Key to a Successful Power Read: QB/Sweeper Mesh

Having a week one bye has allowed me some extra time to watch both high school and college football for the last few weeks. A play that I’ve seen numerous times is the inverted veer or “power read.” It’s a play that puts major stress on the defense as it is an option play that can attack inside or outside. For teams that have an athlete at quarterback and some speed from either a receiver or tailback, this is a play that with practice and repetition can put some explosiveness in an offense.

In studying some game film of this play, the different scenarios of what can happen can be minimized. In setting up drills or practice reps, defenders can be controlled to give the offense a look at the possibilities that need to be taken into account. Film study also revealed some key coaching points to make this an effective play.

Play basics

If the “power o” scheme is part of your offense, then only slight adjustments need to be made to implement the power read. The “power o” involves getting a combination on a down defender front side while pulling the backside guard around for the frontside linebacker. Read more on the Power in “More ‘Bang’ For Your Buck with the Power Scheme.” To learn more on the specific techniques for “power o” see “Use the Proper Tool: Pulling Technique” and “Distort and Displace with Double Teams“.

The outside portion of the play is a basic sweep play. The remaining blockers take care of defenders outside the box attempting to reach them, but at the very minimum displacing them horizontally so huge running lanes open for the sweeper. For ideas on practicing and implementing a sweep play read “Sweep Action to Enhance the Inside Running Game.”

Building Walls

On a typical power play the double teams serve to displace the defender and one of the linemen on the combo will step off to pick up the backside linebacker who will try to scrape to the ball carrier. That is the same on the power read, but because of the immediate horizontal threat of the sweep, the area expands tremendously.

Other defenses may choose to try to collapse the inside run. The space now is to the outside and in general the perimeter is walled off as in the picture below.

Creating this type of picture can be done with a consistent mesh between the quarterback and the sweeper.

Key Component of the Power Read Play: The Mesh

Probably the most important aspect of the play is the mesh between the quarterback and the sweeper. The timing and footwork becomes critical. If done correctly, the defender that is left as the read player is in a bind, and the defense stretches to the breaking point. If done incorrectly, the read player can defend both sweep and power and the play will go nowhere.

In this first example, the mesh happens too far inside the defender. The defense is not stretched and the read player (the defensive end) is able to fall in and make the play on the quarterback. Because the QB doesn’t bring the mesh to the read player, the decision must happen quickly which increases the likelihood that the QB is guessing rather than reading.

The next example shows the read being done correctly against a defender who wants to sit at the line of scrimmage and force the QB to make a decision immediately. The QB does a nice job of taking the read out to the defender with three shuffle steps. You will see the defense stretching as the QB shuffles with the sweeper.

Defenders That Attack the Mesh Point

The defense can do things to force an earlier read. Maintaining the principle of bringing the mesh to the read defender still holds true. The defense will still stretch in this example and allow for an inside running lane for the quarterback. As you will see in this example, the quarterback will shuffle two steps to the read player and then make his decision to pull and keep it on the power run.

Finally, the sweeper needs to be prepared to be hit as the read defender is stretched and forced to hit the sweeper. As long as the quarterback does a great job manipulating the defender, he really can never be correct. The final example shows the quarterback doing exactly that as he brings the mesh to a read defender who attacks upfield.

The Power Read is a great addition to an offense that has athletes who can stretch the defense. If those athletes are part of your offense and the “power o” blocking scheme is already installed, this play can be a great mid-season addition to further enhance your running game. The key to a successful play is creating the scenarios you will see and allowing the quarterback and the sweeper to develop a feel for the correct mesh point and decision making.

Good luck with the rest of your season!