3 Reasons to Run the Midline Option


The midline option is often forgotten in today’s days of the spread offense. The Zone read, the triple option, etc… all still thrive, even when the team is in the gun.

But what happened to the Midline option? There are a few exceptions, for instance, Oregon has been known to run it – must notably getting it blown up by Auburn’s defensive tackles in their national championship game a few years ago.

But unless you’re going up against first round picks with freakish like athleticism every play, midline option is still a good concept.

QB Midline Option Pull

Here’s 3 reasons you should run the midline option, no matter what offense you run.

Reason #1 to run the Midline Option

Make the Defensive Tackle Think

A lot of spread offenses are zone based. Even the ones that run counter-gap schemes, like Power-O and Trap, tend to give defensive tackles the same look on every run play.

midline option from auburn's look

Midline Option from one of Auburn’s Base Formations

For instance, the defensive tackle is always getting scooped, down blocked, or trapped. Then maybe he has to defend the screen or the pass.

midline option from the spread

No lead blocker here, but the play isn’t bad. Guard must know he’s got to work for that linebacker.

This means his job is easy. Midline option adds a new obstacle for him to defend. Yes, it’s still block down step down rules, but now when he does that he has to look and see if he’s got to wrong arm a blocker or if he needs to tackle a fullback. That takes eye discipline, reaction, and technique.

Reason #2 to run the Midline Option

Adds a New Playaction Threat

Defending the Midline option successfully involves a scrape exchange from the linebacker and defensive tackle. Well, if the inside linebacker does that, guess what he leaves wide open? The play action pass.

midline option play action

Protecting the midline option play action pass isn’t perfect – you’ll find a lot of different ways to do it, but if you have a defensive tackle who you know will tackle the fullback, your job just got a lot easier.

Now, that might scare you, a fullback on a defensive tackle. However, this pass happens quick, especially if you have tight end in the game.

That Mike linebacker is going to step up so he can defend the quarterback. He’s reading the gaps though, so as he sees his gap get cloudy with the defensive tackle, he’s going to step down hill and up into the hole. So the Quarterback, while his fake is important, it’s not pivotal that he puts himself in harms way.

His read is easy. He’s reading the Mike linebacker. If he steps up, he throws the tight end seam. If he manages to read the play well and drops back, that should open up the underneath routes – like the Texas concept you see below.

Reason #3 to run the Midline Option

The Least Understood Option Play

There is a lot of variations of midline. The midline iso, with the “pitchback” helping to lead up on the playside linebacker.

There’s the midline triple, where the pitchback is actually the pitchback running a triple option course.

You can also run the play from both the pistol and the gun, or under center of course. So you can disguise the plays however you want, which means less tendencies.