Four Midline Option Plays From the Pistol Formation

By James Vint

The goal of every offense is the get the ball in the hands of its playmakers. For option teams, that means being able to keep or pitch the ball at the right time to find open space and take advantage of what the defense gives you.

For midline option plays out of the pistol, the defense must make adjustments to defend the midline. If your offense is blocking the play well, and the quarterback is making good reads, the defense will rely on players folding fast to make the play.

This requires the offense have some answers to take advantage of defenders vacating their gap responsibilities. Additionally, these complements allow the offense to dictate who carries the football.

Here is a four-play series that does just that.

Rip 3 Midline Pitch Right

The pitch scheme takes advantage of an outside linebacker falling into the midline play, vacating his force responsibility.

The pitch tells the offensive line they will not block the read player or the next adjacent down defender outside the read player. The tight end will arc release to the outside linebacker if the play is being run strong.

Coaching points:

Your tight end must rip and reach and get his eyes on the force player.

The quarterback widens his path slightly on a pull read.

The fullback gets into pitch relationship quickly.

Rip 2 Midline Pitch versus an odd front

The pitch scheme can also be run against an odd front defense.

The tackle releases to the playside inside backer while the center and frontside guard combo to the backside inside backer.

Depending on the technique of the backside defensive end, the backside guard could work with the center and right guard. The tight end arcs up to the rotated invert.

Coaching points:

The quarterback reads the 5 technique for his dive read.

The end defender on the line is the pitch key.

The fullback must be quick to get into pitch relationship.

Rip Midline Pitch left (Weak)

The pitch scheme can be run to the weak side as well.

The guard releases inside to the playside backer, while the playside tackle releases outside and works up to the first player in an opposite-colored jersey.

The fullback becomes the pitchman and can be aligned playside or opposite. If he is playside, he will drop step, get into pitch relationship and stay patient to allow the quarterback time to read the 3 technique.

The pitch scheme takes advantage of force players who quickly fall into the box on a pull read by the quarterback.

Coaching points:

The fullback must be patient so he doesn’t get in front of the quarterback.

The quarterback read stays the same.

The receivers must do a great job of blocking the perimeter.

R 5 Midline Pitch Right (Crack)

The pitch scheme can also be run with a crack tag, putting the halfback working to the corner and the playside receiver cracking the invert.

This is a great scheme to create a running lane when you anticipate the ball will be pitched.

Coaching points:

The Z receiver cracks the inverted player or near safety.

The quarterback read does not change.

The backside fullback becomes the pitchman.

James Vint is the offensive line coach at Estacado High school in Seminole, Texas. He has been both an offensive and defensive coordinator at the high school and college levels, including Truman State University and Iowa Wesleyan College.

Do you have a thought about this article that you would like to share? If you do, email managing editor Dan Guttenplan at Tweet us @fnfcoaches.