Bumped. We are so glad football is back so we can read analysis like this. - BN Eds.
Hey everyone, I'm happy to have enough time, finally, to get back to some good 'ol, leisure writing for my favorite UCLA website, Bruins Nation. Let's get right to it:
I've had a really fun offseason, doing a lot of research as I've watched countless hours of film crouched over my computer trying to understand a few key concepts that are being misinterpreted all over the place.
The modern option concept has been mediocrely covered by ESPN ever since Pat White and company busted it out in Morgan Town, and you'll frequently see Desmond Howard walking around in the virtual playbook demonstrating the basics of the play. They don't even dare to talk about some internal concepts there, but they do get the first of many key concepts right. Georgia Tech's veer has been around for about a century longer, but ESPN won't even dare to start talking about that concept.
But ESPN is ESPN, so forget about Brent Musburger and the rest of the sock puppets getting it wrong, but countless other solid analysts are mixing up two plays: the Veer and the zone read.
The Veer is an old concept with a handful of purists running it today, and another few teams are running renovated versions, now known as the Pistol. One of those renovated teams includes UCLA.
A purist view of the veer is shown here:
The original veer is a triple option where the QB is optioning not one, like many modern option teams do, but two players on the defensive line.
Here is a flow of the QB's mindset:
The first read is the D-Tackle: he crashes, I keep. He stays home, I give.
The second read is the D-End: he crashes, I pitch. He stays home, I turn up field.
Notice the blocking as well, the center and guard double team the nose, and the guard will eventually look to the backside linebacker. Since the play side defensive linemen are being read, the tackle is free to go up to the next level to block the play side backer.
The original veer is very fast, only relying on one key block to open up the play, but isn't necessarily the most flashy play in the world, and will realistically look to get 3 yards on every play. Keep those qualities in mind as we move on.
The Pistol's Veer is similar, but only relies on one read:
In a simplified version, here is the QB's flow:
The end crashes, I keep. The end stays home, I give.
The blocking is similar to the original veer, with the strong side "veering" down to create double-team mismatches across the defensive line.
That being said, the pistol veer is a slower developing play, as the offense has to wait for two blocks, and then the running back, and then the QB's sweeping option. It is a Power play. It is all about getting behind your blockers and shoving forward, or getting to the outside with your QB and hope you get a few yards here and there with that option.
Even if a mobile QB was getting the ball in this offense, they shouldn't be aiming for huge gains, they should try to play possession football, and let the play run its course to open up some play action passes, screens, etc. It's all about series play.
Now that you know what a Pistol Veer is, we can start identifying the differences between the Inside Zone and the Pistol Veer.
Now the outside zone/inside zone identification process is really easy to see, harder to explain on paper. If you want to know the true schematics behind the inside zone play, you can check out this pdf from Chip Kelly's coaching clinic just let me know in the comments below, and I'll spell it out for you, but for now, we'll just look at video.
Oregon Inside Zone (via swschlick1)
Notice how vertical, and physical this play is. Oregon hangs their hat on this play, and it isn't supposed to bust huge runs, but LaMichael James can bust those plays. It accomplishes the same thing as the Veer, forcing the defense to bring in another defender, and focus in on the run, setting up the pass. One difference between the two though is rather obvious:
The veer is a play side read, and the zone play has a backside read.
Veer (PLAY SIDE):
Outside (NOT INSIDE) Zone (BACKSIDE):
Which brings me to another point, you don't "zone read" a defender. You "read" a defender. The zone play is a pro Concept, and instead of using the QB/Fullback to block the "last defender," he reads him. The veer reads the "last defender" as well, instead of blocking him with a fullback.
Anyways, the Veer is not a zone play, simply because it reads a play side defender. The blocking is a whole different story.
The Veer play uses down blocks, while the Zone play uses zone blocks. Down in the sense that linemen are double teaming down to the center.
Zone blocking is about identifying gaps, simply put, if there is a defender lined up over a lineman, that lineman tries to get to the second level. If the lineman is uncovered, he blocks the defender in the play side gap next to him.
These explanations are super, super basic, and aren't properly servicing the true intricacies of the respective concepts. Since the inside zone and outside zone plays don't really apply to UCLA, I'll save you the headache of trying to understand me.
So again, UCLA's butter play, the veer, is not, and will never be a zone "read." It is a veer, a play side read.
But identification is only part of the puzzle. Remember when I told you to remember the purpose of the original veer, pistol veer, and the inside zone play? Well, here's where it all comes together.
All three concepts accomplish the same thing, in very different fashions. That "thing" is a bread and butter, hang your hat on kind, play. Three yards when you need it, know-how-to-run-against-any-front, kind of play. Many Bruin fans were frustrated when Brehaut wasn't getting 10 yards a carry with this play, when what they should have been worried about was getting 3 yards every, single, time that they ran this play in the correct situations, with the correct advantages.
Chow called this play at the wrong time more often than not, let alone this being a fumble-prone play. If UCLA wants to open up their offense, this, in extension with the rest of their rushing concepts, is where they will need to start.