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Tutorial: How line men will block for inside zone(dive/plunge/zone/slam/zone split and yes: Wham)

1. The first thing you want to know is line man will take one step in the direction of the run and block the first person that arrives in their gap

2. The next thing that is important to know is that if no defender is in a particular linemen’s gap at the line of scrimmage that linemen will block opposite of the run direction to start, while the linemen to his side will still block the man in his Own gap, this will ultimately result in the DT being double teamed. This double team will try to push their man into the line backers, and the linemen that blocked in the opposite direction of the run will break off to block a linebacker, in many instances were you have no tight ends and the defensive front is more spread out like in : nickel fronts, 3-4 odd/oakie or dime Oakie fronts) there will be no need for the guards to double team, they will run right at the linebackers they need to block. If a guard has no body in his gap on either side he will always go play side. *Important* : if a blitz comes through the double team gap the double team is off and they adopt man blocking (What will confuse zone blocking the most is an Odd front, were no defender is in a gap. It is against this front you will see your linemen slant the wrong direction repeatedly, not know which linebacker to break off to, brick block instead of zone block when it is clear they should keep the 4th man uncovered. So it is my personal opinion that odd is the best run blocking front as far as testing the smarts of the offensive line, if the line has low awareness VS odd they will not block right 50% of the time.)

3. The third most important thing to understand when you are considering linemen blocking is always consider 4 defenders (VS 3-4 Only the linebacker on the side of the run direction is blocked by linemen) and 5 offensive linemen [2 tackles, 2 guards and a center] ( in other words you don’t consider TE’s and you don’t consider more than 4 men on the Defensive line of scrimmage). In the main zone blocking scheme their will always be 1 out of the 4 men on scrimmage not accounted for. (Or one of the outside linebackers in 3-4 schemes.) This can vary in certain blocking schemes like the brick Scheme. The programming in the game is supposed to tell the linemen when to switch into a Brick: all 4 men on scrimmage get blocked: the tackle opposite the run direction that would normally always block in the run direction, will step opposite the run direction and block the 4th man instead of doubling up to the linebacker, this leaves the middle linebacker opposite the run direction un blocked, or Keep the normal inside zone blocking : the 4th man on scrimmage opposite the run-direction goes un blocked And guard doubles with a tackle up to the middle linebacker. [VS 4-4 ; nickel 2-4 set ups remember that 95% of the time the center will double team in the direction of the run even if this means he runs across the play side a gap into the B gap with the guard. Some exceptions will be if he realizes the Defensive line is slanting in the direction of the run and his right guard cannot handle the push, or there is an extra linebacker in the box and he knows he needs to double up to him or attack him]

4. The 4th most important thing to understand is that once you insert Tight ends onto the line of scrimmage they will now man block the 4th unblocked defensive linemen (or outside linebacker opposite the run direction in 3-4 set ups.) insert a tight end on the opposite side of the unblocked 4th man and he in now blocking the outside linebacker on his side (in 3-4 schemes this will be the outside linebacker on scrimage right in front of him. Insert another TE next to him or in a wing slightly next to and behind him and the wing TE is going now man block the play side outside linebacker giving the hand down tight end on the play side the chance to double team with a linemen or go block the play side middle linebacker, alleviating the play side guards need to find the play side middle linebacker. If a saftey is in the box on the same side as the hand down and wing TE’s the hand down TE should Try go get this saftey and the play side guard should still try to find the play side middle backer.

5. The mysterious Wham is inside zone believe it or not. It Is designed to beat 2-4 and 4-4 fronts, in a similar manor trap plays do (however trap plays are power blocking schemes where the play side guard and tackle go after linebackers and the 3 tech gets pull blocked by a guard while wham plays are zone blocking schemes where the center and opposite play side guard go after linebackers and the 1 tech gets pull blocked by a Tight end or fullback. Opposite tackles get pull blocked by different people, it can be very confusing do defend wham - trap - wham - trap vs someone who knows how they block. (You won’t know which direction to slant your linemen on defense) But for the purpose of this tutorial we will focus on the zone blocking Wham. Both prefer to have a defenders in the 1 technique (a gap) and the opposite side 3 technique (B gap). Both prefer to run towards the 3 technique. It is possible to run at the 1 tech but the center no longer hunts the middle linebacker his right guard does, this causes congestion and the wham does not connect the way you would like.
In wham blocking the guard to the opposite side of the run direction will avoid the defensive linemen in front of him or who is in his gap and go right straight to the left middle linebacker (also called the jack), the center will avoid the defensive linemen in front of him and go straight to the right middle linebacker (also called the mike) your guard and tackle on the play side will zone block in the run direction grabbing the 3 and 7 techniques. The Wham blocker will be on the play side to start and then pull and smack into the weak side 1 technique (or: the a gap opposite the runs direction) it is best to start this run by watching the center and guard successfully engage the two middle linebackers, then see if the 1 tech sheds the wham block, if he does shed the wham run through The hole your play side guard and tackle make away from the 1 technique as he stumbles. If he gets engaged by the wham you need to run right at the **** of the wham blocker and watch the middle linebackers getting blocked by your guards. If the 1 technique is slanting opposite the run direction you will see him fly the wrong way, this is the most ideal situation, he takes him self out of the play, your guard and center block the middle backers and the wham acts like a lead blocker as you run up the center untouched for 10 yards.

6. Zone split (otherwise know as a Solid Blocking scheme). I cover this one after Wham and regular zone for a specific reason. You now know the 4th man on scrimmage opposite the run direction is unblocked. Zone split is when a Tight end, Full back, or wing Half back ( where there are two halfbacks like in gun split) will line up on the play side but then run opposite the run direction and pick up the 4th unblocked defender on scrimmage. This play works best when there 5 defenders on the line of scrimmage and you only have 6 (meaning have only 1 TE on scrimmage) because your tackle will More easily block the 5th man by already having inside leverage, if you allow an additional Tight End (besides the pull tight end) to try and block The outside 5th man with outside leverage the 5th defender will slip him easily.

So now that you know :
1. what direction your linemen will block for inside zone, 2. why and where each double team will occur 3. what linemen or linebackers will be unblocked 4. Who your Tight ends will try to block 4. The downfalls of inside zone VS 3 man odd/2 gap linemen fronts 5. And what will happen if these gaps are blitzed you should be able to identify which direction your inside zone play should go as you walk up to the line of scrimmage, and you will know who your running back needs to look out for.

**tip** : You can always flip the direction of an inside zone run play at the line with your right stick, flicked left or right to change the direction of the play. This is without actually flipping the play. Now your linemen will change their blocking direction and who goes unblocked when you change the run direction

Remember: its a game, in real life people get confused And do wrong things, (ask any high school football coach) and when your linemen go the wrong way, miss their middle linebacker assignment, Never end up breaking off or try to chase down an edge blitz when they know they need to double team up to the middle linebacker is all , i believe, meant to simulate linemen getting confused. Linemen have to be some of the smartest and quickest thinking people on the field, awareness strength and block finesse are what you’re looking for in a great zone blocking line.

Lots can be done with this knowledge from 1. setting up blitzes (make a linemen think he needs to block you by bluffing the blitz on scrimmage where a linemen should double back and then backing off in the opposite direction another blitzer is coming to take the guards attention is the most popular) 2. Taking advantage of strange line shifts where you know who is going to get easily contained 3. Always slanting your linemen in the direction of the zone run (pretty easy to predict) 4. Knowing when your line men could shoot a gap Because he has outside leverage on his gap and usering him to destroy a run ETC. on and on.

Football is a lot like chess. Remember to combine power run and duo runs ( in both set ups the offensive linemen down block, or block opposite the direction of the run, however with duo blocking no one pull blocks in the direction of the run like in power blocking) when your opponent starts slanting their linemen in the direction of your zone runs (essentially stoping your zone runs) they will now run head first into linemen coming at them, sometimes making the defender think its a zone run the other way (confusing them), but primarily Mack trucking the slanting linemen trying to shoot the gap in the direction of your zone runs. Remember to mix trap and wham together.
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