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O-Line - - Need Some Football X's and O's Expert Thoughts


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Okay, I have been trying to figure out the reasons why (it appears) the O-Line has regressed in performance, thus contributing to an anemic running game. I read somewhere that it may be because of a change to "zone blocking" versus "man blocking." I love football but I rely on a lot of you to teach me true X's and O's (I only ever played interhall FB at ND and I also grew up in the pre-Madden video game days so I have not garnered any insights by virtue of playing those games which, admittedly, would likely give me a better understanding of X's and O's - but then, again, it is what I rely upon many of you for). So, educate me. Is this the reason for O-Line woes? Is it even happening? What are these two schemes? What is the qualitative difference between the two schemes and why is one or the other favored based upon the skill set of existing personnel? Now, before I get flamed, please bear in mind I am not bashing ANY player, scheme or coach. Nor am I suggesting that the O-Line stinks. I frankly only see what I see on Saturdays, read what I read and am left with the question I pose. I sincerely appreciate any 'edumacating' anyone can give to me on this subject.

Best,

W

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Okay, I have been trying to figure out the reasons why (it appears) the O-Line has regressed in performance, thus contributing to an anemic running game. I read somewhere that it may be because of a change to "zone blocking" versus "man blocking." I love football but I rely on a lot of you to teach me true X's and O's (I only ever played interhall FB at ND and I also grew up in the pre-Madden video game days so I have not garnered any insights by virtue of playing those games which, admittedly, would likely give me a better understanding of X's and O's - but then, again, it is what I rely upon many of you for). So, educate me. Is this the reason for O-Line woes? Is it even happening? What are these two schemes? What is the qualitative difference between the two schemes and why is one or the other favored based upon the skill set of existing personnel? Now, before I get flamed, please bear in mind I am not bashing ANY player, scheme or coach. Nor am I suggesting that the O-Line stinks. I frankly only see what I see on Saturdays, read what I read and am left with the question I pose. I sincerely appreciate any 'edumacating' anyone can give to me on this subject.

Best,

W

 

Here is a little more info:

 

One of the simplest reasons many teams have incorporated zone blocking in their offenses is that zone blocking rules do not change based on the defensive front. In a "man block" system, blockers are paired with defenders according to certain rules to create a running lane. If the defensive front changes, or if the defense stunts or blitzes, the blocking rules may change. This requires learning multiple rules for the same play. Zone blocking uses very consistent rules that do not change according to the defensive front.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_blocking

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Zone-blocking is about blocking and controlling—you guessed it—zones, or areas, instead of assigned guys. With zone blocking schemes, each offensive lineman’s first read is to see if they’re covered (have a man directly across from him). If he’s covered, he’ll block man-up just like in normal man-blocking schemes; one-on-one, beat-the-guy-across-from-you stuff. If he’s uncovered actual “zone-blocking” comes into play.

 

On zone reads, the uncovered lineman’s first step is lateral (or sometimes backwards), to the play-side and he’ll look to double team the DL on the kid next to him. Once that DL is controlled, one of the O-lineman is supposed to slide off, get to the next level, and put their hat on an LB. This is the complicated part, and why I believe ND’s line is having so much trouble. The players still seem to be getting the feel for the delicacies of the scheme, and the overall performance is suffering. In zone-blocking schemes, the maxim that the O-line is only as strong as its weakest link is more true than ever. The unit must operate efficiently, as a team, if not, the whole line suffers. While Golic has been justifiably getting a lot of flak for his performance so far this season, I think Christian Lombard might be the weakest link in the O-Line chain: the kid looks a little out-of-place and a step too slow to be playing tackle in this offense. He’s late to his areas and is easily overpowered by his man one-on-one. Together, he and Golic are unable to consistently gain control of the zones they’re being tasked with blocking, and I believe this is affecting everything on ND’s offense from play-calling to QB play.

 

Why zone blocking? Well, zone blocking doesn’t require behemoth guys like man-blocking schemes do, which explains a large part of its popularity—it’s difficult to amass a roster full of dudes that size, particularly at the college level. The typical zone-blocking lineman hovers around 300lbs and relies more on his quickness than brute strength. Considering that the O-linemen on ND’s roster average 295 lbs and move exceptionally well (one of the factors Kelly keys on when recruiting O-linemen), Heistand already had the ideal personnel at his disposal for a switch to zone-blocking.

Edited by phony
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Considering that the O-linemen on ND’s roster average 295 lbs and move exceptionally well (one of the factors Kelly keys on when recruiting O-linemen), Heistand already had the ideal personnel at his disposal for a switch to zone-blocking.

 

Nothing about his offensive line seems ideal so far this season...

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Furthermore, zone-blocking should play into the strengths of ND’s backs, namely their decisiveness/vision and cutting ability. Zone-blocking forces the back to find the hole for himself (even if it hasn’t quite developed yet), make one cut and get up field. For a back like Cierre who has excellent quickness and cutting ability, the zone-blocking scheme allows him to choose his hole, then rely on his natural abilities to exploit the defense once he’s through the line. For reasons beyond our understanding, Cierre hasn’t yet played a huge role in the running game. It’s simplistic (and I don’t mean that as a slight), but as Cory has suggested, there’s a chance we’ll see ND’s running game improve dramatically with increased carries from Wood.

 

Same as with the linemen, the RBs have to adjust to this new scheme. They have to know what the line is doing and be willing to fit themselves within the plan; be patient and take whatever yards are presented. In many ways zone-blocking eschews big-chunk running plays in favor of a more methodic, 3 yards here, 4 yards there, type of running game. Big plays will undoubtedly be hit (think MSU game), but only if the line and RBs are working together symbiotically. As such, consistency is prized above all other results.

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And that brings me to what I think is the real reason behind ND’s shift towards a zone-blocking scheme: its quarterbacks. Because zone-blocking thrives on simplicity (blocking specific areas) it negates the effectiveness of defenses that attempt to confuse the opponent’s signal caller. There is no calling out the blocking assignments in zone-blocking; you line up, snap the ball, and the lineman get to the area the playcall has designated to be blocked. This removes one more concern from a young QB’s already crowded plate and, theoretically, allows them to do what they do best: play football. Sadly, ND’s passing attack hasn’t been able to take advantage of the defense’s choice/need to crowd the box. Hitting some vertical passes will no doubt improve the running game, but the most important factors in working out the kinks in the ground attack are likely time and repetition for the O-Lineman and RBs.

 

Technique must be worked on over and over and over to get the lateral step right, or figuring out when to drop a double-team and then work to the next level. This all takes some time to get down perfectly. As the linemen and RBs become more comfortable with the technique, their assignments, and the nuances of the scheme, we’ll hopefully see an improvement . . .

Edited by phony
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http://www.domerdomain.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38181

 

I did a thread on this ealier.

 

But we did not switch from "man blocking" to zone blocking" We switched from a one style of zone blocking to another. Last year we did alot of pin and pull zone blocking. This year its more traditional zone blocking

 

In short though the scheme is only a minor change, the major change is losing an under appreciated technician in Trevor Robinson and a guy that did his Job in Dever. Golic is a center playing guard and Lombard has not played

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This is the best explanation about the poor running back so far this year:

 

"An area Kelly mentioned where Golson continues to work on is checking from one play to another at the line of scrimmage. He said one reason the Irish were able to advance in the running game from 2010 to 2011 was Tommy Rees’ ability to make good checks, but first-year starter Golson is not there yet."

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And that brings me to what I think is the real reason behind ND’s shift towards a zone-blocking scheme: its quarterbacks. Because zone-blocking thrives on simplicity (blocking specific areas) it negates the effectiveness of defenses that attempt to confuse the opponent’s signal caller. There is no calling out the blocking assignments in zone-blocking; you line up, snap the ball, and the lineman get to the area the playcall has designated to be blocked. This removes one more concern from a young QB’s already crowded plate and, theoretically, allows them to do what they do best: play football. Sadly, ND’s passing attack hasn’t been able to take advantage of the defense’s choice/need to crowd the box. Hitting some vertical passes will no doubt improve the running game, but the most important factors in working out the kinks in the ground attack are likely time and repetition for the O-Lineman and RBs.

 

Technique must be worked on over and over and over to get the lateral step right, or figuring out when to drop a double-team and then work to the next level. This all takes some time to get down perfectly. As the linemen and RBs become more comfortable with the technique, their assignments, and the nuances of the scheme, we’ll hopefully see an improvement . . .

 

Very well put phony. The zone scheme can also be very helpful when teams are switching fronts and lbs are moving all over the place. The timing of the double team can be very difficult and the the backs can help by being patient and seeing cut back lanes. It takes a ton of work but can be very effective. I wouldn't mind also seeing a little less zone with double teams and more of the "old school" zone where the online is trying to step one direction and reach the defensive linemen in the gap and allow the uncoverd olineman climb to the lbs quicker.

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Also, keep in mind that one missed block can blow up a WHOLE play. That has happened time and time again with Golic/Lombard/and any TE not named Eifert. We have been one block away from big gains a least 8 times I remember seeing in just the two home games I have watched.

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[ame]

[/ame] about 6:30 in the video

 

I wanted this here because when he talks about Cierre he answers the question the OP had,

 

He reference his switch from "gap and pull zone" to what he calls "inside zone" and "outside zone" traditional zone blocking. The reason he mentioned was BK himself is "used to" inside zone and outside zone. so he says, "I can be more nosy"

 

He says the Running Backs need to be more patient and they did a better job this week. I assume he means use the front door more and the cut back less.

 

As Phony and NDtide DC suggest the timing is touchy because the running has to see if when the combo blocker is going to be able to climb to the linebacker and what crease results. I just thought it was interesting to add BK's take on it.

Edited by FaithInIrishForever
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