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