Justin Forsett gave a glimpse of how the Seahawks’ zone-blocking scheme should work in Sunday’s “mock game” by showing patience to the hole and then accelerating through it.
So that’s how this zone-blocking thing is supposed to work.
Give the ball to Justin Forsett, give him time to read the blocks being supplied by the offensive linemen and then give him props for accelerating through the proper hole and running hard.
At least that was the situation on Sunday, when the Seahawks held a 65-play “mock game” at Husky Stadium as part of their off-site practice during Bing Training Camp.
Forsett finished with 68 yards – by unofficial count – on 11 carries. He also added another 29 yards on two receptions that were mostly run after the catch. But the biggest thing the little back (5 feet 8, 198 pounds) did was run hard, often turning nothing into something – and something into something even better.
His last run was a 10-yarder, setting up Charlie Whitehurst’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams. But Forsett also had a pair of 9-yard runs and two more for 8 yards each. That’s how you average 6.2 yards per carry.
“You definitely want to get the line moving, and I just find a seam and hit it,” said Forsett, who played in a similar blocking scheme while at Cal.
On a couple of his longer runs, Forsett used a stutter step or even drifted toward the line before hitting the hole.
“It’s definitely not speed to the hole, but speed through the hole,” Forsett said. “So you want to pace it and then hit it.”
With Louis Rankin sitting out, Quinton Ganther getting up woozy after a hit by cornerback Walter Thurmond on his first touch and Leon Washington still limited as he returns from a severely broken right leg that ended his 2009 season, the running game on this afternoon revolved around Forsett and Julius Jones.
“Me and ‘Juice’ had to shoulder the load today because some injuries went down,” Forsett said. “You’ve just got to keep pushing. We got more reps and more opportunities, so it was good for us.”
Especially with the switch this season to the zone-blocking scheme as taught by offensive line coach Alex Gibbs.
“That’s why the reps today were important for me – just to get a feel for it and how it’s going to be in the games,” Forsett said. “Because sometimes I rushed it a little bit getting to the hole. You need that patient before you see the hole and then hit it.”
Jones, the incumbent starter, ran for 28 yards on eight carries – but five of his runs came while working behind the No. 2 line and running into the No. 1 defense; with another while the No. 3 line was on the field. All but one of Forsett’s carries came while running behind the No. 1 line, and against the No. 2 defense.
Coach Pete Carroll liked what he was seeing from the backs even before Sunday’s performance.
“The group has been really impressive,” he said late last week. “They’ve been so consistent. And it doesn’t matter who goes in, we’re getting great effort. All of the critical things about taking care of the football are showing up, our pass-protections rules – and the toughness to make the blocks they have to make – and they can all catch the football.
“So it’s a very strong group. It kind of feels more competitive and probably up a level than we thought it would be coming in. These guys have come in to battle.”
The real battle, of course, shifts to Qwest Field this week. The Seahawks host the Tennessee Titans in their preseason opener on Saturday night.
That’s when the linemen will really be able to cut-block the defenders and Forsett and Jones will be running into a Titans defense that ranked No. 11 in run defense last season – but also allowed the Seahawks to run for 140 yards in the season finale at Qwest.
Breaking into a large smile, Forsett offered, “Can’t wait.”