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Inside the Playbook: Blocking Power O

Blocking isn't as simple as lining up and hitting people. It's also not enough to have good strength or good technique. OL need to be the smartest guys on the field because they need to know the calls they need to make to adjust to every single run play. That means they must truly understand not just the play call, but the theory behind the run. In this post, we look at the different calls the OL will make for various defensive fronts.

Jonathan Daniel

Last time we went over a brief primer to discuss some of the possible blocking calls that will be made during a Power O run. This time we are going to focus I specific examples of how an offensive line will adjust and make various block calls to face any defense.

Power O Basics



Block CB vs hang/engage/bump

Block most dangerous safety vs retreat

Potentially crack vs 8 man front

Block inside out on CB

Block gap. Possible EAT with FST

May have to veer block with FST

May need to chip or cram EMOL first

Block heads up or inside; unless FSG calls you down.

Possible EAT or TAG call

Don't allow penetration or push to force BSG off track

Keep eyes inside to BSLB


Block heads up or inside; unless CTR calls you down

Possible TAG or CAGE call

Don't allow penetration or push to force BSG off track

Keep eyes inside to BSLB


On or first DL away.

Possible CAGE to backside

BSG Pull and lead through off-tackle hole. Block first defender to show from inside out Keep tight to LOS. Rip through first step and keep low and go straight down line. Turn up first opening past PST
BST Seal inside. Blunt inside out.
BWR Go for deep safety. If can't get him come back down to CB
QB Reverse 6 O'Clock. Boot away Check out of play if 5 on play side (or run to Open)
FB Step up and arc out. Kick out EMOL. Play inside out. Aiming point outside leg of PST
RB Drop step for outside leg of tackle. Get on BSG's outside hip and press the hole. Square shoulders and get north/south quick.


Rather than writing a lot, how about we look at diagrams.


Notice here that you actually have to doubles going to MIKE. If the CAGE double can't get to MIKE they will move on to the next off color jersey for a block. The MIKE doesn't need to be double teamed. SAM is the pulling BSG target. TE doubles with OT and must look to get push before releasing to the next level. Any penetration or push from that defender will get the BSG off track and ruin the timing of the play. In this instance, with two guys backside, look for the BST to attack inside rather than simply wall off the backside as to make sure to block the most dangerous player.


Typically "Kick" isn't the call here, but that's basically what the TE is calling. He's telling the PST that he won't be helping him and is instead going straight to his target in the second level. Because the TE is releasing so quickly, it would potentially allow the DE to pinch quickly, closing the hole, so it's likely the TE will chip in this case before releasing to the LB. On the backside, the BST is simply walling off any defender trying to scrape down the line to make a play.


BST must chip the DT where the pulling BSG vacates before fanning out, making sure that defender can't get penetration and beat the CTR upfield and scrape back.


PSDE lines up inside, so TE must single block him and let the OT know he is doing so, especially since the PST is doubling and getting to the LB level. The TE must seal inside so that the RB can kick this outside. The FB, once he must realize the LB is stacked. If the LB crashes down he will kick out as usual. If the LB is still at LB depth he will turn up and kick him inside, giving the RB the outside.


In an effort to take away power, the defense might line up their DT in a 4-tech where he is harder to root out of the hole and makes the hole for the RB skinnier. TE must help to uproot 4-tech before getting to the next level, must open the hole and then seal the LB inside.


Defense now walks down an 8th defender. Backside LB is left unblocked though, because he is very little threat to the success of the play. Usually the walked up defender will have outside responsibility, so DE moves heads up on the TE. The TE will seal him inside and the FB will attack the SS.


Moving the NT into a 0-tech makes the combo block a little more difficult, but has little change from the 4-4 above overall as far as running Power O is concerned.


4-4 Over 4 above. Much like the 4-3 over 4, it will be used to stop power. Likely you'd like to check out here, as the SS is left unblocked. But if it's a short yardage situation, you can still run it and trust your RB to get the best of the SS in the hole.


Switching to and Under front here. TE and PST will combo to the LB.


Shifting the DT to a 1-tech might help against an Iso run, but really doesn't help against Power.


The Loose call leaves the LB stacked. The TE will make a call indicating such. Likely, you'd hope the QB would let the FB know so he knows the situation.


This makes it a little harder because you now have a couple guys you need to root out or at least prevent penetration. So there is room with this defense to disrupt Power. But it can still be blocked.




Now we get to the Bear defense and you see why it is so difficult to run against. No one is combo blocking, so it is difficult to get a decent to good push everywhere on the line and not disrupt the pulling guard. It also means there is a free tackler that can scrape across and make a play. This is why you don't run against a Bear.

But what if the defense blitzes? How does the OL make a call for that? Well, unless the defense tips their hand presnap, they can't. They must also be able to adjust on the fly, understanding their assignment so that they can be successful in these cases as well.



Note the DE is lined up inside initially, so the TE takes him here and the FB gets to the second level.

Different formation, but essentially Power nonetheless. FB kicks out the EMOL and OG pulls up and in. Having and extra blocker gives Denard and an extra lead blocker at the point of attack in the form of another RB.

And here's a look at Open Power O

Not the FB will have a different angle, and some of the calls and techniques change a little, but you see a lot of the same philosophy here as you do with a Closed Power O.


If you want, you can change up personnel, make a DT a DE and a DE a OLB, and see pretty much most 3-4 formations above as well. Against 3-3-5 teams and 4-2-5 teams it will depend on how the box safeties align, but you can at least envision how the blocking will go down from above. The crazy thing is that this is the assignments, with fairly clear rules but still quite daunting, that ever O-linemen must know for every single run play. If they don't know how to block a front then you have a wasted play, which you can't afford to absolutely throw away a play. There are certainly defenses above that a better designed to defeat Power, ones that will be more difficult for the offense to successfully block, but with execution and the correct reads, the team can be put in a position to successfully run the ball at any time.