Tony DeMeo

The Triple Option Mesh from the Gun

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive either on the clinic circuit or by phone or email is about the Quarterback/Tailback mesh in the Gun Triple. Most of the concern revolves around the quick read and the aiming point for the tailback.

The first thing is DON’T OVERCOACH IT. Repeat; DON’T OVERCOACH IT.

When I put this offense together my number one rule was No Turnovers. I wanted ball security to be our number one priority. If you go back to my article on meaningful stats; the MOST meaningful stat is turnovers (+ 2 Turnover margin almost guarantees a win) so the Mesh is designed to #1 not lead to a turnover. The longer the ball is in the stomach, the greater the chance for a turnover. It is as simple as that. The longer the indecision by the Quarterback the greater the chance there is of a turnover. The closer the handoff key is to the dive, the greater chance he has to blow up the mesh and create a turnover. Our goal is to have an efficient read not a perfect read. When you look for perfect reads: the ball stays in the mesh too long and winds up on the ground.

The first ingredient of the mesh is the Quarterback’s thought process. The QB’s thought process is: “I’m going to give the ball EVERY Time UNLESS the Hand Off Key comes down hard and flat on the TB”. The definition of “Hard & Flat” is the HOK’s head comes across the torso of the dive back. If the HOK is blocked it is a PULL. “When in doubt – GIVE”. This decision must be made on your FIRST step! “Better Wrong than Long” When in doubt – GIVE.

The second ingredient is the Quarterback’s footwork. The QB has his feet slightly tighter than shoulder width. The first and most important thing he must do is CATCH THE SNAP. Ball security is the #1 priority. We practice snaps EVERY DAY. After he catches the snap, the quarterback merely pivots on his playside foot and puts the ball out for the diveback to run over. His eyes go directly to the HOK and he gives the ball to the diveback UNLESS that HOK flies down on the dive back, getting his head in front of the running back. If the QB sees the HOK is on this path, he SNAPS the ball to his heart and accelerates to the pitch key. If the HOK is blocked the Quarterback aborts the mesh and turns it into a double option. If the QB sees the HOK blocked, does not even mesh with the diveback, he just SNAPS the ball to his heart and is prepared to make a quick pitch.

Coaching points:

1. By pivoting and not stepping the QB actually brings the diveback away from the HOK. The pivot must be as quick as possible.
2. By bringing the diveback away from the HOK – the HOK must come harder and faster to actually take dive. This makes the read easier and enables the QB to make a efficient read on his first step.
3. If the HOK is blocked – there is no read – it becomes double option. But if the HOK work outside across the Tackle’s block – the QB ducks inside turning it into QB ISO.
4. Ball Security is our #1 priority and this process increases our ball security by taking the risk out of the read.

The third ingredient of the Triple Gun mesh is the diveback’s aiming point. The dive back must aim for the front side “A” gap. His target is the playside cheek of the center. It is better for him to be too tight than to wide. He is responsible for running over the ball. His first step is a little skip step to put him in line with “A” gap. His inside arm should be up with his thumb pointing down. The pocket should be as big as possible to give the QB room to make the mesh. By pointing the thumb down the pocket opens a little wider.

If the diveback gets the ball he reads “A” gap. If “A” gap is open – he hits it 100 MPH. If “A” gap is closed – he runs to daylight. If it is closed from the backside, he cuts back by sliding and gliding. The slide & glide is a subtle cut made with his shoulders square. We want him to be a north/south, downhill runner. We want him to “DRIVE FOR FIVE”.

If the ball is pulled, the diveback gets width and becomes a blocker. He blocks HOK to the playside Linebacker to the Safety.

If the Quarterback short-arms the mesh because the HOK is blocked; the diveback Wraps around the Tackle’s block and blocks Linebacker to Safety.
Coaching Points:

1. The diveback is a RUNNER or a BLOCKER never a faker. We always want the Tailback to become an extra blocker if the ball is pulled. This is one of the main advantages of The Gun Triple over the Zone Read.
2. The Tailback (Diveback) is a “B” gap to “B” gap runner. He “slides & glides” to daylight with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.
3. When getting down field as a blocker; he doesn’t have to chase a defender- the QB will be on his outside hip so the defender will come to him.
4. If the QB short arms him because the HOK is blocked and the HOK fights across the Tackles face – the Diveback is still looking for LB to Safety so he’ll duck inside the Tacles block turning into QB ISO on the run.

The advantages of this style of this style of mesh are:

1. Better ball security. Ball security is our #1 priority because it is a MEANINGFUL STAT – the most meaningful. To win games avoid turnovers.
2. Easier read for the QB, making him more effective at optioning the Pitch Key. And making him more efficient at moving the ball.
3. The Tailback/Diveback is more effective as a runner because getting the ball sooner enables him to make the back door cut or keep it playside. If you ride him into the line he cannot leave his track. He becomes a crease runner.
4. The Tailback/Diveback is more effectivre as a blocker. By pulling the ball sooner the TB can get width and become a blocker. This adds an extra blocker to the playside. This can be the difference between a 6 yard gain and a 60 yard gain.
5. The entire play is faster. The QB is not slowed down by staying in the mesh trying to “ride and decide”. While he’s riding and deciding the defense is running to the perimeter.
6. The Diveback’s path constricts the defense similar to the midline option. This shortens the flank and makes the QB more effective because he becomes a North/South runner making it near impossible for the Pitch Key to use feather technique.

The most important part of the mesh phase of the Gun Triple is REPS, REPS, REPS and more REPS. Drill the QB’s pivot every day, this is something that some coaches overlook. I’ll go through the entire drill progression in a later article and eventually on a DVD.