Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two Gap/One Gap vs. One-Back Zone Option

Since posting the original Two Gap-One Gap (TGOG) posts, I have had numerous emails wanting more, more, more.  Where here you go!  In this post I'm going to show you how the TGOG scheme, when coupled with coverage can negate the zone read and zone read triple options being employed by many of today's spread offenses.  The TGOG was developed specifically to give lesser athletes an advantage against just such offensive schemes.  Let's get into the details shall we?

Setting the Front
There has been much argument about how to set the front when facing zone read option teams.  Personally, I like to set the three technique on the opposite side of the running back, or at the very least slant him in that direction from a two technique alignment (especially vs. those pesky OC's who flop the RB prior to the snap).  Anyhow, I also believe you need to mix things up, as good spread teams with a running QB will also run QB iso and QB power.  I think setting the three technique to the back is a good change up when expecting the iso and power type of QB runs.  Being able to mix things up keeps the offense on it's heels and they now do not know what to expect.  The TGOG scheme allows the defense to be sound, regardless of where the three technique is set.

Setting the Coverage
Assuming the ball is in the middle of the field (MOF), as with the three technique, I say mix things up.  There is no right or wrong way to do things, and in this article I'm going to look at all the possible alignments and how the defense is sound no matter where the read side of the coverage is set (assuming you use split field coverage).  Now we all know the ball is only in the MOF some 20 percent of the time, so the read side may or may not be set with your front.  I'm going to detail the scenarios to show you just how sound the TGOG scheme is, regardless of where the coverage is set.

Attack the Offense, Scenario #1- Front and Coverage set Away From the Running Back

As the drawing shows, the read side of the coverage and the front are both set away from the RB.  The DE on the strong side, being a one gap player can get up field and help play the spill by the Sam LB.  The three technique will allow himself to be reached and fall back in to play the A gap and help on cutback.  To the weak side, the one technique is a one gapper and will get up field, also preventing the cutback or "wind back" play from developing.  The weak side DE is a two gapper, so he is collapsing the OT, not allowing the OT to work up to the Mike LB and is playing the B gap cut back also preventing the "wind back".  The Mike LB, will have QB all the way.  This is very advantageous if you are in the MOF and playing Bronco coverage on the away side.  As you can see, you have all your bases covered.  Now let's look at the triple option run the same way.

The front assignments remain the same, however the secondary must make up for the motion and the resulting "extra player" that will show up on the away side of the coverage.  This is an easy check for the secondary.  The FS should check the secondary into either Roll Sky, or Roll Solo.  I'd prefer Roll Sky as the SS is already inverted and can help play under the #1 receiver on any playaction routes, as well as run with the wheel route by the RB off of playaction. 

The FS moves with the motion and is the alley/extra QB defender to the "new read side".  The WS, can screw down and is now the force player and will take pitch.  If the number two receiver blocks the WS, then the FS will overlap this block and play the pitch.  Again, you are sound as you have all three phases of the triple option accounted for (dive, QB, pitch), and you've done it simply by defeating the blocking scheme and not by assigning players to a certain phase.

Attack the Offense, Scenario #2-  Front and Coverage Set to the Running Back

Now the three technique is still on the same side as the SS, yet the RB is now to the strong side of both the front and the coverage.  Maybe you did this expecting a QB isolation run or QB power run and the offense decides to run the zone read instead...not an issue.  The strong side DE, being a two gap player, will work under the reach block by the OT and play the B gap looking to spill the play outside.  The one technique is a one gapper and is attempting to blaze a trail up field, not allowing the left guard to come off (even though I have it drawn up that way).  The one technique holds the A gap and helps on the cutback.  By alignment, the one technique is difficult to block one-on-one by the center, so you have eliminated any chance of a double and scrape by the center and left guard.  The weak side three technique is a two gapper, so he mashes the guard down in the A gap, and does not allow the guard to scoop to the next level while helping on the cutback.  The weak side DE is a one gapper and is coming hard up field and will play the QB all the way.  The Sam LB plays the spill created by the one technique and the strong side end, while the Mike LB is what some call the "fall back" player to the weak side.  The "fall back" player is responsible for the cut back or "wind back" that sometimes happens on the inside zone play.  Because of the play of the two gapping three technique the OT will be late scraping off to get the Mike and he is unblocked to help on the "wind back".

Against the triple option, the secondary has very little to adjust to.  The easy check here is to simply check into Bronco on the away side, or Solo.  I prefer Solo, as this keeps the WS with his eyes on the side the triple option has been run to as an extra player who can play if the FS "whiffs" on the number two receiver going vertical.

Again, the read side of the coverage can play "read force" where if the SS is unblocked then he will take pitch, and if the number two receiver crack blocks the SS then the FS takes pitch.  You also have two QB players in this scheme being the Mike and the weak side DE.  Again, as you can see, the defense is sound in it's attack of the offense.

Attack the Offense, Scenario #3- Front Set to the Running Back, Coverage Set Away

The only thing I do not like about this setup is the distance that the Mike must travel to get to his assignment.  This scheme is sound however, in that the "plus one" player to that side is the SS.  The strong side DE is a one gap player and will get up field and play the QB.  The three technique, being a two-gapper, mashes the guard into the A gap and plays for the cutback.  The play of the three technique creates a dilemma for the right guard and right tackle.  The guard is in no position to single block the strong tackle as he's expected to scoop to the 2nd level by getting help from the tackle.  If the guard sits and waits on the tackle, the Sam is unblocked coming right off the hip of the OT trying to scoop to the three.  If the guard tries to turn out on the three, and let the tackle drive up field for the Sam, then the three technique will come across his face into the A gap, and should be unblocked by virtue of sheer leverage.  Again, you have three players on two (don't forget the strong side DE).  To the weak side, the weak DE will spill the reach block by the OT (since he's a two-gapper), and the one technique is working hard up field.  The one technique must get up field and press the center so that the guard has to maintain the double team for fear of losing this block.  The reason the guard has to stay is the alignment of the one technique makes it impossible for the center to reach him.  This technique allows for the Mike to scrape across both the A and the B gaps and play for the spill.  Again, if for some reason the Mike does get picked off, you are "plus one" with the SS.

Against the triple option we see nothing changes from the above example where the offense runs the play to the away side.  The FS should make his check to Roll and let the new "away side" play either Sky or Solo.
Attack the Offense, Scenario #4- Front Set Away From the Running Back, Coverage Set to the Running Back

This look, again is not one of my favorites, due to the long distance traveled by the Mike LB, however it is still a sound and productive scheme.  To the strong side the DE is a one gapper, and will help play the Spill by the Sam LB.  The three technique is the two-gapper and will close the A gap playing for the cutback.  The Sam LB has a very simple job, fill the B gap to his side.  This gap should be open as the play side guard will be occupied with the three technique and the play side tackle has to handle the strong DE.  On the weak side the one technique makes life miserable for any double and scrape scenario that gets thrown his way.  The center cannot come off as the one technique penetrates up field in the A gap.  The weak DE is a two-gapper and will mash the OT down inside playing the B gap and allowing the Mike to scrape outside and play for the QB.

Nothing new here, as we've seen the triple option run to the read side before.  Again, not my favorite due to the distance traveled by the Mike, but this is a sound scheme if you get caught in this look.

As can be seen, no matter how you set it up, the divorced secondary coupled with the play of the TGOG technique is a very good weapon against the one-back zone option.  This scheme allows LB's to flow freely to the football, all the while allowing lesser athletes to play on your DL and make plays.  Utilizing the split field coverage scheme and playing coverages we already know such as Roll Solo, and Roll Sky make this a dangerous weapon in the hands of the right coordinator.

My preference is to keep the three technique away from the RB.  The read side of the coverage does not concern me because no matter what the offense does, the FS simply makes the adjustment, whether it be checking into Roll against motion, or playing read force when the option is run to the read side.  To me, the inside zone has a tough job running at both a three and a five technique.  Offensive coaches will tell you this is no big deal, but you watch enough film and you will see that zone teams struggle running at a three technique.

Another argument by many DC's is if you don't have the three technique set away from the back you don't have anybody playing for the cutback.  With the TGOG this is untrue.  You always have players dedicated to every gap and every phase of the option.  I think these factors alone are what has sold me on the TGOG scheme.

Keep the emails flowing, I try to get to them at least once a week, but keep in mind I have a job, and a team to coach as well.  Hopefully this stuff is helping!