As a youth coach, you may be tempted to stop with a single option play. And in fact, during the younger years of say 2nd and 3rd grade, the inside veer track IS probably the only option that you’ll need.
But at some point, some defense will commit their tackles to the B gaps, and have four players pressing the perimeter. For example
In the defense shown above, the inside tackles playing on the outside shoulders of our guards will either squeeze the inside veer (B gap) dive, or blow it up completely if our guard is beaten. Our quarterback, you will remember, is reading T4 for our standard option, running an inside veer track for the dive. If our playside guard can’t scoop the 3 technique (T), the fullback will have a long day trying to run through the B gap.
Enter the Midline
What’s needed here is a second type of option play. Instead of the Inside Veer, youth teams should also have one or more Midline options to run against this and other wide-sitting defenses.
There are many ways the Midline can be run. Initially, the simplest way to teach it to youth teams is as a Midline Lead. This is a double option (FB / QB) with the motion back lead blocking instead of getting in pitch relationship. Midline Lead against that same defense is shown below.
The Midline differs from the Inside Veer in two critical ways. First, the Dive Key is not the #4 man necessarily. Instead, we teach that the Dive Key for Midline is “the first down lineman to the playside of our center.” This means that the guard typically has the option block against an even front, not the tackle. The rules are the same for our guard as they are for our tackle on the Inside Veer – if the dive key crosses his face, he blocks him down. The second major difference of course is the track of the fullback. We teach our fullback to go to our center’s playside hip. This path requires that our quarterback hop backwards, into the backside A gap, for the mesh.
For the Lead version of the Midline, as shown above, our motion back will cut up immediately into the B gap to lead block. There he may encounter the dive key, or the middle linebacker, or he may have clear sailing to the safety. It is important that he stay in the B gap though, trying to wedge whatever hole he can manage to create.
The guard and center are together responsible for the MLB. If the dive key crosses the guard’s face, he is committed to block him, so the center has the MLB by himself. If the MLB flows too far to the outside, then the center can get out to the Safety.
The quarterback hops back into the backside A gap and throws his hands back to the fullback, all the while watching the Dive Key (circled T.) If the Dive Key charges inside, our QB pulls and follows the A back though the B gap. If he sits, or slants away to the the B gap, the fullback gets the ball. If the Dive Key grabs our guard and holds him, or pulls him into the B gap, the quarterback follows the fullback.
The idea behind Midline Lead is that the center, playside guard, and lead A back will between them account for the dive key, the MLB, and the safety. If our quarterback makes the right read, this can be a very nice play against wide defenses.
Look for several other ways the Midline can be run coming to the the download section very soon.