OL Drills – Zone Blocking – Michigan State Univeristy

Jul 21, 2014 | Run Game Mechanics, Offensive Line, Position Groups

By Mike Kuchar - @MikeKKuchar

Senior Research Manager

X&O Labs


Editor's Note:  The following report is builds on the content that MSU's Offensive Line Coach Mark Staten shared with X&O Labs for our Middle and Outside report.  To view the entirety of that report, click here.  


Blocking Tight Techniques



Reach/Lateral Step Footwork

The reach step could be classified as a lateral step and not a bucket step.  The width of that step is predicated on two scenarios:

  1. The horizontal leverage (width) of the defensive lineman.
  2. Whether or not the covered lineman is involved in a double team.

Mark Staten at Michigan State University talks about varying that first step based on whether or not that player has help in a combination.  “With help, we talk about zone reach footwork and without help it’s tight reach footwork,” said Staten.  The specifics behind each technique is below:

  • Zone reach footwork- Lateral to lead position (no bucket).  Step progression- first step toes outside to his outside shoe, second step thru crotch of defender, third step up the field. We want to drive our inside hand thru his down hand into his chest.
  • Tight Reach footwork- Hand thru near breastplate, not sternum.  We know there is no help. 
  • Eyes on target: Aiming point is inside eye to the play side number of the down defender.
  • Steps: Play side shoe position lead outside the wide foot of the down defender; 2nd step through the crotch; 3rd step working to get up field; do not wheel or swing the hips; work through to try and get the shoulders square.
  • Hands: Backside hand just inside of the sternum; thumb up, strike with the heel of the hand through the arm of the down defender; play side hand captures and guides the outside half of the defender.
  • Pad level and position: Keep the backside shoulder down and under the shoulders of the defender to establish leverage
  • If defensive lineman stretches with you – stay on block and uncovered teammate works up to linebacker.
  • If defensive lineman anchors on you – stay on block with eyes on play side arm pit of defender.  
  • If defensive lineman slants inside – force him to flatten his slant by stiff-arming him inside.  Stay on block until you feel uncovered teammate & then come off aiming eyes to play side number of linebacker.