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Film Study: OSU’s Insert Iso

The Cowboys have found continued success with this wrinkle in their zone running sheme.



Last week, I took a look at the H-Counter and how Oklahoma State successfully utilized this play in 2019. I’ll keep it on the ground for this installment as well, as I dive into a type of “Insert Zone” play the Cowboys like to run. 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

The specific play I’m going to cover this week popped up several times throughout the season, but specifically against Gary Patterson’s TCU defense. The diagram I created below explains the play in more detail, but it starts out as a zone blocking scheme with the right tackle blocking out on the defensive end.

As a refresher, the terms Inside Zone (IZ) and Outside Zone (OZ) refer to blocking schemes that have the offensive linemen blocking specific gaps instead of a certain defender. If an O-lineman has a defender lined up in front of him, he blocks him. If he doesn’t, then he steps toward the play side and either helps double-team a defender or moves to the second level.

The next key component of this play is the H-Back, or Cowboy Back, inserting into the B Gap, between the right guard and right tackle, to perform an isolation block on the linebacker.


Here’s what a more typical type of inside zone out of the shotgun looks like, as you can see the Cowboy Back is now lined up on the line of scrimmage in a tight end position.


Adding in the H-Back isolation block allows the Pokes to attack the defense from a different angle and possibly catch them over committing one way or another. Below you’ll see a specific example from last season’s matchup with the Horned Frogs.

As I mentioned above, the Cowboys like to run this concept against TCU. In the tweet below you’ll see Dan Casey, the head coach at St. David’s School, break down a similar from the 2017 season.

Along with giving the defense a different look, this blocking scheme also allows for some pass protection on the backside with the right tackle blocking out on the end. In turn, that opens the door for RPOs like the one shown below, again from last from 2017.

This concept has been in OSU’s offensive playbook for a while now, so I definitely believe we will see current offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn dial it up again in the near future.



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