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By Dan Ellis Head Football Coach W.C. East High School

Researcher’s Note: This is the third report in X&O Labs’ QB Runs Series by Dan Ellis.  Here are the links to Coach Ellis' previous two reports documenting his most effective QB runs: The QB Power Read and The QB Trap Off Jet Action

We are a shotgun, fast pace, no-huddle offense with a zone scheme (and we also will add pistol in as well). This allows us to take advantage of our athleticism and numbers at the skill positions and uses our supposed weakness – smaller, more athletic lineman – to our advantage.

With our offense, our QB must be able to run the football and be a weapon that the defense must account for. He does not need to be a 1,000 yard rusher; he just needs to keep the defense honest with his feet. One of our key plays for our quarterback is the QB Midline off of our outside zone scheme.

First, with our zone scheme, we teach our linemen to work either vertical push or horizontal push.  We do not combo zone like some teams.  That means that we work a lot of horizontal movement up front.  As a simplified point of reference, we teach our linemen to step laterally to their gap and work to overtake the next defensive linemen.  If they are unable to overtake on their first three steps, they move up to the LB level.  We do not get engaged and combo the down linemen.  We stress the horizontal movement. Once we start getting the defense to move horizontally and thinking of stopping the outside zone, we hit them with our QB midline.

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Here are our rules:

  • PST: Zone to call
  • PSG: Zone to call
  • C: Zone to call
  • BSG: Avoid DT (either 1 or 3) and work to LB
  • BST: Base defensive end
  • QB: Read the back-side DT.  If he gets up field in anyway, hand the ball off to TB.  If he attacks laterally or the TB, QB pulls and replaces.

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Against a base 4-4, this is the way we would block it (diagram 1).  We prefer to run it and read the 3-tech if we can.  We’ll try to manipulate the defense by formation in order to get the look we like.  However, the play works well against a 1-tech as well.

Against an odd front (3-4 or 3-3 stack) we would leave the nose unblocked (diagram 2).  Against an odd defense, we really like this play because it often will put the strongest defensive linemen, the nose, into a bind.  It also gives us an extra lineman to focus on the multitude of stunts and blitzes you often see from an odd front defense.   This way we do not need to place a body on the nose, we bypass him to get to the LB’s.

This play can also be used with jet motion.  We use jet motion often.  We run jet sweep, but we actually use the motion more than we’ll actually run the play.  Make teams respect the motion and make them account for it, all while running a solid play behind it (diagram 3).

This play has been tremendous for us and forces the defense to play solid and fundamentally sound.  But one of the key additional reasons we continue to run it is because it allows us to account for an outstanding defensive linemen.  During weeks that we face an outstanding defensive lineman, we try to use multiple schemes to keep him off balance – screens, option, zone read, etc.  This play, and variations of it, allows us to account for that type of defensive linemen and allows us to give him one more thing to prepare for.

Conclusion: The midline read off of our outside zone is a tremendous complement to zone offense.  Playing in our fast paced no huddle offense, we move fast and play fast.  This play allows us one more advantage of keeping the defense on its toes, slowing it down and ensuring that we are utilizing all of our weapons on offense.

Questions or Comments? Coach Dan Ellis agreed to answer your questions and reply to your comments.  Please post your questions or comments in the "Comments" section below and Coach Ellis will respond shortly.

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