Wide Zone blocking can be employed in a variety of different ways. Here at Ottawa University – Arizona (OUAZ), we determine our lateral vs. horizontal displacement of defenders depending on their alignments, structure of the defense, and where we would like to create the running lanes.
By Shawn Byrnes
Offensive Line Coach
Ottawa University (AZ)
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Wide Zone blocking can be employed in a variety of different ways. Here at Ottawa University – Arizona (OUAZ), we determine our lateral vs horizontal displacement of defenders depending on their alignments, structure of the defense, and where we would like to create the running lanes. We teach our Offensive Line, Fullbacks, and Tight Ends that we need to “Expand and Build.” We define that by expanding the front-side running lanes and building a backside wall to prevent the backside collapse. We believe these concepts can put your offensive line and running game in a great position to be successful.
The coaching points for the Offensive Line and Tight Ends are identical when it comes to our front-side zone blocking. We use multiple techniques when it comes to our blocking assignments and teach them across the board from Center to Tight End. In our front-side blocking system, the coaching points we emphasize are body landmarks of the defenders, footwork techniques to get you to those landmarks, and your helmet/body placement once you fit the defenders. We blend or combine a bunch of techniques from week-to-week.
Body Landmarks of the Defenders
We use two landmarks when talking about attacking the body of a defender. We use our outside armpit landmark and our helmet landmark. We practice attacking these landmarks every day in pre-practice and individual in our combination pod work. We work different DL shades, linebacker alignment and style of play i.e. slanting/read defenders, scraping or downhill LB play, etc. These practice clips below show you how we practice and execute our landmarks for the covered/uncovered lineman.
Covered Lineman: Outside Armpit Landmark
Regardless if you are in a solo assignment or you are the covered linemen in a combination assignment, we teach our blockers to aim their helmets to the outside armpit of the defender.
Editor’s Note: Coach Byrnes has provided narration for each clip below:
Clip 1: The C in this clip does a great job of fitting his helmet to the NG front-side armpit. He is working a combination with the LG and as the NG slants play-side the Center takes him over and fits him square with a locked backhand to prevent those NG from shedding the block and making the tackle.
Clip 2: The LG is aiming for the DTs outside armpit as he is the covered lineman in the combination between him and the C. As the DT slants and works outside they become more square but he is working to cover up his body up while working his helmet outside.
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- Coaching points and film of the “Inside Vertical” technique used against a shade Nose, 2i and 4i technique.
- Coaching points and film of the “Turn Out” technique used when a front side defender slants or reacts to the play side.
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Blocking the Wide Zone can be done in several ways. Many coaches will full track block, Pin and Pull, etc., which are all very effective. We believe in adjustments and changes depending on the defensive structures you will see week to week. This will include pairing lateral displacement and vertical displacement techniques. Wide Zone is our primary run play, so we meet on and practice it as such. The Wide Zone is where we spend most of our time with our players, so they fully understand their options when it comes to handling their blocking responsibilities. There are different footwork, combinations, and techniques the blockers can use, but they need to be able to adjust to the right one at any given moment.
Meet Coach Shawn Byrnes: Coach Byrnes just finished his 2nd season as the offensive line coach at Ottawa University Arizona (NAIA). The team played its first season of competition in 2018 where they went 7-4. In 2019, the team finished 9-1, was Sooner Athletic Conference Champions and made the NAIA playoffs. Before coming to Ottawa University Arizona, Coach Byrnes was an assistant for 8 years at Scottsdale Christian Academy, Arizona Christian University, and Paradise Valley High School. Coach Byrnes was also the assistant offensive line coach for three years at EXOS training facility in Phoenix Arizona to legendary NFL offensive line coach Alex Gibbs. There they trained offensive linemen prospects training for the NFL combine.