How to Coach Mid-Line vs. Odd Stack

By C. Ray Gregory

Installing Mid-Line we need to teach it as a two way go option; reading the first down linemen outside the center. If the guard is uncovered we will continue our eyes out looking to identify the read. Every offensive player must know who the read is for us to have a chance to gain yards. This must happen at the line of scrimmage in pre snap communication from each player inside the box. This process will start with the center with who will call out odd, flowed by right side guard, tackle; and slot then the left side will make their calls. If the crowd is too loud you will need to use hand signals. Make them as simple as pointing with the correct hand to alert teammates inside or outside technique. (Figure 1) The slots or inside receivers always use hand signals to each outside of them and finish with look at partner slot. These signals can be better taught in collaboration with players during a meeting after you completed teaching the rules and concepts.

Against these odd fronts we will be reading a 4I out to play call side. We will not block this defender he is our read. He will decide who gets to carry the football, our running back or quarterback.  His actions will allow our quarterback to make the decisions to either give the football to the dive back or keep it himself replacing the read defender. The quarterback must get his eyes on the read so he can see if he sits give the ball and carry out your fake. If read gets up field give it and carry out your fake. If read steps out give it and carry out your fake. If read,  crashes down with eyes on dive back pull the football keeping it replacing were the read came from. If read crashes down with eyes on you give the ball and get soft to absorb the blow. The quarterback must trust his teammates to be in their spots as he focuses on his read.

Mesh is about trust the quarterback foot work must be consistent. It must become a fine tuned machine between our quarterback and our dive back they must be fluent with this part of the operation. The quarterback first step will push back using opposite foot of play side call. Looking to get off the the line of scrimmage stepping back at six o’clock, getting shoulders square, and slight bent knees – ready to go. Using a push away step looking to get as far off the line of scrimmage as you are comfortable can achieve. This will get you away from the line of scrimmage creating rushing angle if read give us a keep read. The quarterback will brings the ball to his third hand (Belly), as he steps at Six, the quarterback will reach the ball deep pushing it up seeding the football at the waist while in a good power position allowing him to be able to push off his back foot ready to carry the football while snapping his eyes to his read all at the same time. He must work to improve his craft as an option quarterback with repetitions. Using bags we always begin with teaching, allowing them to be the read. This way they can better see what he could try to do to them with on the job training as we installed the play on the field. If you are in the pistol or gun formation your quarterback will only need to pivot and square shoulders (Figure 2).

The dive back will step play side foot aiming at the outside leg of our center running towards  the mesh point forming a soft pocket framing jersey inside arm thumb down pined  onto the top of the jersey numbers, bottom hand pink pinned and up at bottom of the numbers. He will run through the football looking to get forward running downhill looking to hit it full speed getting vertical as quickly as possible (Figure 3). In reading the stack quarterback must look at the area and use eyes to read the stunt.  The stack can set if so give it then carry out your fake, they can easy stunt you linebacker fire in A gap it is a long way to go for the linebacker to go against a wider track from the dive back it could be effective but not this track playing the odd front is most days a give feast for the dive back. They can blood stunt you both must take correct angle and speed but against best to give it long way to go give it.

The offensive line will be in three foot splits. They will set off the center with helmets breaking the belt of the center. They will be in three point stance with more weight leaning forward to help momentum to get movement on defenders. Once we identity our read they will look now how we will be able to use blocking angles to our best advantage. We use blocking rules that hold up against most all fronts and exceptions to our rules would be taught as well. We always prepare for odd fronts and in doing so it allows us to play faster with more confidence. These rules are simple and are used in our running game. We use buzz words; Base definition is if you have a man inside of you lined up on you or sitting on your outside shoulder if not block nearest linebacker head up to inside. Ace definition is a double team between our center and play side guard. Veer definition is block first linebacker head up to inside do not cross the face of our read face. We need to know if the read key is messing with you in any way trying to hold you are mirroring your steps. If you are using a tight end he will use the play side slots rules. The slots will run variations with rules for each these would be tagged on the plays these terms would be Lead description needing a insert, Twirl meaning insert from a half motion improving blocking angle, Opposite meaning slot away from play call goes tails motion hoping to confuses teams that try to follow motion with their secondary, and No-Mo short for no motion for either slot. The receivers must sprint off the football looking looking to eat up cushion and get defender turned and running away from the football. They will block man on towards play side and backside will look to rally across the field to far away safety.


BST Scoop (play side gap to backside linebacker)
BSG Scoop
C Base (inside, on, outside, linebacker)
PSG Ace (double team with center)
PST Veer to base ( veer for linebacker if the read is the end man on the line of scrimmage  base one man out if not)
PS Slot Insert  on lead ( his role can change on variation of play)
BS Slot Pitch man ( his role may change on variation of play)
PWR Block deepest defender
BWR Cross field safety
D Run track outside leg of center
QB Get depth and feet on the ground eyes on read


Mid-line allows lots of ways to block fronts and change reads.

Quarterback will need to extend arms against odd fronts.

Dive back will feel the quarterback he will not snatch the football.

Center and play side guard must get movement on the nose.

Play side Tackle can show pass as a variation to the play.

Play side slot must run his feet after contact he needs to pin the linebacker inside.

Pride and effort full speed every play must be in the receiving core because their effort off the football will set play action and RPO.

If you are lacking success you can base the read against an odd and use the drive back as a lead blocker making it a quarterback power play.