The read game allows the offense to attack the defense where they become weakest based on post snap keys. The power read allows for a gap scheme read concept that attacks inside and outside in one direction at the same time. The zone option allows for an A-Gap to A-Gap inside run that can hit front side or cutback as well as attacking the perimeter opposite the inside zone. The personnel we use gives us a fullback, running back and a hybrid receiver/running back in the backfield along with a dynamic quarterback. As seen in the diagram below, just two play calls allow us to attack the entire front.
Components in the two concepts
The sweep component of power read attacks the perimeter to the tight end side. The power read from this set allows us to get players out on the flank to block the edge of the play. The U (fullback) and the S (running back) are assigned to get to the edge and block the force player and the next player to show. The tight end is arcing for width as well. This will either pull the defensive end out with the arc, or he will crash inside hard telling the quarterback to run the sweep. With the tight end, the running back, and the fullback, there are three blockers on the perimeter to block for the sweep.
The power component allows the quarterback to become the inside runner if his read player, the defensive end, widens to defend the perimeter. The guard is pulling for the frontside linebacker. The mesh is critical for the success of the play. The quarterback sliding with the sweeper allows the defense to be stretched properly and opens up running lanes. For more on the key component, read here (link).
With the inside zone component in the zone option, the quarterback is reading the split end side defensive end. The read and option phase along with the fullback running across as a lead blocker serve to hold the backside defensive end as well as the linebackers. The slow play of the defense in reaction to respecting the option phase of the play allows a great running lane for inside zone.
The option component becomes viable once the inside zone has been established, and the linebackers begin to flow harder inside. This allows us to attack the perimeter away from the outside zone with the option. The response of the defense is to hold slightly longer on the inside zone allowing the quarterback and pitch back to gain leverage on the edge.
Play Action Opportunities
Of course, the heavy run action will open opportunities for the offense to pick up big chunks of yardage with the play-action pass. The reaction of linebackers forward to stop the run will open voids in the secondary and allow for receivers to get the ball in space. The zone option action is used to exploit a void between the linebackers and safety.
If the safety begins reacting up in the run game, then there are big play opportunities for the post.
The power read also allows the opportunity to exploit linebackers that are filling down hill. Because the tight end is releasing for second level defenders on the power read, his release will appear the same on run or pass.
Planning an attack around a few concepts allows a clear game day thought process for the offensive coordinator. Setting up a series of “if thens,” having coaches in the press box or on the field assigned to look at specific defensive reactions, and communicating clearly allows the offense to stay one step ahead of the defense.