When 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 to read for us to be successful and gain yards.
This must happen at the line of scrimmage in presnap communication from each player inside the box. The center calls odd, followed by right side guard, tackle and slot. Then the left side make their calls. If the crowd is too loud, they need to use hand signals. Make them as simple as pointing with the correct hand to alert teammates inside or outside technique.
The slots or inside receivers always use hand signals to the receiver outside of them and finish by looking at the partner slot. These signals can be better taught in collaboration with players during a meeting after you complete teaching the rules and concepts.
Against odd fronts, we will be reading a 4I out to play call side. We will not block this defender as he is our read. His actions allow our quarterback to make the decision to either give the football to the dive back or keep it himself, replacing the read defender.
If the defender steps out or gets upfield, give it and carry out the fake. If the defender crashes down on the dive back, keep the football. If the defender crashes down, 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.
Footwork must become a fine-tuned machine between the quarterback and dive back. They must be fluent and consistent with this part of the operation. The quarterback’s first step will push back, using the opposite foot of the play side call. Look to get off the line of scrimmage by stepping back at six o’clock, getting shoulders square and slightly bending the knees. Using a push away step, look to get as far off the line of scrimmage as you are comfortable with.
The quarterback will bring the ball to his belly as he steps at six o’clock then reach deep, pushing up the football at the waist while in a good power position. This allows him to be able to push off his back foot, ready to carry the football while simultaneously snapping his eyes to his read.
Through repetition, he must work to improve his craft as an option quarterback. We always begin with teaching by using bags, allowing them to be the read. If you are in the pistol or gun formation, your quarterback will only need to pivot and square shoulders.
Read more of this Coaches Note here: Installing the Mid-Line versus the Odd Stack
Coach Gregory shares the why and the how behind the mid-line.
The installation plan for how this is taught is shared to include video on the drills utilized to teach the skills necessary to mid-line.
How to attack the odd stack defense from the mid-line is detailed and explained.
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About Coach C. Ray Gregory
C. Ray Gregory has been the slot backs coach at Bethune-Cookman University since 2008. With more than two decades of experience, he also has coached at Southern Utah, Millsaps, Hines (Miss.), Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Itawamba and Buffalo. Three of his teams won NCAA rushing titles while running his renowned option offensive system. Check out his books here.
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