Because inside zone targets the interior DL and LBs, defenses will start to overreact to it after a few times of being gashed in the middle. Once Riley and Langsdorf see this happening, they mix it up with outside zone (“OZ”). OZ is also known as the “stretch” play. Unlike the vertically hitting inside zone play, OZ is about horizontal displacement: move the defensive line and linebackers toward the sideline and make them maintain their gap integrity. Once a hole opens up in their front, stick your foot in the ground and get vertical. This type of blocking isn’t new to Nebraska; Osborne and Tenopir frequently blocked their option runs with it, and of course Bill Callahan loved that god damn stretch play against USC.
Nebraska runs a couple of different versions of OZ depending on the game plan for the week and the fronts they see from the defense. In this post, let’s look at two of them: (1) standard OZ; and (2) the Pin and Pull.