Updated: Sep 15
On Saturday night, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Florida Gators behind a stellar defensive effort and an offense that was aided by an improved output from the offensive line.
One of the reasons why Kentucky's offense picked up the pace in the second half was a halftime adjustment that I believe offensive line coach Zach Yenser made. For most of the game against Miami (OH), the offensive line was using outside zone blocking schemes. With new starters and some inexperienced players, Miami made some plays that they should not have been able to make using twists and stunts, which I discussed in an earlier article.
This week, Coach Yenser shuffled his line and started the "best five" linemen against the Gators. The initial results were mediocre, aside from them allowing Will Levis to throw a beautiful ball to Dane Key, which was made with a man in Levis' face. However, the adjustment that was made at halftime provided an answer, though not immediately. I believe that Coach Yenser went from straight 'outside zone' to a 'pin and pull' blocking scheme. For those of you who may not know, I'll explain what I mean by 'pin and pull.'
One of the main advantages of the pin and pull blocking method is that it relies on leverage and angles to clear a path for the runner to the outside. This method is unlike the outside zone scheme. In outside zone, the line is trying to overtake their defender and get them 'hooked,' but the pin and pull puts linemen in a position where they already have leverage on the man that they are blocking. This method allows an offensive lineman to have success against a defender who may be more athletic than he is. A simple way to look at pin and pull is this:
If the lineman is uncovered, he pulls play-side.
A down block is used to fill in the hole created by the pulling lineman, typically in the back-side gap, which will tend to be an easier leverage block.
The running back follows the pulling lineman, which adds downfield blocking support.
A down block is often a higher percentage block to out leverage a defender.
Using a pulling offensive lineman gives a better angle to block linebackers coming downhill.
It allows the backside lineman to get involved in the play. They are normally "hingeing" or trying to get to the second level.
These subtle changes that I noticed by Coach Yenser helped Kentucky overcome the lack of cohesion between the starters and let them use their athletic abilities to completely open up the running game in the second half. While we did not run for a huge chunk of yards, I believe that we would have seen a bigger day for the running backs had we been using this scheme from the start.
It will be interesting to see what we use going into the Youngstown State and Northern Illinois games. What scheme we decide to use in those games will likely preview the direction we go for the rest of season.