The Virginia Tech Offensive Scheme, Part 7

Virginia Tech
Khalil Herbert had a lot of productive outside runs this season. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Play Identification

Offensive Themes

More Themes

Pass Protection

Run Blocking

Inside Run Plays

DISCLAIMER: There’s nothing in here that the Hokies haven’t discussed publicly or shown in games.

Last week, the runs we focused on hit between the tackles, or at least plays where the primary run tracks hit inside the box. We’re moving a few steps closer to the edge in this installment as we look at the Hokies’ Outside Runs. For the Hokies, “Outside Runs” roughly aim at or outside of the tackle. I’ve got them ordered in terms of how wide the blockers get, with the Stretch Iso slamming lead blockers inside the tackle, Outside Zone generally getting more bodies working to the edge, and pull plays sending blockers outside of the tackle. 

Stretch Iso

Now here’s a play that even had former college coaches confused as to what it was. First, the video:

Gene Chizik and Hugh Freeze were on the analysts’ broadcast stream, and Chizik was calling it an Iso play, while Freeze was calling it an Insert Zone, e.g., an Inside Zone with a fullback isolated on a linebacker.

In this case, Chizik was right, but Freeze had a good point. The play was the Hokies’ Stretch Iso call, a man/base-blocked play that has the play-side blockers stepping to their men in a very zone-ish manner. Fuente calls them “shuffles,” and notes that the center, guard, and tackle will take as many as three shuffles, depending on what the defense does. Those lateral shuffles are what differentiate this play from your basic Iso call. You can see the running back match the shuffling by aiming off-tackle.

The blocking rules are the biggest difference between this play and similar-looking zone calls. First off, the play-side offensive linemen don’t worry about climbing to the next level and finding linebackers, since the only linebacker in the vicinity is accounted for by the H-back, who can attack straight ahead or peel back weak, depending on the call. Second, because the play-side blockers are manned up, they chase their men.

In the video above, Yosuah Nijman (#69) at right tackle attacks his man’s inside shoulder and works him to the sideline. If the DE had crashed hard across Nijman’s face, the Hokie would’ve washed him down inside instead of passing him off to another zone-blocker inside of him. That would close off the intended hole for the RB and force him to bounce outside. And since the defense can also try to slam things hard outside, there’s even a slight chance the ball could even go back over the center.

That’s a feature, though, not a bug. Because the defense can change the blocks, the H-back serves as an adjuster. He’s lined up in a sniffer spot on either side of the QB like he’s heading downhill full-tilt, but if he sees things get jammed in front of him, he bends his route off-tackle. Here’s how the Hokies draw it up: