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O-Line Schemes: Zone Blocking vs. Drive Blocking

Discussion in 'Content' started by 3yardsandacloud, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    O-Line Schemes: Zone Blocking vs. Drive Blocking
    written by osugrad21 and exhawg (6/7/2004)

    The main difference between Drive blocking and Zone blocking is that with Drive blocking you are trying to open a hole in a specific place and with Zone blocking you are putting bodies on bodies and let the running back find the hole. The zone allows a cutback runner the opportunity to slash his way through whatever seam may appear. However, the Drive blocking scheme does not allow for this type of creativity. The back must hit the designated hole in order for the play to work successfully.

    Zone Blocking-

    There are 2 type of Zone blocking schemes but they both revolve around the same rules.

    • If you are covered you are responsible for the man on you.
    • If you aren’t covered you double team with the next person play side


    In the above diagram you can see how these rules apply to an inside zone scheme against a basic 4-3 Under defense, and a 3-4 defense. The TE is responsible for the man on or outside of him. The RT is responsible for the man on him. Against the 3-4, the RG isn’t covered so he double teams the end up to the MLB. Depending what the MLB does this could be a long double team or not more than a jab and go. The center and LG are the same as the previous 2 but they are doubling to the PLB (we called the second MLB Peg in college so bear with me). Against the 3-4 The LT is responsible for making sure that the backside end doesn’t cross his face. Driving him off the ball is nice but he HAS it cut him off a the very least. Against the Under the LT steps inside and works his way up to the WLB. The outside man on the back side is either the responsibility of the FB, or a WR in motion. Another way to handle that is to have the QB boot out to that side after the hand off. The outside man is responsible for contain so if he starts making the play on the hand off you can burn him with a naked.

    The RB’s rule on an inside zone is to key on the front side guard. If he is covered go to the opposite side of where his man goes. In both of the above diagrams the man that the RG is blocking is outside him so the RB will start looking for a hole at the right side A gap. If the man over the RG stunts inside then the RB is taught to plug in the front side B gap to outside.

    The goal of the O-line is to double the D-line into the LB’s and make them declare their gap responsibility. When done properly, the LB can’t make the correct choice because the RB can go to the opposite gap than the one the LB chooses and run free into the secondary. On any handoff, the defense has two players that the offense cannotaccount for, so it is up to the RB to make the safety miss.

    The second type of Zone scheme is Outside Zone. This follows the same rules as inside zone but rather than try to push the defense up the field the offense tries to get the edge on the D and cut them off laterally.


    The Outside zone isn’t extremely effective out of a normal alignment so my diagram is for double TE, which in my opinion, is the best formation for the scheme. This play will usually be called with a direction audible so that the play can go to whichever side looks like it will be easier to block.

    You can see the rules stay the same everyone is just moving faster play side. The biggest difference is on the backside the O-line has to do whatever they can to cut off backside pursuit. The play has the best chance of busting out the gate if one of the backside linemen can make it up to the safety. Everyone to the backside is responsible for line cutoff if the center has free reign to cut block the defender for which they are responsible. This should at least slow them down enough that they can’t make the play. The last man on the outside isn’t blocked and he should have no chance to make the play unless the RB screws up or he is Bobby Carpenter.

    One Possible change to the scheme that can be done against the Under would call for the TE to block down on the 5 technique(Head Up Alignment) over the LT. The LT will wrap around the TE (Fold Block) and pick up the WLB. The LG would have the option to wrap over the top as well or he could go inside the TE’s block.

    Drive Blocking-

    Drive Blocking schemes rely on a totally different set of rules.

    • The front side blocks down
      • If you have a man on you drive him off the ball
      • If you don’t have a man on you block down on the first man inside
    • Someone from the backside pulls
    • The RB hits the hole hard


    These rules are a good in theory but not the most accurate in practice. As you can see in the above diagrams of the Power play not everyone follows the rules every time. That’s why you have blocking calls. No matter how you block the scheme, everyone needs to be on the right page. Unlike Zone schemes that work from the front side to the backside, drive schemes work from the center out. The center has to decide whom he needs to block and make a call to let everyone know this. The best example of this is against the 3-4. Even though the center has a man over him, he and the LT have to seal off two guys on the backside. Since there is a man head up on the LT and a man outside the center need to come all the way to the man over the LT. The LT will jam the end over him to help the center but immediately turns his attention to the WLB outside. If the WLB comes upfield the LT peals off and picks him up. If the WLB drops then the LT and center will double the end to the WLB.

    Power means that the FB is responsible for kicking out the end man on the line and the backside guard pulls around and picks up the front side LB. Power is always designed to go up inside so the FB has to get a good kick out on his man or it won’t work well.

    The other main Drive blocking play is Counter.


    The Counter is much like Power except that the pulling guard is responsible for kicking the end man on the line. The backside tackle pulls and cuts inside the kickout block for the front side LB and the FB has to skim any backside pursuit off the butt of the pulling tackle. Counter also relies on misdirection to fool the LB’s into flowing the wrong way and thus getting blocked easier. The RB takes his first two steps like he was running an inside zone play to the left (in the above diagram) then cuts back to the right and latches on to the hip of the tackle. In many circumstances the end man on the line is going to follow the TE on his down block so there won’t be any room for the guard to kick. In this case the guard logs (run around and seal the man inside) the end man. The pulling tackle has to read this and wrap around the guards block to pick up his man.
  2. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    NOTE: This article was written BEFORE the Blog/Article system was in place at BuckeyePlanet. As a result, it has been copied/moved here, and now INCORRECTLY lists 3yards as the author in the heading.
  3. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    Original Comment added back into this thread:
    By Clarity - 11:17 AM, 6/8/04
    Love these overviews, can't wait to see them get deeper and more advanced after we've formed the basic foundation.
  4. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    Original Comment added back into this thread:
    By 3yardsandacloud - 01:22 PM, 6/9/04
    More great work. The graphics are really helpful as well. Best stuff on the internet! OH, and the new Article/Blog system is up and running ... cool. Actually, the new system (I'm told) ISN'T quite up and running yet, but very soon
  5. BB73

    BB73 Loves Buckeye History Staff Member Bookie '16 & '17 Upset Contest Winner

    This is great stuff, but I'm getting the dreaded red-X for the diagrams
  6. greytornado

    greytornado Newbie

    Great Explanation...But

    I disagree to some extent with the zone blocking versus drive blocking scenario. If you have better players then zone blocking works. If you have smaller linemen it does not.
    In zone blocking schemes players have to hold their blocks longer and have more difficult angles to make blocks. Personally if I'm coaching defense I welcome a zone blocking scheme. Especially now days with people playing gap control. Linebackers will never be blocked.
    The scheme that you describe as drive blocking is actually a veer option, wing-T type blocking scheme that uses angles. It's much easier to block a defender if you have the angle on him and with the blocking rules similar to what you described you don't need a center to tell your linemen anything. They know their rule and know that they have to block down on every play to the play side. You can actually zone the backside. The good thing is you have every gap covered and the defense can blitz all day and not be able to penetrate.
    Against a zone blocking team,all you have to do to disrupt it is blitz a linebacker. That is exactly why you see so many negative plays from a zone blocking scheme.
    The blocking techniques of the wing-t and option game are tested and proven. Why do you think Navy and Air Force and don't forget Georgia Tech have so much success. Those blocking schemes will eventually make a comeback just like everything else in football. People are running Single Wing/ Notre Dame Box stuff that Knute Rockne ran in the 1920's.

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