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Alex Mirabal Offensive Run Game Clinic

Coach Mirabal has experience at the high school and college ranks. He’s a teacher-first type of coach that make things easy to understand.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Cal at Oregon Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes have a new offensive line coach, and that’s former Oregon Ducks assistant Alex Mirabal. Mirabal has coached for decades at the high school and collegiate ranks, including at FIU and in the South Florida HS scene.

Above- During the pandemic, All-22 Breakdown sat down with Coach Mirabal in a Zoom clinic to discuss the Oregon Run Game. As a shotgun and pistol offense, the Ducks utilized a number of plays including wide zone, the focus of this clinic.

Wide Zone

A staple of the Oregon run game under Mario Cristobal was “wide zone.” The running back’s aiming point is the butt of the ‘ghost’ tight end, meaning if there is a TE he runs to his ass, if there isn’t he pretends there’s a guy there in the gap creating a D-gap.

For a covered OL, the coaching points are:

1- Backside knee through crotch of DL

2- Back side hand through sternum

3- Landmark is the play side armpit of the defender

The uncovered Center, the coaching points are called a “three-step decision.”

1- Take it over.

2- Knock it over.

3- Climb (to the 2nd level).

Above- As Mirabal points out, in this clip, the right tackle doesn’t get his hat to the play side armpit.

Above- Since he can’t, as the future NFL defensive end is setting the edge well, the OT will just drive and force the DE outside so the RB can cut inside of his ass.

Practice drills

Above- Florida Atlantic’s strength and conditioning coach, Joey Guarascio, breaks down the capacities and skills progression. Blocking drills would be specific skills. The drill that’s used below will be a closed-drill that isn’t really developing the OODA Loop as much as refining some skills and techniques that are considered fundamentals of the position group.

Above- Oregon is working against defenders holding medicine balls. they’re repping the very basic tenants of wide zone- backside knee through crotch, hand through sternum.

Above- Something that leaves me with a little pause for the cause is that Oregon’s O-Line reps these drills really erect and upright. There isn’t a lot of hip bend here for their OL. It also feels like a passive drill. If your training partner isn’t fighting back what’s this worth?

Above- The RT here has his feet really close together which can result in making the OL an easy target for a bull rush or a push-pull.

Above- The RG has to get really wide, and push down on the defensive tackle. The entire Oregon OL plays very high. I’m probably obsessing about “tall” play because of an upbringing in the 90’s and early 2000’s where “pad level” was everything for OL.

Above- This rep looks fantastic. It’s around the 35 minute mark. I’m not making GIF’s because Mirabal loves the 90’s coach thing of giving me vertigo with the cowboy clicker.

Above- The Oregon OL would be considered “tall” here but they’re a powerful bunch. They look like beefed up power forwards instead of really fat soccer goalies auditioning for “The Big Green.”

Above- Players definitely play how they practice. You can see they’re playing tall and that center is getting worked. The TE is working to the DE. The RG is working to the LB and actually has a really good base compared to the center and TE.

Above- The Oregon OL is playing lower here and Penei Sewell shows why he’s a top-rated NFL rookie in ‘21. The guy can do things that others can’t get away with. He has elite athleticism that allows him to lunge a bit here, but overcome it and dominate a linebacker. He was playing okay at LT for the Lions but has developed into a Pro Bowl RT, all in Year One.

Above- The Indy period that corresponds to Sewell’s block. The OL are working wide zone 2x2 blocks. The left OL works on his ‘3 step decision’ while his buddy pretends to be a linebacker. Every OL’s dream was the run the football, mine was to be a fullback slash linebacker.

Above- Much better hip depth and width here from the OL. Good balance and posture to work to the 2nd level or dominate your 1st level blocks.

The Wrap

I like Coach Mirabal’s attention to detail, and his enthusiasm. This new staff has been together, they’re comfortable with each other, and they know each other. If Jim Mastro is coming he’s the RB coach best capable of installing the pistol alignment to the offense.

I’m not entirely sure who the offensive coordinator hire will be, hell, I don’t even have many leads at this point. The one thing I do know is that Mario Cristobal seems hell bent to make sure he knows and trusts the guys around Greentree, and that means something.