Monday, March 14, 2011

Midline



Midline, is probably my favorite power play in all of football.  It combines the power running game of the I formation and the option reads associated with triple option offenses.  Midline can frustrate even the best defensive coaches and teams.  Midline gives the option offense the "in your face" right at you power offense that some option offenses seem to lack.  If you already run the triple option, then midline is a must in your offense. 



The Basics


Midline has many variations (as we'll see) but in a nutshell, it is an option play that hits in either the A gap or the B gap of the defense.  The quarterback (QB) will read the first down lineman from the A gap out as the handoff key (HOK).  The QB will give the ball to the fullback (FB) every time unless the HOK comes down to take the FB.  If the HOK does take the FB, then the QB will replace the HOK and run the ball into the B gap.  The aiming point for the FB is the "brown spot" (use your imagination fellas) of the center.  If he gets the football he should be taught to "bend" the ball back in behind the HOK.  If the play results in a pull read, he is to absorb the HOK as he runs his dive course.  The perimeter blocking is where the bulk of the variations lie with the Midline play, however Midline may be run as both a double and a triple option.

The blocking for the offensive line is very simple, and here is an excerpt from an option playbook on how the offensive line should block the play:
  • Playside Tackle (PST)- On to the outside (don't allow defender to cross face).
  • Playside Guard (PSG)- Inside gap, Ace to backside linebacker (LB).
  • Center- On, backside gap, Over.
  • Backside Guard (BSG)- Scoop (Inside gap to backside LB).
  • Backside Tackle (BST)- Hinge, protect B gap run-through.
video


The Many Faces of Midline

For me, midline was not just one play, but one play with tons of variations.  I'm going to elaborate on the many variations to one of the greatest plays in all of football.

Midline Blast

The blast play is often times referred to as the midline lead play.  This is option football and power football meshed into one.  On the blast play, the reads for the QB and the path for the FB are unaltered.  The perimeter blocking for this play is what is key.  Both slots will insert themselves into the B gap.  The backside slot back (BSSB) will go into "tail" motion and will lead through the B gap, and is taught to block the outside 1/2 of the B gap, or the B gap to the outside (however you prefer to teach it).  The playside slot back (PSSB) will insert or fold into the B gap, and will block the inside 1/2 of the B gap.  The blast play is a great short yardage play and is also very effective on the goalline.  This is the first midline play I install in my Flexbone offense.



Midline Blast




Midline Seal

Many defenses have their LB's key the slot back's movements and react accordingly (you can go here and here to learn more about how the 4-3 defense does this very thing).  This can really make running the blast play, mentioned above, very trying for the offense.  So what is the offense to do?  Give the LB's false keys!  All the rules for blocking are the exact same except for the slot backs'.  The BSSB, will still tail motion and insert into the B gap, however he has the entire B gap to himself.  The PSSB will, instead of folding, load, or seal block the playside LB.  This keeps the playside LB from being able to collapse down inside and clog up any inside running lanes.  The Midline Seal is a very simple and easy addition to the Midline run game.


Midline Seal/Load



Midline Fold

The fold play is another variation of the Midline that plays on the keys and reads of the LB's and secondary.  Some secondaries will have their safeties cross key the slots, and when they see a slot insert, the safety will also insert himself into the inside run gap.  With the Fold play, the PSSB will fold or insert into the B gap, blocking the first threat to show in the B gap.  The BSSB is simply a decoy, he will go into tail motion and on the snap will simply run the pitch course, thereby drawing the safety outside and away from where the ball is being run.  This is a great compliment if you run a lot of midline triple option (or as some call it mid-veer).  This is also a great play to run with "twirl" motion to counteract any defenses that like to jump the motion associated with the Flexbone offense.  Again, as you can clearly see, the Fold play is an easy addition to your Midline arsenal, by simply changing a few rules, you can really distort a defense's reads and keys.




Midline Fold

Midline Triple

The Midline Triple Option, or mid-veer as some refer to it, is one of the hardest plays in all of football to defend.  This is a great play against odd front defenses that choose to use the Double Eagle, or Double 4I look to take away the Inside Veer (ISV) play.  Mid-veer is so quick, it's perimeter component resembles that of the Rocket Toss play.  Here are the rules for the Mid-Veer:
  • PST: Playside LB to near safety (easiest release veer or loop).
  • PSG: Inside gap, playside LB, backside LB to safety.
  • C: On, backside gap, backside LB.
  • BSG: playside gap, on, over.
  • BST: "Smart scoop".
  • PSWR: Stalk block.
  • PSSB: Arc block #3 in the count.
  • BSWR: Cut-off block
  • BSSB: No motion, run pitch course be ready for quick pitch.
  • FB: Midline path, run through playside cheek of center. If the ball is given, get in behind the HOK. If
    there is an auto-disconnect, lead up and block the near LB.
  • QB: Step away at 1/11 o'clock with first step. Read the first down lineman from the A gap out for the
  • handoff key. Give the ball every time unless the HOK takes the B back. If you get a pull read read the
    PK whether to keep or pitch it. More than likely this will be a pitch. If PK on the LOS read PK through HOK and be ready to disconnect and pitch immediately.
As a side note, the term "smart scoop" is a term used by some Flexbone teams which simply tells the backside tackle to protect the B gap with zone blocking instead of hinge blocking.


Mid-veer



My favorite part of Mid-veer is that there is no motion.  This is an even better play when run with twirl motion, as you can catch the defense rotating in the opposite direction from where you plan on running a triple option play! 

The drawbacks to the Mid-veer are that the pull-n-pitch by the QB can be instantaneous.  This can be a quick, and very tough read.  The Mid-veer is a high risk, high reward play, that if executed properly, can lead to some big gains for the offense. 

So, there you have it!  Midline is not only one of the best plays in all of football, with a few tweaks it can also be one of the most versatile plays in all of football.  If you are only running one version of the midline, you are sorely missing out on some grand opportunities at one of the most versatile plays in all of football!

Duece