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How to Drill Wide Zone with a Half-Line

The Wide Zone play requires a lot of time and effort if you want to achieve success. So you’ve got to have a solid drill that gets lots of reps and still benefits every player involved. This wide zone half line drill does just that.

This drill is set up using the entire width of the field mimicking our landmarks for our receivers and running backs (numbers & hash marks).

Split your offensive line into two groups depending on your philosophy. If you flip flop your offensive linemen or have a strong and quick side then you will want to be sure they get repetitions both ways. I do think it is valuable to have your offensive line trained to be able to play either right or left side. You do you.

To operate this drill effectively, you will need to utilize 2 centers, 2 quarterbacks and 2 running backs. I would also consider if you have the numbers to do so to put your backside guards in this drill as well so they can work with your center on the wide zone technique with a head up nose or shade. 

How to Set Up and Run the Drill

Diagram 1: Wide Zone Half Line Drill Set Up

As you notice in the diagram, we have included our wide receivers and defensive backs in the drill as we feel like this play turning at some points into a perimeter run that those blocking techniques need to be worked. You may choose to exclude them and work other skills and drills during this drill. 

Our coaching of the quarterback and running back in our version of wide zone is from the pistol with a reverse out and then boot action so be sure to pay special attention to your quarterbacks’ boot action. If you have space, you may want to have the right side group start 10 yards or more behind the left side group so your quarterbacks are not booting into each other if that is a technique you use. 

Coaching Points

This drill is designed to get you multiple and high tempo reps at wide zone so that your offensive line and back can work together. That relationship between the offensive line and running back in the wide zone is quite important and unique so working together is paramount. 

We all may have different techniques that we teach in wide zone or outside zone, but having your offensive line and running back work those techniques together is critical. 

For us, our offensive line is taking a wide zone step and trying to get to the outside shoulder of their man. Once they engage or climb to the next level, they are to lock on that defender and either reach him or turn him out depending on how the defender plays the play. The defender can’t be right if our offensive line stays engaged. We want vertical movement, but strive to create horizontal space as well. 

Our running back is taking a track like a train on train tracks to the butt crack of the tight end (or ghost tight end.) His eyes are open and looking to either Bend, Bang, or Bounce the play depending on the green grass he sees and the blocking in front of him. I have a great Bend, Bang, Bounce drill that teaches this technique on buckets.

We want him to read the blocks of the offensive line, the flow of the defenders, and look for green grass. We coach him to make one cut and explode through the line of scrimmage. Once we are through the line of scrimmage, we are looking to get to “The Expressway.”

For us, an expressway is where cars go fast so we want to get to the area of the field where we can go fast. “The Expressway” on a football field is outside the numbers. It is where you will typically encounter the least number of defenders and create tough pursuit angles for all defenders. 

This drill just allows you to practice an important chunk of this play multiple times. The backside blocking is important and should be worked as well, but the relationship and timing on the front side is critical.

This allows you to drill down on those techniques and focus your attention there as well as allows you multiple repetitions with both sides of your offensive line to block multiple fronts and techniques. 

Check out this great video representation of the wide zone Half line drill here from Notre Dame Football as shared by Coach Danny Schaechter on Twitter:

One word of caution is that you have to discipline your backs to not always cut back during half line. It is always open because there are no backside defenders.

Variations

  • In the pre-season, I would recommend running multiple different alignments as chunks by your defense. Utilizing half line allows you to show many different fronts with minimal teaching of the scout defense. As you continue through your season, then obviously you would tailor the drill to your opponent’s tendencies. 
  • While we typically like to run wide zone to a 3 man surface, you can take out the tight end if you run wide zone to an open side and then work your slot receivers blocking the D gap defender which is our general run game rule. 
  • RPO’s are a simple addition to this drill. We don’t typically do much RPO game in the wide zone scheme because we are in the pistol, but we could work our wide zone glance concept with a post by the outside receiver if the safety is a fast fill defender.

This article was originally published in Headsets: Volume 1, Issue 5.

Lee Weber

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