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Counting System

"If you can count to 3, you can play offensive line."

The counting system is very important when it comes to running any type of zone play (run or pass). When running a zone play, the counting system tells the offensive line who they are suppose to block and the covered/uncovered system tells them how they are suppose to block. The counting system ensures that every defender is accounted for in the blocking scheme. When adding the counting system to a zone system, it really only puts a burden on the Center to recognize and call out #0. It is very important for the center to be a smart leader because he is setting the blocking schemes on majority of the plays. The rest of the blockers (offensive line and tight-ends) only have to count out from #0.

How the Counting System Works?

The counting system is very simple. First, the center has to identify and block #0. Everyone else just counts out from #0 and blocks their man. The guards will have the first guy outside of the center's guy (#1), the tackles will have the second guy outside of the center's guy (#2), and the tight-ends will have the third guy outside of the center's guy (#3). #4 can be accounted for in several different ways, like push-cracking with the wide receivers, aligning an extra tight-end to the play side, etc.

Man Blocking Rules

Center - Identify and Block #0 Guards - Block #1 Tackles - Block #2 Tight-ends - Block #3

Here is a basic example with a balanced 2 tight-end set against a 34 Odd front.

Counting Stacks
When counting stacked defenders (a linebacker right behind a down defender), the down defender gets counted first. Here are some examples counting to the right.

Identifying #0
As mentioned earlier, the center's job is to identify and block #0. Generally speaking, #0 is going to be a defender in the "Center Box" responsible for the play side A Gap. If there is no one is the "Center Box", #0 is going to be the first down lineman to the play side. (In the examples below, the linemen will be zoning to the right.)

Real Life Examples

Zoning Left vs. 43 Over

Zoning Right vs. 43 Over

Zone Left vs. 34 Bear (Stack between the MLB and the NG)

Zone Right vs. 34 Bear (Stack between the MLB and the NG)

Zone Right vs. 35 Under (Out Numbered: Check Opposite or Motion Extra Blocker)

Zone Left vs. 35 Under