By James Vint
The midline is an option play that attacks the midpoint of the defense.
The midline concept can be run several different ways from the pistol, putting pressure on the defense’s A and B gap defenders.
The midline is a quick hitting play, and because of the closeness of the read to the quarterback, is one of the easiest option plays to install.
The midline option has simple rules for the offensive line as each player is responsible for his gap away from the play side.
Against an even front, the midline initially runs to a 3 technique or wider. The playside guard releases inside to block the A gap backer. The center is responsible for the backside A gap player, who will usually be a 1 technique or 2i. The backside guard has the backside B gap player. The backside tackle has the backside C gap player.
To create movement, any time the defense gives the offense a 1 and 5 technique to the backside, the offense can have the center and backside guard combo the 1 technique to the backside backer. If the backside backer walks up to blitz 1 the B gap, the guard stays base on him, and the center stays base on the 1 technique.
On the play side, the guard releases to the backer. The tackle and tight end adjust their blocking assignments based on the call. The base midline scheme is run versus 3 and 9 techniques to the play side. The tackle releases up to the backer, and the tight end base blocks the 9 technique.
If the defense has a 7 technique, the offense makes a fold call. This puts the tackle blocking out on the 7 technique and the tight end folding and tracking the playside linebacker.
One important coaching point for the playside guard is to reduce his shoulder to get underneath the 3 technique. If he doesn’t reduce his shoulder, he will get washed down and will not get vertical. One way to teach this is called “picking grass.” Basically, he must reduce his shoulder and pick up grass.
Rip 7 Midline Right (Fold)
Rip 7 puts the fullback aligned as a twin receiver opposite the tight end. You can use your fullback, or you can bring a receiver into the game.
With the fullback aligned opposite the tight end, the defense must either rotate the secondary or adjust the front. Below, the fold scheme is being run on the front side as the defense has rotated its secondary weak.
The read is the exact same for the quarterback.
- The tailback stays on the midpoint.
- The quarterback reads the 3 technique.
- The center and backside guard combo the backside 1 technique to the Will linebacker.
Liz 3 Bone Midline Right (Weak)
The midline is a great play to run from three-back sets as well, typically checked to the side of the 3 technique.
Being a three-back set means the offset back to the weak side can become the second player tracking the playside backer if the play is run away from the tight end, as depicted below. The backside back comes around to be the pitchman, calling, “Ball, ball” as he runs his pitch path.
Because of the tight path of the quarterback into the B gap, the ball will rarely be pitched.
- The formation call puts the fullback to the left and the halfback offset right.
- The reads for the quarterback remain the same.
- The halfback and the playside guard track the playside backer to the free safety.
A midline option series gives a pistol offense an easy set of plays to install to attack the defense in a quick-hitting manner. They make the defense react quickly and work alongside inside and outside zone reads.
Being able to run multiple plays from the same look keeps the defense honest – and oftentimes vanilla – if you can run them effectively.
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.