MID TRIPLE PART 3: 4-3/6-1 DEFENSE
I’ve got a new blog post for you…finally. Today we’re going to go over the Mid Triple play versus the 4-3 or 6-1 Defense. Much like the 50 defense, this is a good play against this front when you’re getting a lot of 2 high safety looks where they’re rolling the safeties with our motion. I also really like that we can gameplan or formation this call to get it run away from the 3 tech side. We’ve run it at a 3 tech before, but you have to get a 2 for 1 somewhere or you’re going to have to add a tag to ensure you don’t get your pitch blown up.
We run this play as a “counter” to Inside Veer and to take advantage of defensive flow, especially with Safety rotation. It is also a good way to slow down gap exchange stunts (EZ and 3-2 exchanges).
WHEN TO RUN IT:
Safeties are rotating with motion and out leveraging you, or the OLB’s are leveraging you and safeties are inserting (3-2 exchange).
Struggling to block playside Safety because he’s rolling down so hard with motion and the backside Safety is rolling over the top to stop the Play Action.
The MIKE is scraping with motion/veer action and they’re canceling out the inside gaps (A/B) with DL stunts or superior players.
We can run this play from just about every formation, but we are looking to run it away from the 3 tech generally against this front. We will not usually run it to a 3 man surface (Heavy formation or TE formation), but we can use the 3 man surface to get the defense to declare the 3 tech to that side usually and/or we can get them to roll Cover 3 that way. Over and Trips formations will get them to set the 3 tech to a specific side. This will also sometimes cause them to roll to Cover 3, or walk a LB out of the box. When they do this, we’ve gained a numbers advantage somewhere. Flex or Double Flex is another formation option if we want to employ a “Swap” tag to put the WR on #2.
- SPREAD: We will generally check away from the 3 tech side.
- FLEX: This formation is good because you can change up your perimeter blocking with a couple of TAGS (see below). It is also good because you can run a lot of other complimentary plays from this formation.
- OVER: This is my favorite way to run this play against this front. They will usually put the 3 tech to the Over side. They will also usually adjust their coverage as well, either roll Cover 3 or at least pull the rope on their Safeties and cheat to the Over side.
- TRIPS: This is another good formation against this front. The defense might continue to put the 3 tech to the Trips side and roll Cover 3. If they do that, then we will continue to run Mid Triple “out the back” away from the Trips. Sometimes, they might play an Under front (Shade-5 to the Trips side and 3 tech away). If they do, we can still run the play to the Trips. We just have to make an adjustment for our A-back motion. The easiest is to let the closest A-back “twirl” motion to get to pitch relationship. We could also run Mid Double or regular Inside Veer to the Trips side.
- HEAVY: We can sometimes gain some space to the Heavy side to run Mid Double and Zone Dive. For Mid Triple though, we will continue to run it to the nub side in most cases.
FLOW: One tag that we haven’t talked about much is a tag we use to get the playside A-back (PSA) to go in pitch motion away from the play before the snap. We’ve called it a lot of things, FLY, FLOW or OPPOSITE. Again, this tag tells the PSA to go in Pitch motion away from the play pre-snap. This motion works really well against 2 high Safety looks where they attack our motion and roll coverage. This tag works great for Mid Triple because our backside A-back (BSA) can still get in pitch relationship by leaving at the snap. The PSA will block #3 simply by going in motion and causing him to rotate to the other side of the formation. Normally we will tell our PST to outside release when he hears that tag because we know that will probably be able to get upfield and clean up either the Mike or the PS Safety once they flow back to the ball. The cutups will show an example. I like this tag best out of Spread because it will leave a WR to block the CB. We’ve done it out of OVER but the CB generally won’t rotate with the motion and usually the Safety is already pulled by the OVER formation so we like to keep the PSA to block the Force player (CB) out of OVER.
SWAP: We can also run the SWAP tag and SWITCH tag out of Flex or Double Flex formations. The SWAP tag puts the WR on #2 and then we would either wrap the PSA around for the CB or send the PSA across the formation in motion to get the secondary to motion a guy out of position. We really will only use the SWAP tag if #2 is playing off the LOS and can be easily blocked by the WR.
SWITCH: The SWITCH tag is also usually run out of Flex formation. We will use that when the CB is playing wide outside of the WR and #2 is on the LOS (6-1). The WR will struggle to block the CB’s outside number, so we will send him to Playside safety. The PSA will wrap and block the CB, who will probably be the Force player.
LOOP/SEAL: If you do run the play to the 3 tech DT, then you will obviously read the 3 tech as #1. As you move out, that’s where the problem arises. You’ve 2 more defenders in close proximity, the DE and the Stack LB. One of them will become #2 and we’ll still have an extra defender to deal with. The Safety, or Force player will be blocked by the PSA. We need to get a 2 for 1 somewhere with the DT, DE and Stack LB. We need 2 to take Dive or 2 to take QB. One way we try to account for this is to tag LOOP/SEAL and that tells the PST to wide release and block whatever flows out to him. You’re assuming a few things here. First, you’re assuming that the PSG should be able to block the Mike if he’s got a 3 tech over him. You’re also assuming that the ball will probably get pitched and that the Stack LB or DE will be late in flowing out, allowing the PST to establish position on whichever defender is the first threat. Overall, I’m not a huge fan of the play to a 3 tech. It’s worked out okay at times, but we usually tell our QB to lean towards a GIVE UNLESS approach against that look or simply check the play.
- CENTER/PSG – DO NOT DOUBLE THE SHADE!!!! The Shade will generally step with the Center. The Center has to step to backside A gap. We teach him almost a Veer technique where he’ll work tight thru the Shade and then block the Mike. We are trying to make the whole thing look like a SCOOP block. If the Shade feels a double team then he’ll hunker down and clog everything up. The Shade is taught to move with his gap, so the Center is the guy that gets him moving (with his step to backside A gap) and the PSG is the guy that keeps him moving (with the block). The PSG knows it’s a DOWN block all the way. The Center is the setup man.
- PST – I have the PST outside release against this front. If we do that, then normally it will force a gap exchange or EZ stunt (Stack LB to B gap and DE to C gap). I’ve found that it’s an easier read for the QB this way. If the QB gives the ball, the B-back usually doesn’t get blasted by the Stack LB. If we pull the ball, it’s definitely easier for the QB to pitch off the DE than the Stack LB. The DE is usually flat footed when we do it because he’s stepping with our PST and reading. If we release our PST inside, then we’ll force the gap exchange the other way (DE on B gap and Stack LB will fit C gap off DE’s butt). That can make the pitch scary if the QB doesn’t make the stack LB commit to QB. If the QB pitches too early the Stack LB can just go right to pitch on the way through C gap.
- PSA – We usually don’t worry about counting to #3 on this play. The PSA will be responsible for an area, not a specific person. The PSA must block what shows after 5 steps (flat defender). If nothing is there, he will keep circling.
- BSA – Pitch path is critical on this play. The BSA must sprint thru the hand of the B-back towards a point 5 yards deep behind the PST. The BSA must be in the QB’s vision once the QB comes off the mesh. If the BSA gets the ball, he must sprint towards the sideline. Do not turn upfield, unless the PSA is kicking out the flat defender.
- QB – Clear the cylinder. Do not attack #1 & #2. Be patient and suck the defenders in. The QB must learn how to read the combination if the defenders are stacked. The QB can’t read the DE and then read the LB. He’s got to read them at the same time. You’ve got to simulate the stunts that can happen and drill the QB on what they look like so he can recognize them on the fly and make the right decision.
- B-Back – The B must go playside if he gets the ball and cut off the PST’s block. At times, it might look like there’s a hole backside, but it’s a mistake to go back there. The OL is trying to move defenders in that direction, so you’re going to get maybe 2 yards back there. If the B-back doesn’t get the ball, he must go backside to bring the Read key inside and it also helps to hold the ILB’s.
- BSG – Be aware for 3 tech slanting inside. The BSG cannot get beat inside by the 3 tech DT.
- 3-2 EXCHANGES – In instances where we get 3-2 Exchange (#2 goes outside and #3 fills inside for QB), the PSA and QB must recognize what’s going on. The PSA must block #2 (who becomes the new #3). The QB will see #2 flow outside and will come off the mesh thinking Keep. The QB will then see #3 flying downhill and will pitch off of him (the new #2).
- CB SPIKE – If they spike CB, our PSWR and PSA basically SWITCH block. The WR bends off the butt of the CB or thru the area he vacated and continues to the Safety. The PSA has to get his eyes moving once he comes out of the TWIRL and begins his ARC. He’s got to check outside-in. If he does this, he’ll see the CB spike and be able to kick or hook the CB, depending upon how the CB reacts.