X&O Labs' Coaching Research Report #110402

Midline/Midline Triple Vs. The Odd Stack
By Mike Kuchar Senior Research Manager X&O Labs mikek@xandolabs.com It's official. We've begun our journey into the hallowed halls of football by presenting the first of what will be many reports on the double/triple option series. We've always had a great deal of respect for the true option scheme. We feel like it is the cornerstone or foundation of all football concepts that have derived since. Think about it. Where would Urban Meyer be without the triple option? Would Rich Rodriquez still be at Glenville State? Many of these spread coaches developed their schemes off the structure of the midline or veer option where you read off one defender and pitch off another. What we also respect is the camaraderie of the coaches that teach this scheme. Similar to the Wing T, these guys are a clan; a gang of football purists who travel the country and preach the world of the triple. You can find them everywhere, but once a year they gather at the Mecca of option football - Annapolis, Maryland - to watch The Naval Academy work through spring drills. When X&O Labs started to piece together this report, we decided to focus on one specific area to research and study. Anytime you explore a topic that is close to 100 years old, you will find pages and pages of information and some terrific coaches who will tell you everything you want to know. But as we started to unravel all of this information, one common thread kept appearing...many coaches (even the veterans) wanted to know the best ways to run their midline schemes against an odd stack or 3-3-5 defense. It seemed the odd stack presented some concerns offensively against double or triple option schemes. Get X&O Labs' Coaching Research Reports Every Tuesday - FREE! Click Here. For clarification purposes, the midline option is presented in two distinct ways in this report:  Midline Option: This is the true double option play where either the B-back (fullback) or QB will carry the ball. This is the traditional midline scheme.  Midline Triple: This is the midline triple option scheme where a QB will give the ball to the

it's difficult to get the play side guard to climb to him. these players can often change postsnap with movement. Researcher's Note: Because these two schemes are so similar in nature.which the majority. even though over 40 percent of coaches surveyed say the ball gets pitched on midline triple LESS THAN 25 percent of the time. that's where option football comes in . the odd stack provides a plethora of blitzes and pressures designed to destruct option football. Readily Available Twists and Pressures: By nature. But our research has found that most teams who shift to an odd front will usually slant their nose in either direction . he gives. Well. he pulls. etc. Problems an Odd Stack presents to midline option: 1. A Dominant Nose Guard: Chances are defenses wouldn't be playing an odd front if they didn't have a nose guard that could handle the double A gaps. this might not be exactly true. Now. The nose. tells his QB that every time he sees a stack. Can't see the diagrams? Click here. as opposed to a player. If he sees color. If the nose slants to the play side. .fullback.8 percent of coaches polled now use instead of reading individual players. 3. the ball can be pitched on midline triple. Now. Ken Niumatalo. the QB is asked to read an area. both outside linebackers and both safeties are all within two yards of the offensive tackles. odd-stack teams. in many cases the odd front became the "flavor of the week" for defenses that would change their entire scheme that week when defending the option. It's a reoccurring issue that will be discussed later in the report. This is becoming more common among coaches who feel they need to get to the perimeter vs. or keep or pitch the ball to the slot back (A back). 2.reading defenders instead of blocking them. What we've found is that 64. If he sees grass. chances are your guard will get picked. 31. we will be referring to both in this report. the pitch player. Since most option teams use a count system to designated who will be the dive player. Up to 8 Defenders in Tackle Box: The structure of the odd stack can distribute a total of eight defenders from A-back to A-back. If you run a traditional Navy style flex bone offensive formation . Navy's head coach. 4.8 percent of coaches now employ an area read system (which we will discuss later) when playing odd front teams. Theoretically.just like true odd stack teams. A Protected Mike LB: With that middle linebacker in the odd stack protected. In fact.7 percent of the coaches polled do (Diagram 1) -you're outnumbered by one player. According to coaches. It's a system that 64. to read the area not a player because he can anticipate some sort of gap exchange. both defensive ends. the middle line backer. It can be as simple as that.

In other words. in which he will have to recite just to make sure his eyes are up." Lusardi teaches his QB to "pull unless" against odd schemes. Sure. But . "We love playing against an odd stack because the read key is so far removed. there are some aspects of the play that may be tweaked .8 percent of coaches use the defender's jersey number to determine whether to give or keep the ball. we found that those who "run their stuff. so it's a greater likelihood for a give. (or B gap if he's a 4i technique)." regardless of what a defense does. According to our research. Case 1: Proper Mesh of the QB/FB (B-Back) Contrary to the veer scheme. there were some purists this weekend at the clinic that felt there are too many likely circumstances (like the ones mentioned above) that would prevent success. the QB should pull the ball unless he feels the dive player can't tackle the full back in which case he would give it. If you're playing an odd front. "It's a long way for the 4-tech to close. 44." "run their stuff. the head coach at Morris Catholic High School (NJ). a higher percentage than a shoulder level or head level read.With all of these problems. the midline veer scheme hits tighter and faster. his reads will change. The QB will usually have to open up on the midline of the center (thus the name of the play) and seat the ball to the fullback or B-back as option guys call him. Because he's closing from the C gap. like an odd stack. He teaches this by using a one-two-five finger read drill to make sure the QB's eyes are up and on the read key." said Greg Lusardi. but we found otherwise. "We do this just to keep him honest. many times the five-technique would be the dive read because he's the next defensive lineman past the center. because when teams start to twist. we will make him hand the ball off every time. chances are a give can be at least a three yard gain before the Bback is touched. He'll flash a number at the QB." said Lusardi. Now. "When we first put in the read. but still have him reading my fingers. But when we researched the topic thoroughly. one would think that the midline scheme isn't a suitable call against odd stack defenses.which is the purpose of this report.

replaces the read. The opposite foot pushes away. but many guys who have been running the ride-and-decide just don't want to change. The body is limp. "All you do is take the snap. and the ball must be on the mid-point of the center . If the QB believes the read key can make the tackle. mainly because we know that we will see a ton of odd fronts . We call it stab. It's a much simpler way of teaching it. because it helps his quick passing game. makes sure his best lineman every year is his center.in other words. Case 2: Controlling the Entry Point . "We tell the QB to step off the midline. his feet better go back fast.the A Gap Of course. His first step will be a drop step with the foot opposite the play ." says Cella. the offensive coordinator at Ripon College (WI). the nose guard could present a problem against the midline scheme." says Sheehan. Lusardi teaches his QB NOT to seat the ball (meaning keep the ball in front of him without moving it. It's a mesh and a soft squeeze on the ball.2 percent of coaches feel that under center is the best way to run the midline) we are about appeasing our readers. If the dive key crashes. right up his crack. He's at 4 yards but he cheats up half a step. he must transfer his weight to his front foot and cannot allow the read to go beyond the front foot. seat the ball six inches from chest and fully extend arms. snaps the ball back and rides him through. He steps off the midline. mainly because those teams teach the running back to be responsible for the mesh). Primarily because old school option guys like Cella. it's a far superior method. in which the gun midline will be addressed. Essentially. This is to make sure the cylinder is cleared for the B-back. he'll force the ball back as far as possible with the weight on the back foot and chin on the front shoulder. an organization devoted to option fanatics. so we spoke with Brian Sheehan. Cella. and this differed from some other coaches we spoke with. he can reseat the ball. Our B-back's aiming point is the front side leg of the center. feel this version of the midline can be considered a minor form of option Communism. The play side foot pushes back into the back-side A gap. Lou Cella. the founder of the Flex Bone Association. ride and replace the outside number of the dive key. he replaces him with his feet.we want to get him in the mindset of giving the football because that is where the bubble is.has a different approach when teaching the the QB/FB mesh. The QB pivots. the offensive coordinator of Thomas Moore College (KY) who has had two straight undefeated regular seasons. As the QB rides the fullback. Cella tells his QBs that once he takes the ball from center. The B-back runs his path. Instead." The first thing Lusardi will do is have the QB check the play to the largest (or widest) technique. and the opposite foot steps with it. "Our best offensive lineman is always the center. His play side foot should come slightly off the ground to allow his hips to open." Our report wouldn't be complete without addressing some of the shotgun spread midline schemes that are slowly infiltrating the football landscape. teaches a "point method" to identify whether to give or pull the ball on midline option. Despite what Cella and some other coaches at the clinic this week thought (61. the ball is pointed at the mid-point of the center while the QB ends up in the back-side A gap. We didn't want to spend too much time on this topic because we are currently conducting the largest ever study on the zone read principle (results of this study will be released this summer). which is why Rick Coles. By nature. "We're in pistol the entire time. Sheehan runs the midline scheme out of the pistol. He teaches the QB to seat the ball. and runs. He stabs the ball into the belly of the B-back while riding and deciding.seven o'clock when going right and five o'clock when going left. Next Week's Report: The Shade Nose Guard. who tutors thousands of players every year on the intricacies of the Navy offense at his clinics across the country. much like spread option teams do. Our deep back is always heels at 6 yards. Get this Study FREE! "It's the easiest way to get the ball from QB to B-back.

It's a block that he learned from Navy.1 percent of coaches have their B-back run at the butt of the center." Cella teaches his tackle to "high pressure control" the 5-technique out. But in the odd stack. Can't see the diagrams? Click here. We usually stay on our track of staying in the front side A gap against four down fronts. but against odd structures. so it's a natural thing for the fullback to do. The center will take the nose where he wants to go.we just jump cut it back-side (Diagram 2). but now he tells his fullback to run at the play side hip of the center. According to our research.during the course of the season for what we do. When the nose stunts hard and Mike LB fills the back-side A. you're a guy short on the back-side so the fullback should be able to split them. The center has to be able to handle that nose and the FB cuts off of the center's block. This means that the tackle blocks the five out and works vertical." We've found that option teams handle the nose in one of two ways . the nose usually beats our center. "We're the only college program in our area of the Midwest that runs the scheme.a slanting nose (or one gap nose) or a two gap nose." Cella said he wouldn't run the midline scheme against a two-gap nose." says Cella.which would be the center. "If you got a slanting center. His rule in all our triple options is to zone run off the first DL inside the read key . When facing a slanting center. you would need to train the FB how to cut off the center's block." says Sheehan. "It gives the FB better vision." says Lusardi. We tell our fullback that it's a first level read . . "If something crosses his face he cuts it back." said Coles. you need to make sure your center can rip though his outside pad to get him out of the front side A gap so it clears way for the fullback. it used to be the same way that Lusardi taught it to his kids. then you've got a play. 62. As soon as his heels can get to the heels of the 5-tech he turns his hips out and walls that out defender. It's too difficult for the center to block. the fullback has the green light to always cut it back. the backers can come from two different ways. "The B-back has to cut it back. "When the nose beats the center across the face you have to make the adjustment with the fullback. "If you have a nose who two gaps. In an odd stack. A disciple of Navy's schemes.

He's not worried about any B gap run-through. Can't see the diagrams? Click here. we man block it. he will release outside for the safety (Diagram 3). and eye the Mike LB to see if he blitzes the back-side A gap. however. If not. We don't area block the midline. Lusardi coaches a traditional double team. If the nose goes away from play. If he does. If he gets a 4i. The assignment of the tackle is to block the first guy outside the read key. He'll tell his center to get his hat on the play side number of the nose. Defenses can cloud the line of scrimmage and send the outside backer and safety through the B and C gaps." said Lusardi." says Lusardi. the front side A gap may be accounted for. he will often check to the midline triple option. "If that outside backer stunts into the B gap. "Verses a stack front. The play side tackle will turn out on the strong safety. but what about the back-side A gap? There are so many games an odd stack front can play. "Normally. But once Lusardi sees that outside linebacker cheating tight into the B gap pre-snap. it's important for players to recognize their assignment post-snap. he's got him. he works to pick up the stacked linebacker. the center handles him. "If the LB is closer to make the play we would check out and run the midline triple so the play side tackle can area block. If he comes play side the guard picks him up.Now. It becomes an arm tackle by that . he has a long way to go. We will double team the nose guard into the Mike with the front side guard and center." Case 3: Front Side Blocking at the Point of Attack Because there are different blitz varieties in the odd stack. The hip backer in an odd stack has too far to play the B gap to make the play. Sheehan will have the back-side guard be what he calls a "control player" to make sure that nose can't blow up the back-side A gap. the guard on midline will block the play side backer to back-side backer in a 3-4 or okie front. the center and guard must double team nose guard to the middle backer. "Our QB reads man on tackle. He never comes inside the read key. Lusardi teaches his play side tackle to never release inside the read key in midline. The FB runs off the play side hip of the center. If the nose slants back-side. The play side halfback will have a hard time coming off the hip of the tackle's block. mainly by swapping responsibilities with the Nose and the Mike linebacker. he feels the QB has plenty of time to get the read right. tells his back-side guard to come off the ball with his inside foot. Coles.

" If Cole's gets an A and B gap stunt he handles it by angle blocking the play side guard and tackle (Diagram 4)." Of the coaches we surveyed. Our play side half back comes off the tail of tackle. the midline scheme is a double option with the QB and fullback.5 foot split for the tackle. We tell our FB to split both those guys. As stated earlier. Because this may not always be accomplished due to having an overload in the box." "If they reduce to give us a 4i-technique. Now if Cole gets a 4i. which would usually be the strong safety . get to outside armpit  Back-side Guard/Tackle: drive block through back side gap . Drive through inside shoulder of C gap defender (don't be concerned with contact) and run to the safety  Play Side Guard: Veer release through A gap for back-side LB  Center: Man block the nose. a more viable option is the midline triple. Again. 44.defensive end which we'll take every time. In order to compartmentalize. our play side guard will go directly to whoever is blitzing in the A gap . It becomes an automatic give read for the QB because the five-technique is taking the C gap. He blocks for the QB on the pull and not the fullback. so it makes it a bit easier to read. we assume he's playing the fullback so we do what we call a 'slip release' which is a vertical C gap release by the tackle. he'll run what he calls a "slip release.8 percent average at least three yard splits across their offensive line. Our guard blocks for the fullback. The coaches we spoke with use it as changeup to keep defenses off-balance. we have three foot splits across the board and a 4. "If we get an A gap and B gap stunt." Can't see the diagrams? Click here. we detailed the rules for the midline triple below: Thomas Moore Midline Triple Assignments (Diagram 5)  Play Side Tackle: Identify nearest safety.you would pitch off him. Our play side tackle will find a way to get to the B gap blitzer. The tackle runs for the free safety immediately and the QB pulls and runs free. Case 4: Using the Midline Triple to Keep the Perimeter Off-Balanced It's important to realize that the major difference in the midline and the midline triple is that you don't have to block the force player in odd stack fronts.whether it be the Mike or outside linebacker.

hand off every time unless the stack fills the B gap then pitch outside. The FB runs right up the QB but his aiming point is the play side butt cheek of the center. We tell him to mesh into more of the line of scrimmage." says Coles." Can't see the diagrams? Click here. I think. "The play side slot takes the strong safety or stack backer (whoever is closest) and we just pitch off the other guy.   Play Side Slot (A-back): Seal strong safety. the difference is because of the constant exterior pressure that the odd stack presents. Our QB will mesh with the FB and read the dive key. Can't see the diagrams? Click here.it's as simple as that. Coles run the midline triple similar to Sheehan. which is.block for pitch (could switch assignments with receiver). May use twirl motion. This is also contrary to our research. Back-side Slot (A-back): Leave at the snap and get to pitch phase immediately. . where we are different. If he thinks he can get around the dive then we tell him to pull it . QB: Read the stack (nose and Mike LB) . If they bring the strong safety or stack linebacker to the QB. "Nowthe QB kick steps out and reads the first guy past the guard. Even the QB play is different for Coles.8 percent of coaches feel that no motion is the best way to block with the Aback. He kicks laterally the opposite foot and opens at 90 degrees. either way the edge is blocked. he'll twirl motion the play side slot black (A-back) to provide for instant misdirection and to buy time to see who the force player is (Diagram 6). where 67.

And don't forget to check out Lou Cella's Flex Bone Association. We realize there is a whole other world of football coaches who teach the option. Copyright 2011 . If you want to continue the discussion.Concluding Report So our first installment of option football is complete. The way that was presented here is really just a small microcosm of the different ways coaches are teaching the midline and midline triple. We'll see you next Tuesday at 7 am EST.X&O Labs . feel free to email me at mikek@xandolabs.com. We're releasing our latest research report on the Shade Nose Guard.

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