Chad Masters – Tolton Catholic High School
Chad Masters – Head Football Coach / Offensive Coordinator
Fr. Tolton Catholic High School (Columbia, MO)
Blazer Air Raid Mesh Concept
At Fr. Tolton Catholic high school, we believe in spreading the ball around the field with our passing game. As a program we believe that this helps make us successful and competitive in all games that we play. Our offense is a spread formation based offense that has roots in the Air Raid offense created and advanced by influences such as Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, Chris Hatcher, Tony Franklin, and many others. In the 2017 season we threw the ball 62% of the time for over 2,800 yards. We were able to get the ball into the hands of multiple receivers and running backs in all pass zones on the field, short, medium and long. We believe that this offense helps us develop an attack that is versatile, simple, and effective in moving the ball down the field. One of the main concepts that we employ within our passing attack is the “Mesh Concept.”
The Mesh Concept can be run out of any formation, and features at least 4 receivers involved in all levels of pass zones, with the possibility of adding a 5th receiver depending upon the protection scheme. You can throw it out of a drop back by the quarterback or utilize play action. The concept can be used against any coverage, and any area of the field, with use in the red zone and goal line being particularly effective. The concept has simple rules for each receiver and we can tag any receiver within the concept for the crossing route (basis of the mesh), as well as any other receiver within the concept to run something different. The options and variations within this one concept are numerous and can be specific to certain types of defenses and skill players.
We always begin the teaching of the “Mesh Concept” from a 2×2 formation. This is our base formation and the simplest of formations to begin the teaching of the concept. It is imperative that each receiver understands the concept and routes specific to it, as it is not position specific (learn one route), but dependent on formation and location of receiver. All receivers should be interchangeable. It is important that they understand and memorize the concept rather than a specific route. We also teach the concept initially with the running back involved in the protection (60 protection), prior to teaching the running back to release as a 5th receiver. We will tag a receiver in our call to let the receivers and quarterback know who is running the crossing route that sets the “mesh,” and all other routes within the concept will be based off of this tag. For instance, our play call for us would be “Doubles 60 H Mesh.” Doubles is the formation, 60 the pass protection scheme with the running back blocking in the scheme, H is the receiver tagged within the mesh concept. From that play call our receivers and all other within the offense will know what to execute.
Mesh concept routes for (Doubles 60 H Mesh):
● Tagged receiver: H is the tagged receiver within this concept. The H receiver will run a crossing route across the field. If the defense is in a zone coverage, then he will sit in the zone opening right outside of the offensive tackle away from the side he is crossing from. If it is man coverage then the receiver will continue to run from the man coverage defender. Since H is the tagged receiver, he will “set the mesh” by crossing exactly at a point 6 yards over the top of the center. He will rub shoulders with the opposite receiver and be “high” or on top of that receiver. The tagged receiver is in charge of setting the depth at 6 yards.
● First receiver opposite of the tagged receiver: in this play example, the Z receiver is the first receiver opposite of the H receiver (tagged receiver). The Z receiver will run a crossing route across the field. If the defense is in a zone coverage, then he will sit in the zone opening right outside of the offensive tackle away from the side he is crossing from. If it is man coverage then the receiver will continue to run from the man coverage defender. Since Z is the first receiver opposite of the tagged receiver (H), he will cross underneath the H at 6 yards, rubbing shoulders with the opposite crossing route over the top of the center. It is the responsibility of the Z to find the H and be as close to him as possible. The H sets the mesh, the Z finds the H.
● First receiver closest to the tagged receiver (adjacent): In this play example the Y receiver is the first receiver closest, or adjacent, to the tagged receiver of H. This receiver will run a “middle route” within the mesh concept. The Y will dive release inside and aim for a point 12 yards over the top of the center and sit facing the quarterback. As the two crossing routes begin to separate the defense, this receiver will be sitting in the middle as an option once the crossing routes clear out the underneath. The Y should be in between the LB and Safety levels of the defense looking to catch the ball.
● Furthest receiver from the tagged receiver: In this play example the X receiver is the furthest receiver from the tagged receiver. This receiver is the quarterbacks pre-snap vertical threat read. The X will run either a Corner route or a post route, which can be decided in game planning or between the receiver and the quarterback pre-snap. If the quarterback thinks that this is a matchup or a “gift” then he will take the shot on the vertical route. If the pre-snap read is not favorable then the quarterback will proceed through the progression of the other receivers. This is our vertical “shot” route within the concept.
● Quarterback: In this play, after the quarterback receives the snap, he will either execute a 3 step drop (gun), a 5 step drop (under center), or play action with the running back. The read progression for the quarterback will be “Cross, Park, Middle.” The “Cross” read route will be the tagged receiver. He will look to this receiver first. If that receiver is covered, or it is cloudy, he will progress to the “Park” route. The “Park” route is the first receiver opposite the tagged receiver. If that receiver is covered or the read is cloudy then he will progress to the “Middle” route. The “Middle” route is the first receiver closest/adjacent to the tagged receiver. For the play “Doubles 60 H Mesh” the read progression for “Cross, Park, Middle” would be “H, Z, Y.”
“Mesh Concept” with other tagged receivers
You can also tag different receivers within the concept using the same rules:
The “mesh concept” is a simple, yet effective, route concept that can attack any defense out of any formation, in any area of the field. It has consistent rules that can be learned by all receivers and creates an interchangeable lineup of skill players. It is the basis of what we do in our offensive attack and creates many openings and opportunities to distribute the ball. The reads are simple, and attacks all pass zones on the field. It is a play that has multiple plays within it, and can be varied in many ways. Its simplicity and effectiveness makes it a back bone of an aerial attack.