Wisconsin offensive line play in the Inside Zone
Building on top of Wisconsin’s success is their offensive line play. A local offensive lineman recruit in the state of Illinois already committed to the University of Wisconsin verbally for next year. When asked why, he responded, “Wisconsin knows how to develop their offensive linemen.” This is a feeling that is clearly shared across the Big 10 and the country. Wisconsin knows how to develop their offensive line, and they use the inside zone play as the basis for their success.
To start, the basic Inside Zone Play is shown below out of the Pro-I formation.
The key to the offensive line play is the 1st two steps! If the lineman is covered, he will use a lead step and a gather step. If the lineman is uncovered, the lineman will take a lateral step to gain ground and a gather step.
A key term that line coaches use is what is called a COMBO Block. Combo blocks are short for combination blocks, which are two offensive lineman on one defensive lineman. Once one offensive lineman is able to handle a defensive lineman, the can move onto the next level (usually a linebacker). An example is below.
Zone is based off of the simple principal of COVERED vs. UNCOVERED.
- If the Lineman is covered, he is to expect help from the inside on a Combo Block.
- If the Lineman is uncovered, he is zone (combo) with his teammate to the playside.
Because the zone is so simple to use, all positions are interchangeable. Offensive line coaches use what is called the Lineman progression when teaching inside zone. The progression is below.
This is the main reason why inside zone plays are so effective. Teams are able to keep the rules consistent, no matter who the opponent or defense is that week. Through using the zone principles and spending time working on combo blocks, Wisconsin was able to have one of the most successful running games in the country.
Next up.... Using formations to set up the Inside Zone.
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