Perhaps the easiest and most popular read play to install is the inside zone read. Offenses from youth football all the way up to the NFL have adapted some form of the inside zone read. While many programs have put their own stamp on this popular concept, the principles are the same. The offense is going to block the box defenders while reading the backside C gap defender.
The inside zone read allows the offense to cancel a defender without having to block him. It can give you a man advantage. You essentially can get one more blocker to the second level. Defenses have to not only have to cancel gaps, but now they must make sure they account for the QB as a runner. Defensive coordinators have to make sure they have a player assigned to the QB and to the running back. When defenses have to account for the QB, they have to borrow from the secondary, or ask their defenders to react very quickly to get in a position to make sure the QB doesn't run free.
The bowl games were fun to watch as several teams employed different versions of the inside zone read. UCLA ran it well against Kansas State, hitting several big plays. Perhaps the biggest play came in the fourth quarter when K-State was mounting a furious comeback. UCLA needed a big play... and they got one.
The Bruins aligned in a one back gun set with a TE. Essentially this is a pro set, but putting the H back in the slot to the open side forced K-State to have to essentially defend an extra gap up front. K-State's answer was to roll their safety down to 5 yards put him man on the H back.
As you can see from the picture below, Kansas State has a dive and a QB player by alignment.
Because they had two players outside the read side tackle, one of them could play the dive, and one could play the QB.
On the snap of the ball the QB meshed with the dive back and saw the defense had a dive player and a QB player. We teach our QB, "when in doubt, give it out." This is a principle we used back in our option days. We would rather have our back getting downhill and being physical.
The problem for K-State is that both players worked to the QB. Instead of playing their responsibilities, they made a choice to do their own things. The two things that kill a defense faster than anything are blown option responsibilities and missed tackles. Both of these will get defensive coordinators pulling their hair out!
When both players went to the QB, they left a huge void in the C gap. The UCLA's read side guard and tackle did a great job of comboing the 3 Technique to the backside backer, leaving no one to play the dive back.
With the secondary in man coverage, there was no one left when the RB got through the first and second levels of the defense. The result was touchdown run that put UCLA up two scores.
I am sure K-State spent many, many reps drilling their guys on option responsibilities. However, UCLA did a great job of mixing up their looks on the perimeter. That is one of the reasons I love the zone read game. You can show the defense several different looks without having to change your blocking scheme.
If you are looking at adding the Inside Zone Read, or looking for a new wrinkly you can use, 101 Pistol Option Plays is now available as an interactive ibook. It has play diagrams, slides, blocking scheme descriptions, and hours of video! It is divided into two books, and the IS Zone Read and other read game concepts are found in Part Two, which consists of plays 54 to 101 and can be found here:
You must have an ipad or Mac to view the ibook. It will not work on an iphone. If you have a Mac or an ipad, you need to check out this book!
I also have several videos on the pistol and spread offenses. They can be found here: https://coacheschoice.com/m-63-james-vint.aspx
If you are in the Northwest I will be speaking at the Washington State Football Coaches Mid-Winter Clinic January 23rd through the 25th in Seattle!
I can be found on twitter a www.twitter.com/coachvint.