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navy1By Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

In this case, we will present our research on some of the varying blocking techniques coaches are using to block the midline and veer concepts. Find out how coaches around the country are tweaking their blocking schemes to increase production.

By Mike Kuchar - @MikeKKuchar

Senior Research Manager

X&O Labs


 Insiders Members:  Click here to log in and see the complete Case 2 of the Option Special Report. 



In this case, we will present our research on some of the varying blocking techniques coaches are using to block the midline and veer concepts.  Like many other option principles, the core roots of the blocking system are sacred and we’ve found the majority of coaches still abide by those rules.  But as the system continues to develop, there is a faction of coaches still finding ways to tweak some blocking assignments to get the most production out of the offense.  It was our intent to find those coaches through our research and present what they are doing differently.

But before we do that, we felt it was important to convey the grass roots of the system and there is no better way to do that than to give attribution to the Naval Academy, one of the forefathers of the option offense.  The Naval Academy started its option premise on a count system, one that basically entails reading number one and pitching off number two.  For all intents and purposes, those numbers can change based on the scheme- midline or veer. 

In the midline option, those numbers are as follows:

Number 1- The first level defender in the play side B gap.  Or as some coaches referenced it, the down lineman touching the Guard.

Number 2- The first or second level defensive player outside of number one. 

Now, truth be told, the midline scheme is usually a double option concept.  The facts is 55.8 percent of coaches rarely or never use the pitch phase in midline option.  Only 35.2 percent of coaches will use it sparingly.  But we have found coaches that do utilize a midline triple concept and we will present their ideas later on in this case. 

In the veer or triple option concept, the numbering system is as follows:

Number 1- The first level defender in the play side C gap or as some coaches referenced it, the down lineman touching the Tackle.  

Number 2- The first or second level defender outside of number one.

Of course, those numbers can change based on defensive structure.  But if we’re talking about grass roots here, the following is the count system Navy used (and still uses today) in its option system.  Below is an example of the count system, straight from Paul Johnson's playbook, on how Georgia Tech identifies several different defensive structures.













As mentioned previously, this can be altered based on game plan and personnel.  We will present how some coaches are manipulating the system to their advantage later on in the report.  For example, some coaches prefer to run midline to a 2i or 2 technique (which would be an A gap defender, not a B gap defender) and some coaches prefer to run inside veer to a 3-technique (which would be a B gap defender, not a C gap defender). 


Offensive Line Blocking Foundation

Regardless of the splits coaches use along their front, it’s essential to understand the blocking schemes associated with veer and option concepts.  This area of the study we found to be of high interest- was coaches teaching gap blocking concepts, man blocking concepts or zone blocking concepts to their front?  In its purest sense, the veer option concept is designed to read the C gap play side defender and block everything back away from him.  Consider a typical veer concept against a four down front (Diagram 6) and a three down front (Diagram 7).  



In this situation, the front side of the line is basically gap blocking away from the read key while the back side of the line is scoop blocking.  One of the most generic ways to block the triple option is what Lou Cella, a 19-year coaching veteran and the director and founder of triple option football academy (http://tripleoptionfootball.com), classified within the following rules: 

  • The play side Tackle veers to the outside as a default.  If he gets an Ace call from the Center or Guard (double team) he veers to the inside. 
  • The play side Guard’s rule is base to ace.  He will base block unless there is a 1, 2i or a 2 technique.   If that’s the case, he and the Center will double team that player (Ace)
  • The Center’s rule is veer to ace.  He will veer to the play side unless there is a one, 2i or two technique.  If that’s the case, he and the Guard will Ace that player.
  • The backside Guard and Tackle will scoop.  The Guard scoops through the crotch of the Center, the Tackle scoops through the crotch of the Guard.

To see video of the Veer blocking scheme against Even Fronts, click on the link below:

To see video of the Veer blocking scheme against Odd Fronts, click on the link below:


However, pure midline option concepts are more centered on a man blocking principle where lineman are responsible for a particular defender.  Consider a typical midline concept against an even front (Diagram 8). 


To see video of the Midline blocking scheme against Even fronts, click on the link below:

Another brand of thinking revolves around zone blocking the front, which is more common among Pistol offenses.  We’ve found that there are many coaches who are finding ways to integrate both zone read and veer (or what some are calling zeer read) into their offense because they are so similar in structure.  When you look at a zeer read concept against a four down front (Diagram 9) the blocking structure is similar in that the flow is going away from the read.  The only thing that is different is the footwork of the line.  Instead of coming off the ball on an angle, they are working flat down the line of scrimmage.   Walt Currie, the head coach at Brick Memorial High School (NJ) carries both schemes, because of the threat of the backside defensive end running down the play.  Of course, he would only use the Zeer read out of Pistol alignments.  “We had trouble with the backside defensive end crashing down to get in on tackles when we gapped it (Diagram 10),” said Currie.  So, now we zone it to him and just read the backside C gap player.  The QB opens the same way.”



Instead of teaching blocking scheme, Lou Cella teaches his coaches and players more about the individual blocks in the option game.    As mentioned in Case 1, Cella is an option purest who believes in being under Center because of the possibility of scoop blocking backside, which he feels is essential to the play.  He teaches the scoop technique with four major points:

  1. Open at 90 degrees (which is much flatter than typical scoop schemes)
  2. Run past the threat in your gap.
  3. Once you are pas the treat in your gap, dip outside hand down, step forward with your inside foot and vertically crash.
  4. If no threat, touch the adjacent offensive lineman, turn up, and wall off any defender at the second or third level with your outside hand.  On contact, punch through the inside breastplate of the crosser and pound your arches through the echo of the whistle. 


A veer inside release is utilized when the B gap is open (not occupied by a first level defender) or as Cella puts it when a double team with the Center and Guard occurs.  It’s also done on Midline Triple option.  Cella stresses “getting the outside palm on the ground with the second step” on the inside release.  Often times, this Tackle can work to the safety if the linebackers flow play side.  His teaching points are below:



In double option concepts such as midline, that play side Tackle is responsible for the defensive end.  In this case, he’ll execute a fan block by stepping straight up the field with his play side foot and getting his heels past the heels of the outside defender.   Cella’s teaching points for this block are below:



Finally, Cella breaks down his “Ace” block or double team block with Center and Guard against a 2i technique on veer option and against a zero technique or 2 technique below.  



By specifying each of these blocking assignments into those specific techniques, the option game can be taught in concepts so that the entire offensive line operates the same way.  “It’s time tested that you do it the same every time,” Cella told us.  “The entire process of the offense is to eliminate any blocking outside the Guard.  The QB is responsible for the 3 and 5 technique.”


Taking Advantage of Defensive Personnel

Of course, one of the benefits of using an option scheme is the opportunity to not block dominant defensive players that can be destructive.  Many a famous option coach has muttered the line, “If you can’t block ‘em, option him.”  So now, coaches are finding ways to option the defense’s best player and are doing so regardless of where they line up.  This was interesting to us, because it does break the traditional rules of the option scheme where one player is almost certainly the read on every snap.  Thanks to programs like Oregon University and Gus Malzahn’s system at Auburn University, teams are declaring who that read is each game, or perhaps even each snap.  “If the defensive end is the better player we will manipulate it to read him,” said Derek Landry.  “If they have a better tackle, we’ll read the Tackle. We read linebackers as well. Depends on who we feel is the better player for the other team.  It slows those players down.”

In Landry’s system, he will use tag words to identify to the quarterback who the read is.    “We would use the number the players and build it into the cadence,” Landry told us.  “We would call something like ‘21, 22, 21 Midline.’  The number would take care of whom we were leaving unblocked.  The offensive line would zone block and leave that player alone.  The backside would be a man concept; play side would be a stretch zone concept.   One of those concepts was a midline with jet sweep action that Landry built into his system.   “We would take our fastest player and run jet sweep with him,” said Landry.   Once we see teams flowing hard with the jet sweep action we’d tell everyone from the Center play side to block it like jet sweep.  The back side Guard and Tackle would seal everything away and we’d leave the one-technique unblocked.  We would tell our QB to read him.  We would just pull it and replace him once he flowed.  We probably only ran it 5-10 times per game.  If we had teams cheating us, we’d hit them to keep them honest.”


Blocking the Perimeter

In most pure option schemes, at least the way in which Navy runs it, the play side receiver will block the corner in three deep and the near safety in two deep coverages.  The play side halfback  (or A-back) will block run support- which is number three in the count.  This could be a deep safety in cover four or a corner in cover two.  We’ve found that coaches are varying how they teaching to block on the perimeter.  On day one of fall camp, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson tells his A-backs to block number three.  He’ll count from the play side Tackle out.  He counts one, two and blocks number three- save for a rolled up corner which Johnson says he’ll rarely block.   

General Teaching Concepts

Editor’s Note:  Please note that all diagrams are drawn up in a flexbone formation format and are focused just on half-field reads.

Near Deep Defender Concept

With all the pre-snap and post-snap defensive movement, we understand that training those wide receivers and play side A backs who to identify and block could be difficult.  This is why many coaches are using trigger words like “near deep defender” when referring to blocking arrangements.  “The receiver is responsible for near deep defender,” said Lou Cella.  “ He is responsible for the defensive back that drops to a zone to his side.  In Quarters coverage, there are two defenders playing zone to that side.  The near deep defender refers to the player that is nearest to that receiver.   According to Cella, the challenge lies in training the play side A back whom to block, not so much the receiver.  “The A back must know number 3 in the count.  This is a constant issue- coaches are not willing to ingrain who this player is.  You have to identify number three.”



What You're Missing:

Join XandOLabs.com exclusive Insiders program and gain full access to the entire Option Special Report including:  

  • The varying line splits coaches are using in the veer and midline option game and why bigger is not always better.
  • Varying blocking schemes in the veer option and the gap scheme Tony DeMeo used while at the University of Charleston.
  • Analysis of back side blocking including the three levels of scoop blocking and the two specific drills the Naval Academy uses to teach this block progression.
  • Protocols of checking the veer and midline schemes based on defensive structure and personnel.
  • The different concepts coaches are using to run midline schemes against odd fronts including the “Roger” variation, “Slice” variation and “Midline Pin” concepts.
  • Other variations of midline concepts to take advantage of defensive personnel including first level reads like Jet Midline and second level read concepts.
  • Perimeter blocking tags on veer and midline option concepts such as the “automatic” adjustment used against Robber safeties, the cross concept used against squat corners, the shark concept used against overhang defenders and the double crack concept to get ball pitched on the perimeter quicker.
  • Plus game film on all these concepts.

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It was our intent in this case to present the various ways in which offenses will alter its blocking schemes based on defensive structure and personnel.  As detailed earlier, one of the advantages of option concepts is not having to block defenders that are difficult to block, and in turn, blocking those defenders that are easier to block.   




Want to read the rest of the Veer/Midline Special Report?  Click on the links below to visit each individual case:

Veer/Midline Case 1: QB Footwork and Mesh

Veer/Midline Case 2: Interior / Exterior Blocking

Veer/Midline Case 3: Formationing the Defense in the Option Game





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