We are an up-tempo, no huddle, and multiple spread offense. Our base inside run play is mid-zone full field attack play. Our main secondary inside run play is power. We run one-back and two-back power out of every formation in our offense. We have traditionally been a run-first team, but only run a few concepts for our offensive line.
Our quarterback is an athlete who can handle the zone read game as well as RPOs and play-action pass. We do utilize quarterback run game and like to use our quarterback in the numbers game against the defense. The Power Read play is specific if you have a quarterback you’re okay with running between the tackles. We run the quarterback more than most teams because of the schemes.
Everything we do is about space on the field and finding where we have numbers and better matchups. For example, if the defense has five defenders in the box, then we want to run the ball there. If the defense has more numbers than we can block in the box, then we want to get the ball to the outside and attack the perimeter. We consider the box to be outside shoulder of a normal tight end alignment on one side to the other and 7 yards deep.
We created our Power Read play by mixing the philosophy and techniques of our mid zone and power plays combined. We spend tons of time getting good at those two plays that we want our offensive line to continue to use the same skills repeatedly. That is a huge part of our fast-paced philosophy.
The play-side offensive lineman (including the center) execute the same techniques as the backside of our zone read scheme. This scheme adjusts depending on who the read is. The backside offensive lineman run our base power blocking scheme techniques including a skip pull and gap hinge.
The defense needs to defend backside B gap all the way to front side sideline during this play. Their alignment and reactions dictate where the ball is going to go for us.
Who we read on this play adjusts depending on the alignment of the defense. Similar to many other plays in our offense, we use a count system to determine who the read is. We read No. 3 starting in the play-side A gap. We do not count a head-up nose guard aligned on our center.
Our quarterback is ultimately responsible for calling out the read to rest of the offense. Our offensive line always utilizes a count system as well. The scheme will then adjust once the read has been identified.
Here are some examples of who the read is. The number 3 in each picture is who the quarterback will identify as the read.
In Diagram 1, the defense is aligned in a 3-4 front. If power is being run right, then the A gap defender to the play side (don’t count a head-up nose) is the inside linebacker. The end/tackle to that side is number 2 and the potential B-gap defender. The linebacker just outside the box is number 3 and the read in this front.
The idea is, against this front, if number 3 stays outside the box, then the quarterback will keep the ball and run the quarterback power against a five-man box. We’re looking for a 5-on-5 matchup with a quarterback who can run.
In Diagram 2, the defense is aligned in a 3-3 front. If power is being run right, then the A gap defender to the play side (don’t count a head-up nose) is the stacked middle backer. The end/tackle to that side is number 2 and the potential B gap defender. The linebacker stacked over the end/tackle is number 3 and the read in this front.
If number 3 stays in the box, then we want the ball outside. If number 3 moves outside, then the quarterback will keep the ball and run the quarterback power against a five-man box. The potential movement (or lack of movement) of the read allows us to get the ball where we want against appropriate numbers.
In Diagram 3, the defense is aligned in a 4-4 front. If power is being run right, then the A gap defender is the nose guard aligned in the A gap. The inside linebacker to that side is number 2 and the potential B gap defender. The end aligned to that side is number 3 and the read in this front.
This is a much more standard look. If number 3 stays at the LOS and in the box, then we want the ball outside. If number 3 moves up-field or outside, then the quarterback will keep the ball and run the quarterback power against a five-man box. The potential movement (or lack of movement) of the read allows us to get the ball where we want against appropriate numbers.
In Diagram 4, the defense is aligned in a 4-3 front. If power is being run right, then the A gap defender is the nose guard aligned in the A gap. The end to that side is number 2 and the potential B gap defender. The linebacker aligned outside to that side is number 3 and the read in this front.
Against this front, if number 3 stays outside the box, then the quarterback will keep the ball and run the quarterback power against a five-man box. We’re looking for that 5-on-5 matchup with a quarterback who can run.
Offensive Line Key Points
There are some key points to teach the offensive line to best execute this play. First, they need to know who the read is. The quarterback must clearly communicate who the read is and then the offensive line can execute their own communication system.
For the attack-side offensive lineman (read side), we want them to treat it like the backside of our zone read scheme. For example, if the read is the outside linebacker, then the offensive linemen will block the defensive lineman just like they would if we were not reading the defensive end on zone read. We call this our “brick” scheme. If the read is the defensive lineman, then we should zone block through the backside lineman to the backside linebacker.
In Diagrams 5-8, the backside offensive lineman is executing base power techniques. The backside guard is skip pulling for the front-side second-level threat. He is pulling to the zone side so he knows not to chase any flowing linebacker and to just zone climb. The backside tackle is gap hinging for the backside B gap just like he would in our power scheme.
This Power Read play can be run with or without a lead blocker. If you are utilizing lead blocking, nothing changes for the scheme, except now, the lead blocker has a job. He is responsible for the fire, wall, alley block. (See Diagram 9)
The blocker does not need to worry who the read is, but he does need to know that he will never block a defensive lineman. The first block he looks for is the fire block. This is when a defender off the outside comes flying up-field (could be a blitz). The second block is the wall, which is when a second-level defender from inside the box flows outside. The third block which is typically a third-level defender coming downhill through the second level.
Our aiming point for the blocker is the outside hip of the defender. The leader blocker is really meant to be the blocker for the perimeter-run portion of the play.
Quarterback Key Points
There are some key points to teach the quarterback to best execute this play. He must understand the count system and then effectively communicate who the read is to the offensive line. Then, if there are any motions – and more specifically, jet motions – he must make sure the timing is spot-on for the play to be best. We teach the quarterback to snap the ball during jet motion as soon as the guy in motion enters the tackle box.
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In terms of technique, the quarterback will first take a step back with his inside foot. We teach our backs to align on the quarterback’s heels, and we want them to be able to stay flat through the mesh point. After the step-back by the quarterback, he will then take a flat shuffle step toward the read. We tell him to keep eyes directly on the hips (and eyes) of the read key.
Typically, a small second shuffle will occur naturally, but we do not want him going further than the play-side B gap. During the mesh, the quarterback must keep a firm grip on the football and his elbows in. Mesh must be practiced many times to get it right. It is our belief that it needs to be a “feel thing” and relationships must be created.
Plays With Power Read
Power Read complements other plays well in our offense. Play-action off the jet look (as well as regular mesh) and using a pulling guard play-action work well for vertical attacks. We also like to run inside zone underneath the jet backfield action to keep the linebackers honest. Then, counters and running plays opposite the action is a great way to make sure the defense defends the full field against your schemes.
This article was written by Jason Lebeau, Head Coach, Western New England University