Friday, 12 August 2011

Blocking Zone, Tackle Zone and the Box

The Blocking Zone is defined by the NCAA Rules as:

Blocking Zone


a. The blocking zone is a rectangle centered on the snapperand extending five yards laterally and three yards longitudinally in each direction.

b. The blocking zone disintegrates when the ball leaves the zone.

The Tackle Zone is defined by the NCAA rules as:
The tackle box is the rectangular area enclosed by the neutral zone, the two lines parallel to the sidelines five yards from the snapper, and Team A’s end line.

Regarding Blocking Below The Waist, the Ruling includes a Depth of 10yards beyond the LoS.

It is interesting to note the difference between the two areas as they do have differing Legal ramifications. The Blocking Zone dictates, for example, who can Cut and Clip and who cannot. The Tackle box, for example, regulates limitations on Illegal Forward passes and Running into/Roughing the Kicker (watch out you Rugby Punters).

Note however that this does not have anything to do with the Defensive Box. There are no NCAA Rules which cover this Counting Method.

The Defensive "Box" is typically an area as wide as the alignment of Opposite Offensive EMOLs and 5yards into the Defensive Backfield. This can vary from one Coach to another, but its reasoning is pretty common. In order to Play the run we place more defenders inside the Box PreSnap, to play the pass we align more players outside the Box PreSnap. The "Box" therefore is a tool used to get a numbers advantage.

The Following Diagrams show how I teach the Defensive Box with respect to various offensive Surfaces. The green area highlights the Defensive Box and the red area highlights the Void area for the Hybrid
(The Void area is an area in which the Hybrid should not align. A hybrid in our system will not align tighter than a 7 tech regardless of depth. Only on Punt Return is it permisable to align closer than an 8.)






The Odd Stack Defence is made up of 6 Box Players, the Down Linemen and the Linebackers are the only Box players available. Though these Box players are heavily supported by the Hybrid position, the Hybrids cannot be considered Box Personel as they never align inside the Blocking Box (if they did they would loose Force due to Alignment alone). Note that my Strategy is to contain the run and force the Ballcarrier back inside to the teeth of the Defence. In a Spill oriented Defence you could align the Hybrids inside the box.

The Blocking Zone allows the Defensive Front to define the Run Strong side and thus the required Alignments within our Box and the respective Assignment per Alignment. Importantly it allows the recognition of potential Bubbles (Gaps) in the defensive front and any respective Checks that arise due to Defensive and Offensive Front mismatches.


Standard Alignment for our Defence is a Stacked 4-0-4. Meaning that the Defensive Tackles are in a 4Tech (Heads Up with the Offensive Tackles) and the Nose Tackle is aligned in the 0Tech (Heads up with the Center). The Linebackers are stacked behind their respective Lineman as a Base. This allows us to Plug the B Gaps with our Stronger but slower DTs and shoot the playside C Gaps with our Faster LBs. Another variant to the Odd Stack is align the DL wider and use 2 DEs in 5Tech and have them go to the C gap and the LBs shoot the B gap. This is not my personal preference as you are showing the Offensive what you are doing PreSnap, which is against one of my principles on Defence: Deception. But more on this in another post.

We only break the Stack in the event of an Over or Under Front, in which case we move the Tandembacker down to the 6Tech on Los and Slant our Defensive Line to create a 3Tech to the Run Strong Side for the Over Front or slant for a 3Tech to the Run Weak side for the Under Front. If we play an Over or under Front we will stack the Mike and Backside Tandembacker in what we call 20Tech. The 20 tech aligns the LB Heads up with the Offensive Guard at reglar depth.

If there is no Split Receiver outside the Hybrid he will Nub. By Nub we mean align on the LoS to the 8Tech or 1st empty Heads up tech outside of the 8. We Nub by coming onto the LoS and placing our Inside Foot forward and our Outside foot slightly behind. The weight distribution is such that the most weight is placed over the front knee. Our inside arm is bent to 90° with the palms out and our Outside arm is relaxed. The Alignment allows us to reduce the amount of Block releases that the Hybrid will have to analyse as well as the amount of blocks. From this position the potential EMOL can only Kick the Hybrid out. It is very hard to Reach against this alignment and it allows for quick seperation and escape from EMOL blocks.

Box Assignments:

Any Defensive is only as good as the execution of its Assignments. As a player the Option Game was a Puzzle to me as I could never figure out where the Ball was going and who it was going to, this was further influenced by a lack of understanding from the Coaches as to how to defend the Option. As soon as you are confused as a Defensive Player you've lost the Down. Its that simple and clear cut. Now we did all the usual and some unusual things in an attempt to stop Option play, but until recently we never enjoyed sustained success through our Scheme.

We have installed a robust system of Assignment recognition:

On Line - Chase

The Defensive EMOL will be responsible for Chase. Note that the EMOL can be defined as a Hybrid although he is not a Box player.
Chase is responsible for all Reverse and QB movement in his direction on any Running and Passing Play.
Meaning that when he is the backside defender on any run play he must look to the WR on the PS to determine any reverse action.
Regardless of backfield flow the Chase player must put his eyes on the QB and go with him on any QB movement his way untill he is sure which Offensive player is the BC.

Off Line - Collar

The Outside 2nd level player will be responsible for Collar. Note that the Outside 2nd level player can be defined as the Hybrid, when he is not aligned over a Slot WR to the Field side.
Collar is responsible for all Cutback action of the Ballcarrier on any Running Play.
Meaning that while the PS 2nd Level is hustling to the BC the Collar player will slow play the BS of the BCs flow.
This is my Philosophical view of the Box and how I use it to strengthen the Defence. I feel that it is important to teach the differences between Box, Blocking Zone and Tackle Box to the players. This will allow the Defence to play quicker within this high contact area once they understand these simple concepts.

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