A Better Way to Run the Down Play?

A Better Way to Block Down?

Coach Kroeger from Delphos Jefferson in Ohio sent me a helpful note with some different blocking rules for down that he uses in his program. He is the offensive line coach at the high school.

First, go check out the article I wrote on troubleshooting the down play. This will give you an orientation on the blocking rules, but as you'll notice I focus on the play-side blocking.

Here's a comment from Jon:

When we install down we emphasize that the backside is just as important as the play side. The play side of Down is the same as any Wing-T team, Tackle and TE block down, WB goes second level unless he gets a “gap” call from the TE and the guard kicks out the end man on the line. The back side (from the center on back) is very simple: Zone step through your play side gap to get to the next level.

Here are some more details on what Jon means by “zone step… To get to the next level.”:

  • The center, backside guard, backside tackle all take a zone step to playside. This is a short, six inch step which will look similar to a reach step but more downhill towards the defense.
  • Next they take a crossover step with their backside foot, crossing over their playside foot to get as far as they can.
  • For the center, let's assume there is a 3 technique DT on playside. The center should head towards his heels then get to the second level.
  • The backside guard executes the same footwork, staying tight to the center and trying to grab his belt. Jon calls this “walking the dog”.
  • Same for the backside tackle.
  • In all cases, they will rip or evade through any defensive linemen and get to the second level.
  • If you are running Down with a double tight end, the backside TE executes a touchdown block and tries to get to the safety or anyone above the point of attack.

I haven't implemented this myself, but I'm going to use these rules in the upcoming season. My only fear is the center evading the DT and a good defender getting into backfield to disrupt the QB/FB exchange. To deal with this, ensure that the fullback is getting downfield fast and that the QB has proper footwork getting down the line of scrimmage.

Thanks Jon for the tip!