One Simple RPO for Inside Zone Read

Inside Zone Read Slip

If inside zone read is your bread and butter in the run game and you want implement a simple RPO for this scheme, then “slip” is the perfect answer for attacking the defense in the run and the pass. This concept makes it extremely difficult for a defense to defend because of the physical downhill running that’s paired with the horizontal stretch in the pass.

Unlike most RPO’s where all defensive linemen will be blocked and the QB will read a 2nd level defender (LB’s or Overhangs), inside zone read slip is a 1st level read. The QB will read the backside DE or the EMOL depending on the front the offense sees. The read for the QB is the same as if he was running inside zone read with no pass option. At the mesh point, if the EMOL chases the back, then the QB will rip and run-to-throw to his TE or WR running to the flat. If the EMOL sits on the LOS, then the QB will give to the back for inside zone.

Let’s take a look at the basic way to attack the defense with this RPO concept:

RPO for inside zone read

A lot of teams are using this concept with their Tight End or H back from the sniffer position.

X / AStalk block Corner and $. If for sure man, X can run his defender off and A can get vertical and look inside for LB or S flowing inside out
YAt the snap, the Y will work back behind the O-Line and avoid the DE/EMOL to slip into the flat. If EMOL gets upfield then slip on top to the flat, if the EMOL sits on the LOS then slip underneath.
QRead the EMOL. If the EMOL sits on the LOS then give to the back for inside zone. If the EMOL chases the back, then rip and run to throw to the TE in the flat.
TRun inside zone to the right

This concept can be used with an athletic QB or with one who is more of a pocket passer. If your QB is athletic and you like to use him in the run game, then the coaching point should be to have him run to throw into the flat. This is because you can evolve this concept into triple option by leaving the overhang ($) unblocked and having the QB read the 2nd level. If your QB is more of a tradition pocket passer then he can quick set his feet and throw the ball into the flat after he reads the EMOL.

Variations of Inside Zone Read Slip

Here are a few different ways you can run this concept. You don’t always have to slip your Tight End into the flat. In the play below, Oregon attacks the defense with the same concept but they present it differently. They formation Washington State’s man coverage into the boundary with their two Tight Ends on the ball with a single WR. This sets the defense to line up away from the point of attack as Oregon motions the boundary receiver to the field to slip into the flat off the inside zone read. Here’s how it’s drawn up along with a clip of the play:

In this 4th & 2, most defenses are going to expect the offense to run the ball up the middle and out muscle the defense for the first down. Unfortunately, offenses are also thinking the same thing which is why these short yardage plays can go either way. Oregon shows us that they are playing chess and not checkers by thinking one step ahead of the defense and attacking space rather than bodies.

*Disclaimer* Washington State was in position to make this play with two players off the edge. WSU’s #1 couldn’t handle the moving parts in his direction and got caught in the middle.

Here’s another look of Oregon using their formation to the field against WSU’s man coverage. By doing so, they are taking numbers away from the box and away from the point of attack. This is a creative way to run the slip RPO concept because the Tight End can get lost since he’s attached and appears to be blocking. Check out below how the play is designed and how Oregon executed it.

What Can Make Inside Zone Read Slip Successful?

One of the keys to successfully running inside zone read slip is setting this play up with split zone action. Split zone and the Slip RPO look exactly the same besides the small differences of TE kicking out EMOL (C gap defender) and the TE avoiding EMOL to slip into the flat. The reason why split zone can set up the slip RPO nicely is because the EMOL is anticipating the kick out block. Split zone forces the DE to set the edge and take on the block, and typically they squeeze down the LOS to do just that.

The Slip RPO goes against the EMOL’s instincts to squeeze down the line of scrimmage and take on what they think is the “kick out” block by the Tight End. This gives the read for the QB to rip and run to get to the edge before throwing the ball to the TE into the flat. Oregon has had great success in the past two weeks with this RPO concept because of the constant attack of inside zone read with split flow.

Mini Breakdown of Inside Zone Read Slip RPO

Click the play button to watch the mini break down of the slip RPO concept:

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