Blocking the ISO / Belly Sweep

Blocking the ISO Sweep

A coach Jim from New York asked me this question:

Could you please go into more depth on what the blocking assignment is for the play-side HB/WB on the ISO (Belly) sweep? The only defense we will see is some form of a 6–2. Is the WB/HB always responsible for the inside backer? If the outside backer walks up does he now have to try and log him?

That’s a great question. Let’s start with a few assumptions and assertions:

  • A 6–2 is an even front that can look a lot like a 4–4 stack or even a 4–2–5 depending on alignment.
  • The key point is that you’ve got 8 defenders in or very close to the box.
  • I’ll assume the defensive ends (we call them hawks here in Sherwood and think of them as more linebacker than end) are playing close to the line of scrimmage and are the designated force player. On the weak / split end side he will probably play 1–2 yards outside the offensive tackle, possibly just an outside shade on the wing if you are in a double wing (Rose or Lily) formation.

Let’s review the rules for the 49 ISO Sweep play. I’ll assume a “Sally” (cross-block) call from the play-side guard as that will almost always be the case against this defense:

  • LT – Block down play-side B gap
  • LG – Pull and log-block first man outside LT
  • C – Down block back-side A gap
  • RG – Pull flat to play-side and bubble around LH back. Log if possible, otherwise kick-out
  • RT – Reach block back-side B gap
  • TE – Reach block back-side C gap (you can also send him on a cut-off block)
  • QB – Reverse pivot on left foot behind the midline; mesh with FB on second step and ride belly fake for one step; take one more step with depth and hand ball to RH, then fake ISO pass
  • FB – Step with left foot keeping shoulders square to LOS and gaining about 6“; crossover with right foot while keeping shoulders square; third step with left foot gains another 6” with shoulders still square; ride belly fake and step to 7 hole and GET TACKLED
  • LHB – Jab step with left foot out and towards the LOS, then aim for outside leg of LG; for BOB block he will block LB through B gap; for Sally it will be directly over the LT
  • RHB – Open step (like Down Sweep) on right foot to square shoulders laterally to FB then run sweep motion; don’t get deeper than original FB position and take hand-off for sweep; read pulling guard block; cut outside if log or inside if kick-out
  • WR – Block CB (you can also have him run ISO pass route)

ISO Sweep vs 6-2 Defense

Against the 6–2 defense the blocking scheme would look something like the above. So back to Jim’s question:

Is the WB/HB always responsible for the inside backer? If the outside backer walks up does he now have to try and log him?

We always have the HB take the inside backer. The main reason is that we want this play to always look just like ISO. So who is responsible for the DE? The back-side guard is responsible for him, and as you see in the diagram we prefer a log block on him (easier if he is squeezing) but if he stays wide and sets up for force / contain, we will kick him out.

ISO Sweep

That said, look at the video above. We find that when this play works best, we don’t even have to block that end. He locks his eyes on the FB and takes him out of the play. I have so many video clips of this happening (at both youth and HS) it makes me wonder if the blocking is all that important. It is, it is – you will play a disciplined defense at times and the rules need to be strong.

One nuance about the play-side half-back / wing-back that you’ll need to work out on your own: should he go through the B gap (splitting the cross block) or do you have him fold around the guard? We’ve done it both ways. We find when he starts in the WB position it is easier to go straight at the inside backer and not come around through the gap. From the HB position I think you might be best running him straight through the gap over the butt of the tackle.