Friday, March 4, 2011

An Analysis of two different mesh techniques

After running the triple for seventeen years now, I am amazed how many different ways there area to teach it, package it, and systemize it. The philosophies behind all these methods vary greatly but they all have one thing in common – they stick to basic three back triple option theory. The same is true with how people teach the quarterback mechanism. I have seen an investigated many different methods over the years, some legit and some – well let's just say out there. The four that I hear most mentioned now are (in no order of preference) 1) the glide ride, 2) the hop step or flat footed read, 3) the quick read, and 4) the "point" method. When deciding what method is better for you there are a number of factors to study. So let's take a look at the two most popular method – the glide and the flat footed mesh. They certainly have their plusses and minuses.

The Glide Ride

The oldest method going and the original wishbone technique the glide ride has been around for decades. It is the one I prefer (probably because of comfortability and ease in teaching from experience.)

Method: The quarterback will push off his backside foot getting and much depth as possible and pointing his toe to the sideline. (for the people using a clock we want to get to 5 o'clock with the step.) As he steps, he simultaneously, pushes with his backside hand to extend the ball over the backside foot and tucks his chin snapping his eyes to the read key. (The eyes should go to the read key a fraction before the snap – in essence cheating the snap.) The key here is the backside arm doesn't bend. It is like a board and pushes the ball back. As the fullback catches up to the quarterback, the ride starts and the second step is taken parallel to the line of scrimmage. In essence the ball travels with the fullback and the step is taken as the ride occurs.

Coaching Points: The first step is a push with the weight presnap on the backside foot. If the quarterback steps rather than pushes, he will end up a backward lean, his backside foot facing into the l.o.s. and rising up on the step. The ball must be pushed back simultaneously with the foot. We tell the quarterback that there is a string connected from the back to the playside foot. The fullback must be around 4 1/3 yards. The Georgia tech type system with the fullback at 5 yards leaves the quarterback sitting on his front foot too long.

Pros: The biggest pro is the glide ride. It combines the best of all worlds since the front foot is a duration step. The depth of it controls how long you are in the mesh. Vs. a person that crashes the mesh the quarterback can take a shorter second step and get the ball out before being tied up in the mesh. Vs a reader, the quarterback can step longer into the line and make the read commit. This leads to very good ball protection.

Because of the duration step it is easier to read the up move because you have time. (up moves is where handoff key starts to close and then comes off to the quarterback.

Because of the duration step, an experienced quarterback can handle the back to back (dive – qb read now stunt) pretty well. Although it is not the easiest for doing that.

With everything moving throughout the mesh, the quarterback doesn't have to start up again from a dead standstill. This always a lesser athlete to seem quicker because he is already moving. It also alleviates the triple getting chased down from behind as often since you are running away from it.

If you are an old fashion, fullback frontside triple (cut the nose in a fifty – loop scheme) this meshes up the best with a shorter distanced fullback.

Cons: Because everything is moving throughout the mesh, it is harder to teach. Moving parts are always harder to teach.

I have found this harder to teach to a real tall quarterback. They tend to get too much lean over their first step.

Inexperienced quarterbacks tend to push through the mesh and tie themselves up or, worst let, run into back to back stunts.

Because the hand moves with the feet, a quarterback must have quick hands in order to execute the fake

If you run a triple with a deeper fullback allowing a cutback this does not help you. The quarterback is too long in his first step and the glide step can take away the cutback.

If the second foot doesn't get to the fullback's path through the mesh, the fullback will actually be running away from the pendulum of the arm ride causing a possible fumble on a five situation.

The flat footed or hop method.

This is the method that is very popular today with the Georgia Tech, Navy style attacks. I have used this in certain situations (see below) but am not the biggest fan of it.

Method: As the quarterback steps with depth on his first step, he quickly (simultaneously) steps with his backside foot. This creates almost a hopping motion to get the feet parallel with the fullback's path. As with the glide ride the quarterback will push the ball back with his off arm (like a board – no bend) and tuck his chin on his frontside shoulder focusing on the read key. He will then ride from a flatfooted stance.

Coaching points: The quarterback must get both feet into the ground as fast as possible. The ball must be pushed back as the quarterback hops as deep as possible with the front arm as stiff as a board. As he hops the eyes must immediately go to the handoff key. Once the second step is down the feet must be parallel to the fullback's path. Although both feet seem to be in the air, care must be given to have knee bend throughout the mesh.

Pros: Since once the hop is taken the moving parts are limited and the foot movement is consistent regardless of the defensive reaction, it is a very easy mess to teach.

Because the read is done flat footed it is much easier to read stunts (echo – qb and handoff key exchange, back to back, etc.) as well as any read where the speed of the read affects the outcome. (i.e. a wide 5 or 7 coming at the mesh – will he get there.) It you don't believe this – stand on a train station and judge the speed of the trains as they pass. Now, get on a moving train and try to gauge the speed of a train passing by in the opposite direction. It is much easier to judge from the stationary position on the platform.

Because the quarterback is stationary it is much easier for him to execute the technique of stepping backwards vs. the crash back to back reads.

Since the ride is a consistent distance the quarterback and fullback get a good feel for the disconnect or giving "timing." When it is no longer going to be changed

Since the footwork is basically set, all of the quarterback's thought process can focus on the read and the mechanics of the give or pull.

Because of the consistency of the footwork it facilitates the fullback cutback.

Cons: Because both feet are actually moving simultaneously there is a tendency to not get the foot or the ball as deep. There really is no push mechanism (off other foot) so the ride is usually shorter.

The quarterback must restart from a stationary position. This takes a better (faster) athlete. He has more of a tendency to get caught from behind. (It's why Georgia Tech, etc. tuck their quarterback up so quick)

Because the duration of the ride is set, it is not as good vs. the up move (see above) and can get stuck in the mesh vs. the mesh crash

With both feet off the ground simultaneously, there tend to be some inconsistencies. They include 1. not getting the send foot up to the fullback's path causing the fullback to run away from the pendulum of the arm action of the quarterback; 2. When one hops he tends to rise up or sit on the back foot; and 3) when you hop it is harder to immediately focus on the read area. (This is only a millisecond but it happens. Your whole body is moving so your eyes and head are changing levels. If you don't believe this step at a wall turn your head and read a word. Hop around and do the same thing. It is slower because of the change in head level.)

With your Fullback at 4 1/3 it is very harder to get both feet in the ground and catch up arm wise to the fullback.

Additional methods:

Although I have not used the other two methods (point and quick read) I have researched them in order if they were for me. Here are the reasons I eliminated them.

Quick Read: Popularized by Tony DeMeo it is a great way in college because the quarterback makes his mind up on the first step (he may look like the glide ride above or may not even connect with the fullback in some reads.) It in essence, allows you to add the fullback as a blocker after his option is eliminated and greatly cuts down on fumbles. The problem comes in that Tony expects the fullback to cut the read if he squeezes and then comes off when he sees the fullback doesn't have the ball. In college the cut makes up for the loss of leverage by the fullback. Without being able to cut in high school this is an uphill block for the fullback. As always Tony has a great innovation but the differences in high school and college keep it from being universally accepted.

Point Method: This is where the quarterback points the ball at the fullback but does not put it in unless it is a give read. Originally, a split back veer technique it was very successful in that scheme because of the quarterback working on the line of scrimmage and the nearness of the read to the mesh. (right in front of him.) With the fullback behind the quarterback the mesh is far enough away from the read that he can read the mesh for give or keep. (just reads if he puts it in or not.) The football historians will remember that the distance of the mesh and OLB's reading it forced the demise of the outside veer out of the I formation.


Which method is better? That's up to you. A lot depends of your total scheme, depth of fullback, how you handle the crease (cutback or not), your experience, and how comfortable you are teaching. They both have their plusses and minuses. Perhaps it's a combination of the too. As a example, we have always taught the glide ride but with a one-year senior at quarterback, an inexperienced young kid, or a very tall quarterback I have taught the hop. There is no rule that you can't teach 2 different quarterbacks different methods. I've seen many option teams teach one way of pitching but if a quarterback comes in pitching comfortably and successfully a different way they won't change it. We have even gone as far as packaging plays differently for two different quarterbacks with different abilities.