundation in the Trinity offensive system, but this season its merits were tested. Working through continually attrition on the offensive line, Trinity had to still find ways to run the scheme. Because of this inexperience, Coach Coverdale and his offensive staff (head coach Bob Beatty and offensive line coach Cliff Dawson) leaned more on track blocking the wide zone concept, rather than using combination blocks.

Though he will teach both tracking and combination blocking, according to Coach Coverdale, there are three main reasons why track blocking can be more effective:

  1. Alleviates confusion: “If you are getting a lot of multiplicity and your talent is not great, we tend to use tracking, “ he said. “It is more simplistic and you will not get negative plays with this scheme. That is the first layer of preventing negative plays because of the communication.”
  1. Cultivates Tempo: “We are a multiple tempo team. We are not a no huddle team per say but we use a speed break from our huddle. We want to get on the ball and snap it. That does not allow for a tremendous amount of communication at the line of scrimmage.”
  1. Provides protection against line stunts: “If we are getting a lot of long sticks, two gap exchanges, or zone dogs, we always carry more tracking into those kinds of situations,” he said.

Track Blocking vs. Combination Blocking

It is possible to teach both combination blocking and track blocking and it’s beneficial to carry both in an offensive play menu. “Why do we need both ways of blocking the wide zone?,” he asked. “We have to use the strengths and weakness of both types. Sometimes we start with tracking and use the combination blocking later. Often times we do it just the opposite. It depends on the players we have and the situation.”

If our linemen were more thumpers we would lean to more combination schemes because it’s more physical, but it’s harder to teach,” he told us. “The combination blocking takes more time. If you have years where you have more continuity the combination block methodology may work better but if you have years where there are young players or you go through injuries, tracking is easier to learn. It’s about running off the ball and take your chances.” Other factors, such as defensive structure are factored into the decision making process. “If there are linebackers in leveraged positioned or stacked behind the ends in three down, we would want to track it because we couldn’t combination to them,” he told us. “If they were in traditional techniques like 20 techniques, we would combo it.

Continue to the full-length version of this report…

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  • The coaching points and drill film of the “RCO” block that Coach Coverdale and his offensive staff uses to teach offensive linemen to block their gap in this concept and how his flip hips variation help better declare the read for the back.
  • The logistics of the two types of sugar huddle tempos that Coach Coverdale uses to pair with the wide zone scheme based on whether he wants to manipulate the run box or manipulate perimeter support.
  • How he had to change the tempo and aiming point of the back in order to mesh with the timing of the offensive line in the tracking system.
  • How the “take it, slice it, bang it,” read of the back varies from traditional bang it, bend it, bounce it reads more common in traditional zone schemes.
  • How the staff at Trinity is able to formation the play quickly and get the ball snapped quickly to out leverage defenses at the point of attack.
  • Plus, game film on the wide zone concept from 3x1 formations, unbalanced formations, four surface formations and wing formations.

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Having a perimeter run concept in your offensive play menu is imperative and if you’re a tempo team working through some inexperience up front, track blocking the wide zone scheme may be the best option.



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