By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
In zone option football the backside of the scheme (or read side) is just as important, if not more important, than the play side. In order to keep defenses honest, an offense needs to show its capacity to make reads backside and get the ball pitched. But it order to do that the offense needs to have a favorable numbers advantage. In this case, we will present our findings on how coaches are not only attaining numbers on the read side by not only by formation, but also by blocking scheme.
QB and Dive Back Mesh
Although this is mainly a study on how coaches are blocking the two and three-back read option, we felt it necessary to detail the mesh game of the zone read, both from Pistol and offset alignments. The mesh is a vital component of any option offense and if not timed up with the blocking angles up front, the concept doesn’t have a chance of being successful. SELU and Amherst will use both pistol and offset alignments in its option game. While the offset can present tells to the defense based on which side is the play side and which side is the read side, flopping the back pre-snap could easily alleviate that issue.
As far as teaching the read of the quarterback, SELU makes it as clear as “can you beat the read defender or not” (which is the C gap player) while Amherst gets a little more specific. “We read hips and read eyes of read key, which is the first guy outside the hip of the read side tackle,” said Coach Ballard. “We are looking for hip bend. If his hips bend, we got him. We are starting to see more sits and say their defensive line is better than the offensive line and dare us to run inside zone. In these situations, we need to find a way to option the football outside.”
Mesh Game Mechanics from Offset Alignments
From the offset alignment, the quarterback is taught to not move the near foot, pivot with opposite foot and square up to the read key. The dive back steps at the play side hip of the Center but the key coaching point is to not move until the ball hits the quarterbacks hands. This is done to give the offensive line, which lines up deeper in SELU’s system, to get into their blocks.
The clip below provides an illustration of this technique: