Sprint-Out Pass – RB Blocking

31 Jul
It’s about speed and leverage.  Speed to the perimeter and leverage at the edge.

To get there faster — “there” being the outside — many coaches will run their sprint-out to the weakside since that represents the shortest distance to the perimeter.

Weakside and Edge

It’s how we run it and it’s the scheme we most often saw used in our research.

But how you “set the edge” as coaches say — meaning how you leverage the contain defender — will determine if you even get into the perimeter.

At our level the edge is generally occupied by a DE in a wide technique.  He’s purposely set outside to prevent the perimeter from being exploited.   Sealing him off presents a few challenges, especially if he’s taught to widen when attacked.

Wide DE Alignment

If you’re using a Full Zone scheme, you’re basically reaching and sliding on the first step and, if no contact is made, hinging on the second.   But if the DE is still beyond the PST’s reach attempt then many coaches will teach him to get on the DE’s inside hip/number and bench him towards the sideline.

The idea being if he wants stay wide then take him wide — all the way to the sideline if possible.

PST Blocking DE Inside-Out

Multiple problems arise when using this countermove however.  The first is that the QB often has to pull up short and execute his reads behind the block and not beyond it where he is a threat to the perimeter defenders.

Another problem is the gap between the PSG and PST.  It widens as the PST benches the DE, allowing a LB to run thru and pressure, if not sack, the QB who is pulling up short of the perimeter.

LB Run Thru

Lastly, let’s say there is no LB run thru then the other part of the problem is the backside defenders.  When the QB pulls up short they now have a shorter distance to travel to either pressure or sack him from behins so how you block the backside becomes a critical factor.

Reaching a wide DE is a tough assignment for even the most skilled PST.  Hooking him is virtually impossible.  The solution to the “edge” problem then rests with the RBs.

We say “running backs” — the plural form — for two reasons:  it’s what we do and therefore know and, as our research has revealed, it’s considered the best way to handle the edge.

We run two backs out of a Slot I formation.  The FB is offset to the weakside where he’s closer to the edge, thus can attack the perimeter quicker but is still in a position to lead block on Iso-G or to run Trap to the backside.

Slot "I" Formation with FB Offset to Weakside

The traditional way to block the edge is to use Power play-action with two backs filling at the corner.

Power Pass with 2 RBs

The first RB — usually the FB — is always the one closest to the PST. He will attack downhill, aiming for the outside hip of the PST where he will pick up the first contain man, generally a DE.  He must realize that the PST will widen by stepping and shuffling to the playside, so he must adjust his downhill angle while aiming for the outside hip of the defender with his inside shoulder, thereby sealing him inside.

The second back will use the same technique but his point of attack will be off the outside hip of the first running backs block. He will help the first back if needed and look for an outside linebacker blitz.

This is standard stuff and a good scheme at our level, but we do it differently.  Because of the DE’s wide alignment, we feel we have a better chance of hooking him if we “sprint” release the FB to the outside and fill in behind him with the IB.

Our "Switch" scheme with the FB sprinting out

We say “sprint” release rather than “arc” because we don’t want the FB to visualize, thus perform, a looping action into the perimeter and interfere with the QB’s path.  We want him close to the LOS and to the contain defender.

When the DE sees the FB “sprinting” into the perimeter, he has two choices: he can widen with the FB or he can attack him.  He generally does the latter, especially when he sees the QB sprinting into the perimeter behind the FB.   The contact is shallow and immediate and allows the FB to work to the DE’s playside hip — just like the PST would do were he able to reach him.

If the DE flattens out and widens, then the FB flattens out and widens as well.  Our thinking is that so long as he’s not coming upfield, he’s not preventing the QB from getting into the perimeter and we can still execute our sprint-out attack.

FB reaction to DE flattening out

The key to our scheme is the shallow release of the FB.   Should the QB yell “Go” — our signal that he’s running the ball — the FB will attack the contain defender’s inside hip and drive him out, creating an alley for the QB to run upfield.

It’s not rocket science but it works for us as we routinely see wide DE’s — too wide for our PST to reach.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: