The Different Personalities of the Zone Read

Last month, the focus was on Zone Read with a lead blocker. This month we will continue the focus on zone read, but see how it can be packaged with different reads and passing game components from quick screens to short routes that attack the void left by defenders committing to stop the run.

There are a number of different techniques and rules on how to block inside zone or what some coaches refer to as tight zone. If you are already running zone, then do what you do. The purpose is to focus on how you make that run scheme more effective as the defense schemes different ways to stop it. Read more on inside zone: FB Zone and Multiple Run Game with Zone Schemes.

The most basic way to attack a defense is with the zone read-bubble from a trips formation. The defense is challenged by both how they will defend the zone run and the bubble. The play can attack on both perimeters (the bubble and the quarterback keep) as well as the middle of the defense with the inside zone.

In the first video, the quarterback gives the inside zone. He has determined that numbers and leverage are good inside so he sticks with the run. He is reading the backside end. There are different strategies with this. We have always kept it simple. We tell the quarterback if the end can tackle the dive, keep it.

South7 Give Wide
South7 Give tight

The next video shows the quarterback pulling the ball on the keep.

South7 Keep Wide
South7 Keep Wide

In general, we tell the quarterback if numbers on the outside are 3 over 2, then throw the bubble. If a safety is aligned over 10 yards deep, then he is not included in the count.

Zone Bubble

The zone read can be implemented from a a tight end set as well. In this scenario, the backside receiver is running a hitch. The quarterback has the option to throw the hitch pre-snap based on depth of the corner and leverage of the linebacker. If corner is off more than 6 yards and the linebacker is tucked in to the box, then the quarterback can throw.

Here is an example of the give on the inside zone.

In the next video, the quarterback keeps the ball because the end collapses.

Rob6 Keep Wide
Rob6 Keep Tight

The zone-quick concept can be used in a two-by-two formation as well. Most even front defenses want to play the linebacker to the boundary on the edge of the box. In running this, the read becomes that linebacker. If he comes down inside to play the run, the quarterback can throw the quick pass as he does in the next example.

Wid Zone Now
Zone now tight

Ohio Wesleyan Co-Offensive Coordinators Ian Formaz and Mike Ward like to use a read with the quick game as well. The quarterback they utilized in their system was a passer, not a runner. Instead of reading the end, they read the linebacker as well. From a trips formation, the alley player is pulled outside of the bubble by the number two receiver. The read then is for give or a hitch route to the inside receiver based on what the inside linebacker does on that side.

In the first example, the linebacker hangs for the hitch. This allows the offense to have an advantage inside with the zone play, so the quarterback gives it.

OWU give wide

OWU tight give

The next video shows the linebacker committing inside to stop the run. This leaves the hitch to the inside receiver open in a void created by the movement of the linebacker. The quarterback pulls and delivers the ball to the receiver resulting in a big gain.

OWU Wide Throw
OWU Tight Throw

The Zone Read is a great base play on which to begin to plan attacking the defense. It can be utilized from a number of different personnel groups and formations. The read can move around the defense as well so that a defense can not necessarily count on one defender being the read. This is an effective way to defeat gap exchanges and stunts designed to hurt the read game.