PODS DRILL: Part 2 - Zone Dive


I normally start out the PODS drill working Zone Dive first.  This is usually the first skill taught in this drill because we install Inside Veer first and we start out against a 7 man front (50 and then 4-3).  We normally don't put the Load tag in until later, so Zone Dive is our starting point in this drill.

The way I run Zone Dive is probably different from other people.  Most people associate Zone Dive with Zone blocking principles like Inside Zone or Outside Zone, but I don't really teach it that way.  I teach it more as a matchup zone principle in basketball, at least when it comes to the Tackle and A-back.  The Guards rules are different.


  • The Tackle will utilize a Board Step technique (6" up/over step and run the board) for this play.  The Tackle's steps go off his Veer rules, because we are trying to make it look like Veer to the defense.  "Is the PSG covered or uncovered?" :
    • If PSG is covered, Tackle will take an inside Board Step.
    • If PSG is uncovered (Uncle), the Tackle will take an outside Board Step.
  • The A-back will utilize what I call a Rugby technique for this play.  The A-back will cheat from his normal alignment and get closer to the Tackle's butt.  When he leans forward he wants to be close enough to wrap his arm around the Tackle's outside leg.  On the snap, the A-back will step with his inside foot (like LOAD) and get his shoulder on the Tackle's butt cheek.  I tell the A-back to push the Tackle with his shoulder (like a Rugby scrum).
  • If you make it upfield without contact, get your eyes inside for defenders coming towards you.  If you are in contact, stay in contact and run your feet.


  • 50 Cov 4 (Stunts: Blood, Up, Squeeze, 3-2 Exchange)
  • 4-3 Cov 4 (Stunts: EZ, Up, Squeeze, 3-2)
  • 4-2 Cov 3 (Stunts: Blood, Up, Squeeze)
  • 3-3 Cov 3 (Stunts: EZ, Blood, Up, Squeeze)


As I showed you in the Part 1 Blog-Setup, the defensive movements and setup are critical to getting quality reps.  We're going to run Zone Dive against the defensive looks below.  It's important to understand that we're always going to Scrape the BOB ILB's to the "B" or "C" gap when we run the Zone Dive.  If the ILB is plugging the "A" gap and not scraping outside, then we're never going to run Zone Dive.

The defensive movements below are a guideline.  It's hard to replicate on paper their actual movements.  Basically, the DE can only do 3 things every play (slant in, slant out, go straight upfield).  Generally, the DE movements are not the problem.  The hardest one to replicate is the OLB.  The OLB will have a hand shield.  Have them put their Inside arm through both handles of the hand shield so that they can run and give the proper resistance.  The OLB will also have 3 movements: Blood stunt to QB (hard inside), Step upfield and squat, or Run outside to pitch.

Defensive Movements/Stunts


  • You have to coach the defenders on this drill.  You have to give a direction for all 4 guys.  If you take time to teach the Stunts that are listed and come up with signals for them, it will make the drill go smoother and more realistic.  It will also help teach your players what the defense will try to do to stop us.
  • The Tackle has to RUN the board and get upfield.  This is not a Man blocking scheme.  The Tackle can't get fixated on the DE.  Most common errors that I see our guys make are hopping to the DE to Man block him, or failing to RUN the board.
  • The A-back HAS to get upfield (penetrate) quickly with the Tackle.  The A-back must stay in contact with the Tackle.  The most common mistake that I see our guys make is being late off the ball, standing up, or locking onto the OLB.
  • Teach them to run THRU contact, not TO contact.  Go Fast!
  • The best possible outcome is for the Tackle and A-back to be so fast that they get inside of the DE and OLB.  If that happens then we are definitely going to get yards on the play.
  • On Blood Stunt, have OLB run through the butt of the Tackle with the hand shield.    When placing the DE in a 5 tech, utilize the same coaching point for him (butt of Tackle).  That will make the A-back work to get his shoulders down and go fast.  If both Tackle and A-back can get inside of that C gap charge, then we are going to have success on the play.


This is a MUST DO if you're going to run the Zone Dive play.  Our Inside players (Center, Guards, QB and B-back) are working Zone Dive every day in 3ON3 Drill, so this is where we work it with our Outside players (Tackles, A-backs).  This is normally the only time we'll run this play during practice.  During Half Line or Team period, we're going to work other stuff, so this is the time to get Zone Dive practiced.


Please stay tuned for the next segment on PODS drill, where I discuss how we work the Load Tag for Inside Veer.