Tuesday, October 20, 2015


As a last article to attacking the 5-1-5 structure, we will explore the supplemental plays. Plays that either keep a specific aspect of the option in play or plays that take advantage of the structure itself.

Part I - First let's talk about keeping the fullback involved:

There was a time that 4i's gave us a problem in keeping the fullback in the game and in order to be an triple option team you MUST keep the fullback threat alive or the defense will get into a rhythm of flying out to the quarterback and pitch and outnumbering you at the flank. (trust me, I learned this one the hard way.) Just the threat of the fullback slows down the alley safety, the middle linebacker and forces the defense to change option assignments or die with the first threat.

First thought pattern vs this defense is that the 4i's are fullback player. Why else would they put them in there. (They can't get to midline from 4's) Additionally, they must be fullback players due to the lack of inside numbers to be stout against him (NG and MLB)

First option "Outside Veer" (see Fig. 1)

(Note: In order to keep the mesh consistent we will cut down our splits to g-c two feet and g-tackle one foot. We can now aim at the inside foot of the tackle for an easier fullback entry path. However, the QB / fullback steps and mesh have remained the same. This also allows for an easier power zone with the guard and tackle. [they will double until the tackle is forced to come off.) You've cut down a total of 3' and expanded the path 3'. So the fullback's path is essentially the same.)

You now read # 2 (DE/OLB) and pitch off #3 (Strong safety)

This play has the added affect of helping with a hard charging strong safety that is hard to arc by the halfback, as we are optioning him now.

With a single lber  defense we have the option of wide sealing the halfback (See fig 2) as the power scoop can handle the MLB and now we not only influence #2 with our outward move but can account for the free. Thus everybody is blocked.

If you want to make this this a QB fullback play setting up the wheel. You can also run this with our special call (fig.3) having the Wr and HB switch assignments. Or run it from twins. (fig 4)

Second Option: "Zone dive" (see Fig. 5)

Zone dive does the same thing as the outside veer, except there is no reading it and the splits remain normal. The fullback will now "read the tackle's block. Either will be successful here.

Third Option: "Midline Dive" (see fig 6)

We love this play vs any odd defense but especially against this one. First thing you must analyze is can your center neutralize the nose. We prefer this agains an active nose as he is doing our job for us.
We will take as big as splits as the defense will allow and cut the inside leg of the tackle. (take 4-5 foot if possible) The FB reads the nose (we will back him up an extra foot some some years) and stays A to A. You must make the defense pay for letting one linemen cover so big of an area.
The play can be run to motion, no motion, twirl motion, whatever gives you the best movement out of the nose

If a team is trying to play us in 4 tech's with this defense, we will run this till the cows come home!

One year we were playing this defense with a great 300lb D1nose. We cut our guard / center splits and really opened our tackles. All three players came off at the nose with him him deciding who came off (if anybody!) It worked extremely well.

Part II - Keeping the quarterback in play

The defense basically declares itself as back to back vs the triple.  By alignment this is a pretty easy scheme to figure out. (They may stunt #2 and #3 but rarely as the free has to move over and we handled that before.) They are expanding their defense and then declaring the ball to go outside NOW into their strength.  In essence they are saying - You will not run the QB or Fullback on the triple and they will have close run support to force the pitch player back to pursuit quickly. You need to make them respect the QB. We've already done a little of this with our midline tuck play. You also need the close support to pay (other then the play-action pass.)Let's look at some more.

First Option: "Triple T-load" (see fig.7)

We've talked about this earlier as a midline play but it is better as a triple due to the fact that the quarterback gets out quicker. He can circle the defense quicker. The OLB should be an easy log due to his aggressive nature as a true c-gap player. The HB can read inside or outside the tackle and the quarterback can still tuck.

Second Option: "Double option wide receiver load" (fig. 8)

We will run our zone option from flex and let the Wr crack #2. He must stay inside to be sound. If he comes out on the flex run OV (Navy did it to Notre Dame for 50 yards and 6 points) The skip out by the quarterback allows him to bypass any penetration. (Don't load with the wide receiver off the triple as he can't get around the garbage!)

Third option: "Tackle or TE load" (See fig 9)

Because of the c-gap need of the OLB / DE This becomes steeling. I they play a 9 run the down till the cows come home. (fig 10)

Part III Using the HB to exploit the defense.

There are a couple of plays we use to keep the halfback in the game and take advantage of defensive structure.

First option: Counter Dive (fig 11)

This is our way to influence the nose guard. He will chip play side as in a reach and come off flat for the 4i. The fullback and the center are responsible for the 4i to the Strong Safety.

If the nose slants hard on motion, the center will take him and the guard will go up to the backer who is usually flowing away. (fig. 12)  Again, we will wider our splits with the key being the backside tackle's cut block.

Second option: Double option. (fig 13)

This is our zone option with the fullback wrapping. Again, the fullback can only take so many hits from a 4i and the quart back may have trouble with the back to back. In this scheme the fullback should be able to get to the free. We use the same splits as in our outside veer to facilitate the zone. Plus the quarterback can read only one person, eliminating the back to back.
(Note: we can run this away from trips or unbalanced in order to soften the arc. Or we may crack arc #! and exchange the halfback and wide receiver's block. In this defense, the numbers usually remain the same but the softness of support and the dual threat [run or pass] conflict on the support player may make the arc easier.)

That's a complete running game vs this "junk" defense.  You don't need it all, just what you do best. Remember, the stranger the defense the bigger the voids, the less you have to do.

We will get into another junk defense next time. You may never see these but the key is to be prepared if you do. If you do have a defense you would like to see attacked, email me at 3backoption@gmail.com.

Note: Due to time, I purposely left off the passing game as the tradition single high attack works.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Today we'll deal with the same 5-1-5 defense and answer how and why we would run the midline. In this case we will talk about both the midline triple and the midline tuck play.

NOTE: In some of the early diagrams in this article, the backside tackle is not drawn in - he will reach the 4i cutting him.

Midline triple.

First lets take a look at the midline triple. (fig 1) vs the 5-1-5 with the tackles wide in 4i's.
We will use twirl motion to better phase it up with the pitch phase.

From the tackle out it is the same as our loop triple. The only difference is we tell the tackle he will go directly to the free. There is no way our guard cannot handle the MLB with leverage on him, the fullback staying on the midline, and motion away. Remember that this is a single MLB defense and the only way they can outnumber you is to get that lber over the top on triple.

Additionally, the guards must step with inside foot to protect the path of the FB.

The center has the nose. A lot of people don't like running the midline at a zero nose. I love it. The key is to just get movement. We use a "slide base" technique. with take a short 6" step play side but delay the backside foot for a micro second. (its not even noticeable) This allows for the center to take the nose where he wants to go. If he doesn't pick a side then the center will force him backside.

(Remember, in earlier articles I've always said you need a good center to run this offense. At times he has been our best linemen. IF THERE IS A MISMATCH AT CENTER REFER TO OUR "MUSH" CALL. - see below)

The backside guard steps inside to the MLBer. Either him or the PS guard will continue downfield.

The backside tackle will cut the 4i. If the backside overhang is chasing it down we will add a third linemen away from the play to widen his path (Tac over or TE in game) or make a mush call allowing us to fan the backside..

When we get a "zero" nose we tell the Fullback to read the center's block. It is either a playside or backside a-gap play. The key for it is to tell him think playside and react to backside and always stay square to the line of scrimmage getting upfield. Problems arise when the fullback thinks he's a HB and flattens out to the B gap. (One of the key structural problems of this defense is the nose is a two gap player - take advantage of it.)

Why use midline triple.
  • The quarterback is having trouble with the quick back to back read. (fig 2) This is one of the reasons they play this defense. To get the ball out of your fullback and quarterbacks hands now. The midline triple pulls the mesh away from the stunt.

  • Different angle for dive key. It slows down the hard mesh charge by the DT that can cause havoc. Because the fullback is further away the Dt must change his course. He will hesitate now on the mesh charge also. (TRUST ME YOUR FULLBACK WILL LIKE YOU A WHOLE LOT MORE) (see fig.2 above)
  • If they are trying to get 6 people placed post snap.  Many people will in the defense slant the nose to motion, trying to get him to come other and play the FB. They will also run the Backer over the top. If the Free is flowing, this becomes a seven man side. (fig.3) Take advantage of it.  (we don't like counter option as much because of the overhang in the QB's face. We will run it at times but this gives the QB a chance to read his way out.)

  • The people who have run this defense on me in the past have used the idea of two close strong safeties to their advantage, They have (like most 8 man front teams) blitzed off the edge to the side of the free safety. The difference is that it is the side the free ends up on after motion. (see figure 3 above and fig 4 for examples of this.) They can't stunt off both sides and be sound against the pass. (at least is my mind.) If they are coming to the motion - they will be soft away.

  • It is a simple way to keep the fullback in the game. Because the mesh happens behind the center it is a long way to go for the handoff key. (and as mentioned previously a different angle!)  Additionally, splits do not affect the integrity of the mesh so you can take the guard and tackle out as far as they will go. Make them pay for having only two players to protect such a huge area.  If the MLB is flowing with the motion - now its one man in that large area.
  • The free isn't usually as active vs the midline triple due to the twirl motion.

Mush call:

We use a mush call when one of two things are bothering us. 
  • The nose is a mismatch for our center
  • There is a 4i and an overhang that is chasing down the midline.
If is a simple technique that we practice for about 2 1/2 min every week in case it comes up.

The center will stay square and step for the back half of the nose. (see fig 5) The guard will step for the front half of they nose. They will knock the center straight back.  They will only come off if they get to LBer level or the Lber shows in the gap. We tell them to push the Nose into the LBER. 
(Note: usually the Lber is flowing to get good option number. )

Because both a-gaps are secured, the guard can make a "fan" call (something we usually do with a three tech. ) and the guard and tackle can handle the B and C gap rushers, stopping the chase from behind. (see fig 5)

"Mush" can also be used with the midline tuck below.

Using the Midline tuck play (fig 6 and fig. 7)

The midline tuck play is also an excellent addition vs. the 5-1-5. Many of the same reasons apply. Additional reasons include

  • With back to back reads the free safety will usually be a pitch player and assume the first two of your options are taken. (with motion to you will have a blocker for him and the strong due to leverage on the middle backer.
  • If the free strong read the HB tucking. You can switch the assignments of the HB
  • With B/B reads there is very little room for the QB running. This keeps him in play and  changes entry points of the QB.
  • It gives you a lot of formation leeway.
  • It keeps the backside SS honest with twirl. If he peaks inside for the tuck / the midline triple is a give me. If he stays outside the tuck is.
  • Due to the distance the 4i must travel and the fact the overhang is the next player out, the gap just becomes too big. I've see both safeties fill inside,we get a hat on them, and there is still plenty of room.
Note: you can still use a "mush" call on the tuck play  (see above for details.)

Variation on the midline triple: The loaded midline triple

Because of the structure of the 5-1-5 in which they have stretched the interior of the defense. At times the DE ?OLB (#2) will try and play inside the fan of the tackle. If we know we are playing this defense we will add our loaded version of the midline tuck and turn it into a false key the free safety. We do this by changing one persons assignment - the OT. He will now block the outside hip of the DE/OLB and the quarterback will stretch the play trying to get to the SS.  (See fig 8)

If the DE (#2) widens he can still tuck. If the SS peaks inside he will leverage pitch now! (there's nobody out there! see fig 9) If he gets around the corner - he's usually free to go as the FS either reads the HB tuck and fills inside or is a pitch player due to the QB usually being accounted for by the DE (#2)

NOTE: we also run this scheme off the triple with a great running QB in order to get him on the perimeter quicker and slow the FS down.

In our next section we will talk about keeping the fullback in the game with the zone dive, midline dive, and the outside veer.