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Film Study: How OSU Uses the Zone Slice/Zone Bluff in its Running Game

The Cowboys show some wrinkles in their zone running concepts.



Last week, I covered Oklahoma State’s Insert Iso running concept. This week, we continue on with our X’s and O’s breakdown with a look at the running attack, and more specifically: the Zone Slice and Zone Bluff. Before I go into further detail, you can find the other posts in the series below:

• Cowboy Back/Wide Receiver Screen
• Buck Sweep
• Outside Zone
Insert Iso

In my Outside Zone post, along with my post game film studies from last season, we’ve seen what Chuba Hubbard and this Cowboy offensive line can do with zone running plays. As a reminder, the terms inside zone and outside zone refer to blocking schemes that have the offensive linemen blocking specific gaps instead of a certain defender. See the clip below for further explanation.

Something else we saw from the Pokes’ rushing attack in 2019 was the Zone Slice. In this concept, the H-back will move away from the play side, opposite the offensive linemen, and block the defender on the backside. An example of this is shown in the diagram below from


As you can see in the above image, this “slice” block by the H-back allows the offensive tackle (right tackle in the diagram) to move up to the second level and block a linebacker. It also allows the tackle to assist with double team blocks if the defense has a dominating tackle on their side. See the following video for an example of this play.

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the Zone Bluff, which is built off the play above. In this concept, the H-back will bluff the slice block. By “bluff,” I mean he will go around the backside defensive end, who is Sanders’ read on the play below, and take the first defender on the outside. See the diagram below from for further detail.


You’ll see an example of this below, again from the TCU game as the Cowboys show how they build plays off of one another.

The Pokes love to run zone blocking schemes due to how successful they are with a patient, but also explosive, running back like Hubbard. I definitely believe we will continue to see these plays when Kasey Dunn takes over the keys to this offense this upcoming season.

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