What to look for in Clemson v. Bama Part II

With Clemson and Alabama set for a rematch in the National Championship game, I’ll be looking for two specific plays Clemson had success with in their win over Ohio State: the QB counter pitch and a unique jet sweep pitch. Let’s take a further look at each scheme.

QB Counter Pitch

The QB counter pitch is a natural evolution of the QB counter trey read, depicted below:

Instead of riding the QB/RB mesh point and reading the end man on the line of scrimmage, Clemson creates fast flow and misdirection with the QB’s first step and a fake pitch. As for the blocking, there are two pullers like counter trey read, but the Center and H-back pull instead of the Guard and Tackle. This makes the blocking scheme more like Counter OF, and is a better fit for the backfield action. Below, Clemson gets the middle Linebacker and play side Defensive End blocked without ever touching them because of the pitch action:

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Cam Newton’s Big Run: A look at the Inverted/Power Veer

In the Panthers Week 15 win, Cam Newton became the first player in NFL history with 5 passing TD and 100 rush yards in the same game. He gained 47 of these yards on one play with one of the Panthers favorite QB run concepts: the Inverted or Power Veer. Let’s take a further look at the concept.

The Panthers start with two receivers left and one receiver right along with Tight End Greg Olsen. The Giants are in a 4-3 defense, with the 1 and 7 technique to the left side, and a 3 and 7 technique to the right side. Even on 1st & 10, with 2 high safeties, the Giants are outnumbered 8 on 6 in the box:

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Split Zone

With many NFL teams using zone blocking concepts to run the ball, the Split Zone is a variation of both inside zone as well as the zone read. It is a great complimentary concept because it aligns with an offense’s zone principles but gives the defense a different look and blocking scheme. Split Zone can be run from both Shotgun and under center. Here, the Seahawks run Split Zone against the Packers for a Touchdown from Shotgun in 11 personnel (1RB 1TE 3 WR):

Split Zone (like inside zone or zone read) entails all lineman taking a play side zone step, or stepping with their play side foot first toward where the run is designed to go. Like Zone Read, the end man on the line of scrimmage is left unblocked by the offensive line. Continue reading

The Zone Read / Read Option Chess Match: How Belichick and the Versatile Pats D handled Russell Wilson & Marshawn Lynch

The Zone Read (or Read Option) played an integral part of Super Bowl 49. It is undoubtedly a staple in the Seahawk offense, and as I wrote in my SB XLIX preview, how the Patriots defended the Zone Read from an X’s and O’s standpoint would be crucial to the outcome of the game. The Patriots used their strength (the secondary) and almost exclusively played Cover 1. This allowed the Front 7 to play uncommon fronts and do a variety of things including feather, crash, loop, and squeeze the Read. By my count, not including the last Seattle drive, the Seahawks ran 12 Zone Read type plays out of 46 offensive plays, over a quarter of all their plays. Let’s take a further look at each Zone Read:

1st Quarter, 10:52, 0-0, 2nd and 7: Ball to Seattle 24 for Gain of 5

The Pre-Snap look with blocking assignments:

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