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Diversifying The Spread-Run Offense: The Midline Option Is Back

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Just like the McRib.

Like the McRib, the midline option is constructed by large, sweaty men pouring perspiration into the shit sandwich they're about to feed your defense.

Diarrhea, meaty tooting that can clear a work space faster than spurious sexual harassment suits, and an inexplicable desire to greet people with "What it is, blood?" are just some of the side effects of each. And in Colorado's option game under Bill McCartney, the word Blood** was often capitalized.

** gang reference. See the movie Colors, which features Maria Conchita Alonso in a tube top

The midline option, once a staple of the wishbone - and I can recall Jamelle Holloway and Charles Thompson in particular abusing Texas on this read, following their FB fake up into the hole as our 5.1 40 linebackers flailed helplessly at their cocaine-fueled lithe limbs - is back with a vengeance as spread-run gurus seek diversity in their running games.

Smart Football nails it with a great breakdown on what it is and why it's being revitalized:

This tactic has been adopted by other teams as well, including Nebraska. The question is whether it will provide a sustained advantage or if only work to catch defenses off guard for a little while — time will tell. Certainly teams like Oregon have made a living on the play. And the rules for how you might teach the play are quite simple too: On the frontside, your defenders keep their normal zone rules. Your center and backside guard leave unblocked the first man heads up or backside of the center, while the backside guard and tackle block the backside defensive end and weakside linebacker. Thus the zone read where the defensive tackle, instead of the defensive end, is the read.

Why is this important?

For one thing, Nebraska will attack us with this on Saturday. Not the McRib. The midline. Nebraska is far too alabaster a place to embrace the McRib's synthetic faux rib-like semi-deliciousness. Frankly, Nebraskans struggle to discern the tangible difference between Robert Guillame and H. Rap Brown, and they find French's mustard spicy and Latin.

No, Nebraska will attack us with spread-run diversity, the kind of stuff that Chip Kelly and RichRod are doing at Oregon and Michigan that keep the running game functional, if not more deadly, when opposing defenses stack the line of scrimmage or play the scrape game with their LBs to shut down the traditional zone read.

It's also their answer to our own Kheeston Randall, should he impose his will on Nebraska's interior OL, exploiting their undersized center and Nebraska's massive line splits.

But you already knew about their formational diversity from reading my preview, right?

If you don't believe me, read Peter Bean's breakdown at BON. It is niiiice.

The midline option is also one of many retorts to the fan who suggests "stacking the box" as the all-purpose solution to halting a diverse running game. Where you place that extra defender is key and if that extra man is placed outside to bring numbers and leverage on the zone read, the most sophisticated run-spread offenses will simply key off of an interior DL, leaving him unblocked, scoot up inside like George Michael's trained tethered gerbil, and run free and clear with no safety to contend with.

Watch for it on Saturday and, when it happens, proclaim knowingly in a world-weary voice that the TD run (or the fumble, fingers crossed) was midline option. Your friends will hold you in awe and your children and spouse will respect you more.