Why You Should Use This Mesh Drill For RPO Schemes

The majority of our run game includes an option component.  Part of our offensive philosophy is to “Protect the Defense”, which highlights the importance of maintaining possession of the football.  Also, we are always in search of taking advantage of specific defensive players by putting them in Run/Pass conflict.  The Mesh Drill has been critical in helping us achieve success in the area of ball security and gaining an understanding of which defender is in conflict for each RPO concept.

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The Mesh Drill will involve only the QB’s and RB’s at the base level.  Later we add TE/H’s and Receivers as schemes become more complex.  We prefer a high number of repetitions are in our practices.  The drill will allow us to focus on the QB/RB mesh and each player’s “Reads”.  We will work the Mesh Drill for 5 to 10 minutes per practice depending on the following variables:

  • Time of year (pre-season vs in-season)
  • Day of the week (more time spent early in the week)
  • Game plan (play selection for the week)
  • Number of players involved in the drill (TE/H’s and/or Receivers)

Base Run Reads

We introduce the Mesh Drill by just limiting it to our base runs only.  Spacing is imperative in this drill.  Therefore, we use an “Offensive Line Strip” to maintain consistent alignment and landmarks for the players involved.  To keep a quick pace, the Quarterbacks will rotate from Center to Quarterback to Defensive End to out.  The Running Backs will rotate from Running Back to Linebacker to out.  If we have a TE/H involved, he will rotate from TE/H to Safety or Outside Linebacker to out.  See below for position descriptions for the drill:

  • Quarterback
    • Center – snaps the ball and gives a read to the RB by emulating the movement of a DT.
    • Quarterback – execute the called offensive play.
    • Defensive End – give the QB a give or keep read emulating the week’s opponent.
  • Running Back
    • Running Back – execute the called offensive play.
    • Linebacker – give the RB a read forcing him to use an escape skill.
  • TE/H
    • TE/H – execute the called offensive play.
    • Outside Linebacker – plays defensive force and gives the TE/H a person to fit up on.

Once the players master the drill, to maximize reps, we will run two drills at the same time facing one another.  We will work every run play in this drill with the main focus on option plays.  Below are some examples of our Inside Zone concepts:

Inside Zone Layout

Positions Involve:
  • Quarterback
  • Running Back
Coaching Points:
  • RB’s aim point is the inside leg of the play side Guard (same on all inside zone plays).
  • QB’s first step is with his read side foot straight ahead, pivoting to a 45-degree angle on his second step facing the read side DE (same on all inside zone plays).
  • QB’s playing DE must understand and imitate the play of the current week’s opponent.
  • If QB makes a poor pull read, he will make a strong outside fake on the DE and cut up vertically.

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TE/H Read Layout

Positions Involve:
  • Quarterback
  • Running Back
  • Tight End/H
Coaching Points:
  • RB will adjust pace depending on the TE/H’s speed and his own.
  • TE/H makes his decision to bypass the DE to the next level based on the angle of the DE’s shoulders and his horizontal movement.
  • If QB pulls the ball he will follow the outside hip of the TE/H reacting to his block on the next outside defender.

Inside Zone/Bubble (Triple) Layout

Positions Involve:
  • Quarterback
  • Running Back
  • Slot
  • Outside Receiver
Coaching Points:
  • RB’s aim point is the inside leg of the play side Guard (same on all inside zone plays).
  • QB’s first step is with his read side foot straight ahead, pivoting to a 45-degree angle on his second step facing the read side DE (same on all inside zone plays). If the DE gives a keep read, the QB attacks the inside shoulder of the pitch key.
  • QB’s playing DE must understand and imitate the play of the current week’s opponent.
  • QB playing the OLB must either attack the ball carrying QB or work out to the Slot running bubble.
  • Slot receiver runs flat down the line of scrimmage on his bubble path.
  • X block for the bubble screen.

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Run-Pass Option Reads

Once players master all our base runs, we will move to our more complex RPO Mesh Drill, which will include Tight Ends and/or Receivers.  Along with working our base run exchanges, the drill will help our players understand the special relationship needed between one another and which defenders are in Run/Pass conflict.  Below are some examples of how we work our RPO concepts:

Inside Zone/Post Layout

Positions Involve:
  • Quarterback
  • Running Back
  • Outside Receiver
Coaching Points:
  • RB’s aim point is the inside leg of the play side Guard (same on all inside zone plays).
  • QB’s first step is with his read side foot straight ahead, pivoting to a 45-degree angle on his second step facing the read side Safety. If the Safety moves down for run responsibilities he will set his feet and throw the Post.  If the Safety drops to cover pass the QB will hand the ball off.
  • QB’s playing Safety must understand and imitate the play of the current week’s opponent.
  • If QB makes a poor Post read, he will follow the Running Back into the line of scrimmage.

Inside Zone/Pop Layout

Positions Involve:
  • Quarterback
  • Running Back
  • Tight End/H
Coaching Points:
  • RB will now run an outside zone path.
  • QB will execute his outside zone footwork keeping his eye on his read key. If the LB attacks the run play, the QB will set his feet and quickly throw to the TE.  If the LB stays in place, the QB will hand the ball off.
  • QB’s playing LB must understand and imitate the play of the current week’s opponent.
  • If QB makes a poor pass read, he will again follow the Running Back on his outside zone path. 

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Conclusion:

Whether you use the Mesh Drill during pre-practice or during practice, it is time well spent.  Our goal is for the QB/RB mesh and footwork to become second nature, master the QB/RB exchange, and know which defender is in Run/Pass conflict.  Using the Mesh Drill has helped us execute at a high level and “Protect the Defense”.

Jim Good joined the Bulldog’s coaching staff in 2011. Good expanded his duties by adding the title of Associate Head Coach in 2012. Good arrived at Redlands after a four-year stint as the head coach at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. while overseeing the squad, he led the Pipers to their best finish since the 1997 season while increasing their roster size by 30 players. In addition, Good brings experience from his time at Texas Lutheran University, Illinois College, and Linfield College (OR).


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