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By Brandon Maguire & Trevor Wikre, Running Backs Coach & Offensive Line Coach, University of Northern Colorado

One of the more advantageous things an offense can do to a defense is dictate movement. And there is nothing that creates more horizontal flow than outside zone concepts.

By Brandon Maguire & Trevor Wikre
Running Backs Coach & Offensive Line Coach
University of Northern Colorado
Twitter: @Maguirebrandon & @Coach_Wikre



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Illusionists are experts at leading an audience’s eyes to see and believe something that is not actually happening. That is exactly what we are trying to accomplish when we marry our 12/21P outside zone runs with our movement passes (Bootlegs). We want defenses set on stopping the run, causing them to vacate zones in coverage for explosives when they are too aggressive downhill. At UNC, we spend an incredible amount of time making sure our movements look identical to our outside zone schemes. In practice, this means scripting an outside zone immediately followed by a movement to compare pad level, sense of urgency, and body language.

When we decided that we were going to major in outside zone, we made the investment in our professional development, film study, and practice time to be great at it. We felt we must do three things:

  1. The offensive line will attack vertically, moving the defense against their will.
  2. The backs must be decisive and press the line of scrimmage.
  3. Wide receivers must be proactive within the blocking scheme.


We communicate to our player’s through two main points in our outside zone schemes:

  1. Physicality/Aggression
  2. Speed off the ball to aim points


This forces defenses to run sideline to sideline while trying to maintain gap integrity. Offensively, it helps us collect stunts and allows the offensive line to be aggressive. This aggressiveness comes from the comfort knowing the offensive linemen are in combination.

Abbreviations Used

PS = Playside

RT / LT= Right/Left Tackle

BS = Backside

RG / LG = Right/Left Guard

SL = Sideline

C = Center

OZ = Outside zone

QB = Quarterback

LOS = Line of Scrimmage

A = Running back

TE = Tight End

FB = Fullback

OC = Offensive Coordinator

WR = Wide Receiver (Also X & Z)

DE = Defensive End

NG = Nose Guard

DB = Defensive Back

LB = Linebacker



Outside Zone Concepts

Deuce Oregon (16-17): 1-Back. 12 personnel runs designed to attack the perimeter. Our balanced formation gives the offense a two way go, based on block leverage or support players. (Shown in Diagrams below)

I Duck (17-16 Wk): 2-Back. 21 personnel runs designed to attack the perimeter to the weak side. Full flow from the backs.  (Shown in diagrams below Deuce cut-ups)

QB: Open playside @ 45°. After handoff drive for 5 hard steps and snap head around selling keeper fake.**Check Oscar: away from support in normal splits. To support with reduced splits and 6i**

A-Back: Align toes at 7 yards. Drop step off foot. Read the 1st down lineman outside/into 2nd down lineman playside. Press the LOS on your track to draw LBs onto the double teams. One cut and live with it. Be decisive!

  • Set track for the outside leg of the TE (1-Back).
  • Set track for ghost TE (2-Back)


**Alert bounce read to 6i.** (Also known as a 7 technique) Bounce read: We have the edge sealed. The run should hit outside the TE**

**In 2-Back sets the RB is essentially working in combo with the FB**


FB: Block the WLB. Bump to Weak alignment with the WLB on the LOS. Run feet and get medieval on the defender. (IN 2-BACK)

WR: Playside will work Push-Crack. The backside will gain. Create the explosive play. Block to get the rock!

Push-Crack: We run on DB’s. If the safety is the force player, we want to crack and run on the corner. If the safety bails and the corner ends up being the force player, we block him and run on the safety.**

Gain: An effort block. Gaining a blocker to the playside. We are working to get to the backside safety. We will leave the farthest defender from the run unblocked. **

OL/TE: Follow Base OZ rules below



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  • The “Man On’ vs. “Man in Gap” distinction that Coach Wikre uses to teach his linemen how to react off and block pressure.
  • How combining these concepts with pre-snap movement dictates front structure and creates a loss of gap integrity in the box.
  • The “Catch Hand” technique that Coach Wikre uses to block pressure fronts.
  • The check system used at UNCO to get the play run to the lower shade defender.
  • The most efficient max protect, two-receiver route concept used off outside zone action.
  • Plus, game film on all these concepts.


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We invest a lot of our time in outside zone concepts. We made the decision at the beginning of the year, with our athleticism on offense, that outside zone would put us in the best position to be successful. Without an effective run game, it will always be a struggle to push the ball down the field through the air. Our outside zone scheme was an investment. Our OL and TE worked pods every day. QB/RB worked tracks every day. WR worked Push-Crack every day. We spent hours as a full unit talking through the concepts so we could get the offense seeing through the eyes of one. Late in the year, it all clicked, and we saw a big improvement in our run success.


 “The drive to close the gap between near-perfect and perfect is the difference between great and unstoppable.” 
Tim S. Grover, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable

Please feel free to reach out to Coach Maguire or Coach Wikre about any of Northern Colorado’s outside zone schemes, movements, or techniques.



Meet Coach Maguire & Coach Wikre:

Coach Maguire: Played college ball at the University of Montana as a WR. Upon graduation, he got into coaching because of mentors Shalon Baker, Robin Pflugrad, and Torrey Myers. His stops include Langston University (OK) as the Tight Ends Coach, Montana Tech (MT) as the Running Backs/Tight Ends Coach, and the University of Northern Colorado. Brandon joined the Bears as a volunteer, worked his way up to a GA position, and became a full-time coach. He started working with the Defensive Ends (2016-2017) and moved back to offense as the Running Backs Coach in 2018.

Coach Wikre: A Colorado native, Wikre played college ball at Mesa State (CO) as a Defensive and Offensive Lineman. Following his playing career, he became a Graduate Assistant at Colorado State. There he worked with the defense for three seasons. He parlayed that into the Offensive Line job at Adams State (CO). While at Adams State, the offense set multiple school rushing records and recorded a 9-2 record, the best in school DII history. That led to his hiring at UNC in 2014 where he has been a part of the first two winning seasons in D1 history.





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