Film Room: Zone Read

The Inside Carolina staff convened to review and discuss the film of the Spring Game. In this segment, Greg Barnes, Buck Sanders and Jason Staples discuss three clips of UNC's zone read play.

Play No. 1

Greg: This is an outside zone. The right side of the line is lined up at the 28, but look where they are after the snap – they're pushed back a full two yards. Is that a concern?

Jason: I'm not actually worried about that. Because this is an outside zone stretch, the real concern here is to make sure is that he's getting the outside shoulder there. So the offensive line actually won.

Greg: Even though that changes Khris Francis's angle to the outside?

Jason: Yes. You want him to be forward a little bit. I'm not as worried about that, though, because he did get the outside shoulder. So it's a draw.

Buck: In general, because most of these plays are designed to be either a run or a pass, and he's definitely trying to sell the idea that he's throwing the ball, wouldn't the natural thing for the offensive line, in order to help sell the play, to do is take a drop step off the line anyway?

Jason: It's not exactly a drop step like with a pass set. On the outside zone, though, you do take what's called a bucket step… A lot of coaches will teach it six inches behind and some coaches will teach it just horizontal.

Buck: So even though this is a running play, the offensive linemen are not really trying to push forward as much as hold their ground.

Jason: Right. In zone schemes in general, on outside zone, you're not trying to get much beyond the line of scrimmage at all. With outside zone, you're trying to get everything flowing to the sideline, and if you can, get the [edge defender] hooked. If you can't get the guy hooked, then you just take the centerpiece of him and try to run him wide. So you're not really trying to move him forward, you're just trying to either hook him or run him wide.

Play No. 2

Greg: This is another outside zone. Given where the backside tight end and tackle end up - five yards down the field – Charles Brunson's secondary option is to cut back, correct?

Buck: This is the same outside zone that Francis ran.

Jason: It's the same thing. The only difference is that they didn't get the guy hooked on the outside, so they're running everybody out. The backside is always going to be there for a cutback because outside zone is actually designed as a cutback run. So Brunson actually does a good job here reading his key. His first key is going to be on the outside.

Greg: And the end has the edge on the right side.

Jason: Right. So as soon as he sees that the edge is taken, that's his first read, then his second read is going to be the guard – if the guard is pushing outside, then you cut off the guard. Some running backs coaches laugh and say there's no such thing as a second read on the zone because it happens too fast. If anybody ever hits their second read, they're lying. Some backs just have a knack for it, though.

Buck: It's intended as a one-step-and-go, basically.

Play No. 3

Jason: This is the exact same play.

Greg: Brunson with a great cut back to the inside.

Jason: And that was a really, really good cut. But it's exactly the same play. Again, what you have here is that you're just trying to get a draw on the outside… (R.J. Prince) is late. He's late on the step. He lost on the outside there. He's too far turned. So what's happened there is the end is able to set the edge. What you want is either the end being run out or you want him hooked. You do not want him being able to force. So the end won here, partially because Prince is a full step behind everybody. He's the last hat up. But good job by Shakeel Rashad setting the edge here and still making the tackle.

Videography by J.B. Cissell.

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