Virginia Tech and the Fire-Zone Blitz

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Bud Foster fire-zone blitz
Bud Foster hopes to unleash more varied blitzes on opponents in 2019, including the fire-zone blitz. (Ivan Morozov)



Thanks for the memories, Larry.

This week we’ll look at the fire-zone blitz, sometimes called “America’s Blitz” or the “NCAA Blitz.” Though I’m not sure what Coach Foster calls this play, it looks a heckuva lot like Tech’s “Slice” call (more on that at the bottom.) Whatever the name, it’s fun to watch.

Football is about tradeoffs. Zone coverage is both safe and potentially smothering when route-reading rules are applied, but it limits the pass rush. On the other hand, blitzing from man coverage can surprise the heck out of blockers and QBs, but it can weaken coverage by sending potential cover men into the backfield. Dropping extra cover men, such as defensive linemen, can tighten coverages, but it limits the pass rush even more.

The “fire-zone blitz” (or just “fire zone”) mashes all these techniques together in a way that ameliorates weaknesses while presenting a flurry of visual data for blockers and QBs.

For our purposes, we’ll say every fire-zone blitz call includes a few things:

  • Rotating zone coverage, either spot-drop or zone-match
  • A