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The Complete Guide to the Power Play

Posted by AJ Forbes on

If you ask enough offensive line coaches what their favorite run play is, there's a good chance that most of them will say the power play.

There aren’t many plays that match the brute force that Power offers. If you have an Offensive Line coach, expect him to call for Power every drive. If you’re that Offensive Line coach, continue to fight the good fight. 

What is the Power Play?

Power is a gap run play that consists of a backside guard pulling, getting his hat on a linebacker while there is a kick out block and multiple “back” blocks to create angles for the offense at the point of attack.

What is the Power Play?

It’s a scheme that can be ran from an almost endless amount of personnel groups and formations. No matter what offensive scheme a team runs, there's a good chance they have some version of power in their offensive playbook.

Let's talk about why.

What are the Strengths of the Power Play?

The biggest strength of the power play is that it allows the offense to create angles and double teams right where the running back should be going, outnumbering the defense.

This allows somewhat smaller or less physically-imposing offensive lines to be able to run the play effectively if they can master the leverage and angles needed for the blocks.

The goal of Power is to get as many blockers to the point of attack as possible. There’s a double team, a kick out, and a pulling Guard all concentrating within a gap of each other. With the amount of bodies attempting to boar out defenders, it’s almost difficult not to gain yardage calling Power. 

There is also a certain level of flexibility when running Power. As far as the double teams go, they can be taught as vertical or horizontal combinations. Vertical combinations, where the angle of the double team is more perpendicular to the line of scrimmage, are beneficial for powerful Offensive Lines. Horizontal combinations, where the angle of the double team is more parallel to the line of scrimmage, are beneficial for under-sized Offensive Lines. 

What are the Weaknesses of the Power Play?

Power's biggest weakness is backside pursuit and penetration from the defense, especially through the open gap where the pulling guard comes from.

Against an even front, there is a moment after the Tackle takes his initial inside step prior to the hinge where the backside edge defender can turn the corner. If the Tackle is unable to at least get a piece of that defender, there is a chance that he can make the play behind the line of scrimmage.

This weakness is even more relevant when looking at running Power against an odd front. The Center is responsible for making the proper “point call”, which identifies the first linebacker in the blocking scheme. If the Center doesn’t identify a backside linebacker on or near the line of scrimmage, the backside Tackle will bury in the B-gap, the Center will double the Nose Tackle instead of performing a back block, and leave a free backside rusher. 

Power Play vs 3-4 Odd Front

Power Play vs 3-4 Defense

This is a very common way to block the power play against the 3-4 defense.

LT - Initially responsible for B-gap penetration. Guide the B-gap defender down to the Center as he comes down on his back block, then hinge to cut off the C-gap defender

LG - Skip-pull around the RT-Tight Tend double team and make inside-out contact on the playside Inside Linebacker with near foot and near shoulder. “Pull right hit right, pull left hit left”. 

C - Back block on the B-gap defender as the RT guides him down the line of scrimmage

RG - Down block on the Nose Tackle with a near-shoulder aiming point

RT - Combination block on the 4-tech with the Tight End to the backside Inside Linebacker. Can be a horizontal or vertical double team depending on preference

TE - Combination block on the 4-tech with the RT to the backside Inside Linebacker. Most likely the player that climbs to the linebacker with a near-shoulder aiming point

FB - Kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage, establishing inside-out leverage

TB - Take a drop step with the right foot, then immediately get downhill. After receiving the hand-off, stay on the inside hip of the pulling Guard and find a crease

QB - Reverse pivot after the snap and extend the ball with the left hand for the hand-off

X Receiver - Push for the near Safety

Z Receiver - Push for the near Safety

Power Play vs 4-3 Even Front

Power Play vs 4-3 Defense

This is a common way to block the power play vs a 4-3 defense, however there are many coaches who prefer to switch the block of the tight end and the fullback depending on the players they have at each position.

LT - Step down to ensure B-gap integrity, then hinge back out to the backside edge defender

LG - Skip-pull around the RG-RT double team and make inside-out contact on the playside Inside Linebacker with near foot and near shoulder. “Pull right hit right, pull left hit left”. 

C - Back block on the Nose Tackle

RG - Combination block with the RT on the Defensive Tackle to the left Outside Linebacker. Can be a horizontal or vertical double team depending on preference
RT - Combination block with the RG on the Defensive Tackle to the left Outside Linebacker. Most likely going to climb and block the linebacker while targeting the near shoulder

TE - Climb through the C-gap bubble to the right Outside Linebacker while targeting the far shoulder

FB - Kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage, establishing inside-out leverage

TB - Take a drop step with the right foot, then immediately get downhill. After receiving the hand-off, stay on the inside hip of the pulling Guard and find a crease

QB - Reverse pivot after the snap and extend the ball with the left hand for the hand-off

X Receiver - Push for the near Safety

Z Receiver - Push for the near Safety

Power Play Variations

Variation 1: Diamond Fullhouse

Diamond Full House Formation Power

When looking at a fullhouse Power, the variance comes with the responsibilities of the F and the U. While the blocking up front remains unchanged, the F arcs to the perimeter to occupy the overhang defender. This can influence the playside edge defender to widen for the U who is coming across the formation to perform the kickout. 

Variation 2: Gun Same-Side Power RPO

Shotgun Same Side Power RPO

Power doesn’t always have to be run from an under-center, 21-personnel formation. In the day and age of the RPO, the more “modern” offenses can have just as much success running Power.

There’s still a playside double team and a pulling Guard, but the Tight End has a 1-on-1 block on the end man on the line of scrimmage. As a 1-back Power, the QB has to make the play-caller right by throwing the RPO if the box count isn’t advantageous. Depending on teaching, the QB can throw a pre-snap bubble to the slot or a post-snap slant to the Z if the playside Safety starts flying downhill.

Want more?

Check out our collection of videos on the football run game HERE.