By Mike Kuchar with Brian Callahan
Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach
University of Minnesota
The two-surface mid zone continues to be a staple in Minnesota’s menu for good reason- it had the back in Mo Ibrahim who understood how to run it- and when the Gophers build its 12/13 “Elephant” personnel groupings, defenses across the Big 10 had to over shift their structure to account for it.
So, for run game coordinator/offensive line coach Brian Callahan the answer was simple: create a mid-zone concept to exploit the bubble of the defense. Teams like Penn State, Illinois and Iowa all majored in Under front reductions, so the scheme could easily exploit a three for three matchup to the two-surface.
It became the bread-and-butter concept for Coach Callahan and the offensive staff in Minnesota. Not only was it efficient, but it was explosive. It was generally mixed with tight zone from the same grouping, which we worked with Coach Callahan on previously (insert link).
Because of this, the concept generated explosive runs that hit to the front side. In fact, five different running backs ran for over 100 yards in a game in ’22 and the majority of them came in these mid-zone concepts.
We’re going to take a look at how programs like the University of Minnesota are able to protect the play side Tackle from penetration in the mid zone and how you can use these same tools to heighten the efficiency of the concept in your system.