F͟I͟L͟M͟ R͟O͟O͟M͟: Outside Zone

For a while now I have been begging to see more of the Outside Zone play at AU. As someone who played LB.. I can assure you this is the most difficult play to defend. It is next to impossible to stop when the OL and RB are able to execute the rules of the scheme.

There are a few things that make this play so great. It does not require an OL to overpower a DL, it only requires them to be disciplined—something recent Auburn offenses have lacked.

The keys to this play are the first step—also known as the zone step or bucket step. A great first step can get the OL positioned to overtake or climb to the next level cleanly. Then landing hands and hat on the aiming point of the defender. The aiming point is usually the outside hip-shoulder area going towards the play side.

The following are some excerpts from my play breakdowns from 2020. These are all examples of Outside Zone running plays.


  • I love this play call.

  • Anyone who has listened to me ramble before knows that I’m a huge fan of the Outside Zone. It’s so tough.

  • Manning (LG) here doesn’t take the correct steps and lets the man he’s supposed to cut off leak through.

  • Bro Hamm (RT) could never get his head across his man, but he stays with it as long as he can and this stretches the play for Bigsby to find a crease.

  • Shenker (H-Back) does a good enough job here to get the first down, but if he keeps working the block out, Tank might have sprung loose here.

  • Bigsby here makes this play work because he plays it out as far as he can until he finds a crease to hit. The OL stays on their blocks long enough to get the first.

  • 4 yard gain and a first down.

1st and 10 - OUTSIDE ZONE LEFT

  • Looks like a bad angle taken inside and a DL comes free but this play is made to get outside of that and depend on the play side tackle to reach the edge.

  • While this play never looked cleanly executed by the OL, its still effective; The steps were never in sync.

  • Alec Jackson can’t reach and wrap the end but he stays on the block all the way to the sideline beautifully and Bigsby cuts up field off of the block. Good work there.

  • If the rest of the OL executes their steps, they are probably able to cut off 6 and get a hat on the safety who makes the tackle. Still results in a gain of 7 with all the miscues.

  • Great thought to come back to the Outside Zone. Wish it would happen more often.


  • If you’re just watching this play, it looks like Bro Hamm is the problem.. and while he is the problem, he did not miss his assignment.

  • The problem is his first step. He false steps backward to start the play. His job here is to reach the end man on the LOS and try to move up to the next level while the guard overtakes. He goes to the correct shoulder but because of the backward step to start with, the defender gets up field and disrupts the whole play.

  • This also confuses Jones because he isn’t looking to work the quick combo with Hamm and never gets the chance.


  • Don’t particularly like the style of this one. Backside guard and tackle gap-hinge instead of an OZ step.

  • Excellent rep by the OL here—particularly Hamm, Jones, and Brahms who work their guys all the way to the sideline.

  • Shivers finds some room outside of them and this is the beauty of this play. Stay on your block as long as possible and the RB will do the rest.


  • Shivers is usually the guy they like to run OZ with and he gets a shot here.

  • The across motion with Seth Williams brought a guy away from the play side.

  • Great work by Hamm and Deal as they work a combo on the edge guy. Deal works by him and Hamm takes over as Deal works up to the next level. Excellent.

  • Shivers gets to the perimeter and finishes the run the correct way.

  • I’ll say it again.. I want to see this play more!


  • Tight Doubles (2x2) set here

  • Outside Zone Right is the call.

  • Harsin is big on the heavy sets when running OZ. This gives multiple lane options front side and back side for the RB.

  • The back sees some lanes and then cuts back behind the center—who works to over take the shade.

  • The back is not running laterally, instead more north to find a quick lane. This is a big difference

  • Again, a heavy set, 2 TE‘s. Both TE’s seal the edge and slot receiver handles the alley safety.

  • I love how this play is more of a downhill running play coming from under center.

  • Uncovered OL climb quickly up to the second level and cut the backers off from inside out.

  • If the center was able to cut off the ILB, this play probably goes for a lot more as he makes the play.

  • This time they run it to the weak side of the formation and to the boundary.

  • LG and LT both stay on their aiming points and keep working the DL to the sidelines.. the back follows this and then cuts last minute up field inside their blocks.

  • They ran this OZ away from the bunch and to the boundary.. running this play to the boundary opens up the cut back.

  • The backs for Boise seemed to have a better understanding of how to hit this play more quickly and more precisely.

  • This play could not be tougher to defend.

If you have any questions or comments I am always available and willing to discuss.

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