Mid Zone Scheme: 4 Techniques in Backside Blocking

Oct 5, 2015 | Offense, Run Game, Mid Zone Run Concepts

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar


Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com special report on Middle and Outside Zone concepts, which can be accessed in full by clicking here.



The backside of the stretch or middle zone concept is different than the inside zone concept, mainly because the scheme is not intended to cut behind the front side A gap like it is in inside zone. Therefore, it may be possible to “cutoff” the backside by getting defenders on the ground.  When we asked coaches what they preferred to do on the backside of wide zone concepts, 42.7 percent said they teach a rip to run technique, where 33.7 percent teach a full reach or scoop scheme backside.  Only 15.7 percent choose to cut block on the backside.  


We felt this could be due mainly to a large population of high school coaches who simply don’t spend enough time on the cut block technique because it is illegal in some states to do so.  Regardless of the technique on the back side, the visual aiming point was constant- 40.9 percent use the far number of next adjacent first level defender play side as a visual target. 

Rip to Run Technique

Jason Eck, the offensive line coach at the University of Minnesota State Mankato talks about a “fast track” technique on the backside of his wide zone concept.  “It’s deep open step and run and we’re looking to cut the defender in our play side gap,” said Eck.  “We never cut before 3rd step.  When climbing to the second level we run to green grass—where they are going to be—not where they are. The point is to get shoulders perpendicular to goal line at contact--Rip backside arm through play side leg. Get off the ground before the defender does.”