While Coach Chip Kelly was in charge, the Oregon Ducks often went to the Outside Zone to get around defenses. In this play, the offensive line would work laterally to get an angle on the defense and spring the running back to the outside. With Coach Mario Cristobal at the helm, the Ducks have often gone to the Wide Zone. At first glance, you could easily mistake the OZ and WZ for one another, but there are actually some philosophical differences between them.
Where the Outside Zone tries to get to the outside of the defense, the Wide Zone looks to stretch the defense first and then puncture it. Coach Alex Mirabal even stated that with the Wide Zone they are not looking to go around defenders, but through them. It’s a play that uses the defense’s movement against it, but also sticks with the physicality that this Oregon offense is built on. Though the option to bounce the ball outside is an option, should the defense dictate it, the ball carrier is more often than not going through the heart of the defense.
The rules for offensive linemen in the Wide Zone are pretty straight forward. They are broken up into covered and uncovered linemen. Any OL is covered if they are shaded or directly heads up with a defender. If the lineman is covered he is going to take his backside knee through the center of the defender, his backside hand through his sternum and his playside arm is targeting the playside arm pit of the defender.
If the lineman is uncovered, he has a three step decision to make. By his third step, he must decide whether he’s going to take over the block from the covered lineman, knock it over or climb to the second level. If the defender crashes back, the uncovered OL will take the block over. Should the defender be going with the flow, trying not to be reached, the uncovered OL will climb to the linebacker.
As far as the running back is concerned, his aiming point is the backside of the tight end, or the ghost tight end if there is none. His first read is the playside defensive end. Should the defender crash hard to the inside, the RB can run to the outside. The second read is the next inside DL; this is how the RB will choose his inside gap. Overall, the back’s job is to stretch the defense, by pressing the edge, and then puncturing the inside. This allows the RB to use the pursuit of the defense against them.
In the clip above, the right tackle, right guard, left guard and tight end are all covered. If you look closely, you can see the techniques described above. The same is true for the center and left tackle, who are uncovered in this clip. The running back presses the edge of the defense before puncturing the middle, and nearly takes the ball to the house.
There is another technique that the Ducks use in the Wide Zone. Should the linebacker have leverage that will allow him to shoot the gap before the covered OL can pass the first level block off to his uncovered teammate, they can make a call for a Fold block. This is a call made by the players on the field. In the clip above, you can see that the left tackle Penei Sewell executes the Fold block by pulling around the left guard’s block, and blows up the linebacker.
The Wide Zone is firmly within the physical style of run game that the Oregon offense is built on, and one that has served them well. Watch for it this season!
Coach Eric Boles
Top Photo Credit: UO Athletics
Next Article is tomorrow!
Eric Boles was born and raised in Central Ohio, 25 minutes outside of the capital of Columbus. He was raised in a University of Michigan sports household, but at a young age, converted over to the Oregon Ducks. Eric has a degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University, and had started a second degree in Middle Childhood Education. He is also the author of one, soon to be more, children’s book.
Eric had served as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Central Ohio Technical College football program. Now he assists with the football camp provided by his local YMCA’s day camp.
For Football Season: FishDuck Back to Seven Days a Week!
I had to shut down the daily articles on July 20th because I could no longer work the extra 3 to 12 hours per week of certain managerial/editorial duties. (beyond the usual ones with FishDuck)
I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.
Everybody is happy! So below is the new schedule through football season:
Monday: Mr. FishDuck
Tuesday: Darren Perkins
Wednesday: Joshua Whitted & Mr. FishDuck
Thursday: Coach Eric Boles & Alex Heining
Friday: David Marsh
Saturday: Mr. FishDuck (GameDay Baby!)
Sunday: Jordan Ingram
A couple of writers could not join us as they have new projects in their lives, and cannot write for anyone at the moment–but perhaps we will see them back later.
Things rarely work out so well for all parties in agreements, but this time it has and truly….everyone wins!
Our 33 rules at FishDuck can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!
FishDuck members….we got your back. No Trolls Allowed!