Summer OTA’s Week 3

Adding the Zone Series & Reinforcing the Team

During Weeks 1 & 2 of summer OTAs, we installed our Man Scheme Plays.  In Week 3 we introduce our Zone Scheme.  In our Man Schemes, the offensive lineman blocks a particular defender regardless of his alignment.  In the Zone Scheme, we focus on play direction.  Zone Right or Zone Left.  In our Man Scheme Plays, we have a very specific point of attack.  We are running the ball to the play-side Guard.  On our Zone Scheme Plays, there is no point of attack.  The ball carrier can run anywhere from tackle to tackle.

On Zone Right, every offensive lineman must step with his right foot and account for the defender to his right.  This causes two important reactions from the defense.  One, the defensive linemen laterally displace themselves to the direction all of the linemen are stepping.  Two, it keeps Linebackers at their pre-snap depth.  The combination of those two effects, creates the running lanes in our Zone Plays allowing the ball carrier to bang it up inside, bounce it to the right or bend it back to the left.

After teaching every lineman to step with the same foot, we teach them to identify if they are covered (a defensive lineman aligned on any part of their body) or uncovered.  Lastly, they are taught to identify if they have a defensive lineman to the call side (ex: to their right on Zone Right).

This creates the 5 Zone Scenarios we teach:

  1. Covered to the call-side
  2. Covered head up
  3. Covered to the backside
  4. Uncovered with a defender in the call-side gap
  5. Uncovered with an open call-side gap

The gap is defined as the area from outside one offensive lineman’s call-side shoulder to the nose of the offensive lineman to his call-side.

These 5 scenarios create a variety of blocks along the offensive line:

  1. Covered to the call-side = 1-on-1 Reach Step Drive Block
  2. Covered head up = Reach Step Combo Block with backside OL
  3. Covered to the backside = Base Step Combo Block with backside OL
  4. Uncovered with a defender in the call-side gap = Reach Step Combo w/ call-side OL
  5. Uncovered with an open call-side gap = Reach Step and climb to 1st LB to call-side

2018-06-28 Zone Plays

These scenarios require a great deal of communication along the offensive line.  Everyone has to be on the same page stepping with the same foot and accounting for every 1st and 2nd level defender in the box.

The OTA series of Blogs is a little heavy on the X’s & O’s, but reflects where we are as a team this time of year. We’re working through team building concurrent with teaching plays and techniques. The evolution of both techniques and understanding from Man Series to Zone Series parallels the teambuilding goals of increased awareness and interdependence. As players grow in confidence in their own abilities, we expand their responsibilities to tasks they can’t accomplish alone. We force communications, interdependence, and foster trust among teammates. As coaches, it’s our responsibility to play a multi-dimensional game developing not only good technique, but good teams, and teammates.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for your time!

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