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By Mike Kuchar with Brian Gabriel, Run Game Coordinator/OL Coach, Monmouth University (NJ)

When New England Patriots FB James Develin trapped Rams Nose Nadomincan Suh for a 13-yard gain to open the Super Bowl, it wasn't just a tempo setter. It cemented an ageless offensive maxim, trap upfield first level defenders to slow them down.

By Mike Kuchar with Brian Gabriel
Run Game Coordinator/OL Coach
Monmouth University (NJ)
Twitter: @CoachGabeMU



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The split zone and insert zone concepts have proven to be effective concepts against Even front defenses because of the presence of a B gap bubble somewhere along the front. This allows for a clean release for the backside Tackle to work to the backside linebacker in split zone concepts.

Diagram 1


It also can provide for a cleaner entry point for the tight end in zone insert concepts.

Diagram 2


But the increasing popularity of the Bear front has placed a great deal of pressure on the backside B gap combination block in tight zone runs. Often times, the backside Guard cannot find his way to backside linebacker because of a heavy 3-technique that can squeeze the combination block.

Diagram 3


And the Bear front is a prevalent early down defense for good reasons- it draws double teams off zone and gap concepts in the run game and becomes nearly impossible to create movement along the run box. So, in order for offenses to get traction in the run game it becomes vital to split the front at the seams. And perhaps the best way to do so is by using some form of A gap divide principle, or better known as the “Wham” concept. While Monmouth University calls it “Able,” it has been a productive add for the Hawks this season, tallying a 7.6 yards per play efficiency.

The concept is built off tight zone by dividing the backside B gap or A-gap defender, rather than the C-gap defender most common in divide zone schemes. “We feel like we needed another way to divide the defense, rather than having the backside Tackle/Guard cut off the B gap,” said run game coordinator Brian Gabriel. “So, we divide at the 3-technique rather than the 5-technique. Some of the A gap divide worked us as well. We wanted to change the divide point from split flow zone and change who we’re cutting off, particularly against blocks we’re having trouble with.”



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While these are all supplemental tags used in the tight zone run game, they could provide an efficient way to separate stagnant, upfield defenses. Single gap control defenses can often find themselves cutoff at the point of attack, widening the entry point for the A back.



Meet Coach Gabriel: Brian Gabriel enters his 15th season as an assistant on the Hawks' football coaching staff, recently being promoted to Run Game Coordinator. He is also serves as Monmouth's offensive line coach; a unit which has turned out 26 All-Conference selections under Gabriel's guidance, including at least one all-conference selection in each of his seasons.

The position of offensive line has been a significant strength of the Monmouth football program year in and year out. For the past 14 seasons Gabriel  has mentored 26 all-conference selections including three of Monmouth's five starters in 2018. Named Assistant Head Coach prior to the 2014 season, Gabriel has coached All-Americans in back-to-back seasons in Alex Thompson and Ryan Wetzel.  Thompson earned a free agent spot with the Baltimore Ravens and is currently playing professionally in the American Alliance of Football with the Arizona Hotspots. With his offensive line in place, Monmouth has rewritten the offensive record books including setting the single season rushing and scoring record in 2017. In his role as recruiting coordinator for the past 10 seasons Gabriel has helped usher Monmouth into the Big South era by securing top talent.





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