This is a defensive formation that puts three men on the defensive line and four linebackers behind them. The Linemen involved in this scheme are two defensive ends and one nose tackle in the middle. The linebackers are two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers.
This is a defensive formation that puts four men on the defensive Line, two Linebackers behind them and moves a fifth player, called the nickel back, to the defensive backfield. With five defensive backs in deep coverage, this formation emphasizes stopping the pass and relies on just six men in the box to stop the running game.
This is a defensive formation that puts four men on the defensive line and three linebackers behind them. It is the most common and popular defensive formation used. The Linemen involved in this scheme are two defensive ends and two defensive tackles. The linebackers are two outside linebackers and one middle linebacker.
This takes place at the line of scrimmage when the quarterback changes the play last minute and shouts out commands. He does this because he sees something from the way the defense is lining up that indicates that they play they called in the huddle will not work or there is a better opportunity.
This is the area of the football field behind the Offensive Line where a maximum of four (4) offensive players can stand on any given play. It is in the opposite direction that the ball is moving in.
These football players include the Running Backs and all of the different names for them, including halfback, tailback, etc. Their primary function is to run with the ball but they will also catch passes. The fullback will run with the ball also, but more importantly, he has a major role in blocking.
This is when the defense charges directly for the passer (the quarterback) as soon as the ball is snapped. In order to execute this play and get through the blockers ont he offense, the defense will rush more players than the offense has accounted for. From an offensive point of view, this means there are more men for them to block than usual and it crowds the space around the quarterback, which can lead to a sack. However, the risk the defense takes is that while they are occupied with getting to the quarterback, by putting more players in that direction, it means they have less players downfield, which will give the recievers more of an opportunity to get open to catch the ball or to run with it once he has caught the pass. The linebackers are the defensive players usually involved in a Blitz, but it can also be the defensive backs (safeties and cornerbacks). Where they are positioned before the snap can be misleading as some players only “show blitz” when they are bluffing.
Block in the Back:
An illegal Block in the Back involves contact against an opponent (other than the ball carrier) occurring when the force of the initial contact is from behind and above the waist. (Contrast this with Clipping which is from behind and at or below the waist). There are some exceptions, including when a player is attempting to tackle a runner or when a player is attempting to recover a ball. The penalty is 10 yards.
Obstructing an opponent by contacting him with any part of the blocker’s body. This includes pushing, which is blocking an opponent with open hands. Blocking is used by both the offense and defense. When used by the offensive players it is often to prevent the defensive players from getting to the ball carrier or to make space for the ball carrier to move. There are certain ways of blocking that are illegal and as a result will incur penalties. These include: Blocking Below the Waist, Block in the Back (from behind and above the waist), Chop Block (two blockers, one high and one low), Clipping (from behind and below the waist) and Holding.
Blocking Below the Waist:
Blocking below the waist is the initial contact below the waist with any part of the blocker’s body against an opponent (other than the ball carrier). This applies to blocking an opponent who has one or both feet on the ground. A blocker who makes contact above the waist and then slides below the waist is considered to have blocked Above the Waist and not Below the Waist. Blocking Below the Waist and from behind is never permitted. Otherwise, Blocking Below the Waist from the front may be permitted depending on the rules, which are rather lengthy and can be found at Rule 9, Section 1, Article 2(e) of the Football 2009-2010 Rules and Interpretations. If it happens to be one of the blocks Below the Waist that is not permitted, this is a personal foul that includes a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down if committed by the defense.
A direct, forceful rush by a defensive player. The purpose is to attempt to overwhelm an opponent with force.
A technique used by pass defenders (Defensive Backs) in which they initially hit the receiver “bump” within one yard of the line of scrimmage (in the NFL this number is five yards). They are not allowed to touch him past that range until he actually has the ball. Then they follow him or “run” with him. This slows down the offensive player in an attempt to throw off the timing of the route he is running and when and where the quarterback expects him to be. And because he has been slowed down it also gives the defensive player time to run with him and be in a position to prevent him from catching a pass.
See Curl Route.
A combination block by any two players against an opponent (other than the ball carrier) with or without delays between the blocks in which one player blocks low and the other blocks high. It can come in as a high then low block or a low than high block. This is a personal foul and the penalty is 15 yards plus an automatic first down if the foul was committed by the defense.
A block against an opponent (other than the ball carrier) occurring when the force of the initial contact is from behind and at or below the waist. (Contrast this with a Block in the Back that is from behind but above the waist). There are some exceptions, including when a player is attempting to tackle a runner or when a player is attempting to recover a ball. This is a personal foul and the penalty is 15 yards plus an automatic first down if the foul was committed by the defense.
This is a statistic used to describe a quarterback’s accuracy. It is the number of completed passes divided by the total number of passes attempted.
See Defensive Backs.
This is a defensive scheme that falls under the category of Zone Coverage. It is named after the fact that it has two players covering the deep part of the field. The Free Safety and Strong Safety split that area of the field into halves and defend their zones accordingly. For further reading, see Zone Coverage-Cover 2 in Advanced materials.
This is a defensive scheme that falls under the category of Zone Coverage. It is named after the fact that it has three players covering the deep part of the field. The Free Safety and the two cornerbacks divide that area of the field into thirds and defend their zones accordingly. For further reading, see Zone Coverage-Cover 3 in Advanced materials.
How a defense defends against the pass. There are two basic defensive schemes and they are distinguished based on how they defend against the pass: either Man-to-Man or Zone.
Also known as a “Button Hook” it is a route run by a Receiver where the Receiver appears to be running a Fly Route straight downfield but then stops short and turns around in order to catch a pass. He does this when the defender is further downfield than he is and hopes to get in front of him in order to catch the ball Underneath. The route the Receiver runs appears to curl or hook and as a result the zone he does this in is called the Curl Zone.
There are two Curl zones and they are on the defensive side of the field. The Curl is the area beginning about 7 to 10 yards downfield or past the Line of Scrimmage and found along either sideline extending across the field to the Hash Marks (approximately 20 yards towards the middle of the field). The Curl is right above the Flat and to the outside of the Hook (on either side of the Hash Marks). The Zone is named after the Curl Route that .
Cut or Cut-back:
This is when the player with the ball makes a sudden change in direction that makes it more difficult for defenders to tackle him.
This is the furthest part of the field on the defensive side of the ball away from the Line of Scrimmage. Someone who is deep is far down the field in the direction that the team with the ball is moving. Contrast this to the shallow or Underneath area of the field.
This unit is ultimately held accountable for defending against the pass, but will also have run defense duties. Their exact position on the field varies tremendously, especially for the Cornerbacks and the Free Safety. There are typically four different Defensive Backs on the defense at a time and these include two Cornerbacks (CB), a Strong Safety (SS) and Free Safety (FS). If a fifth player is added for concentrated purposes of preventing pass completions, he is called the Nickel Back. The Cornerbacks’ primary job is to cover wide receivers and they are typically the fastest players on the field. Depending on the scheme, the Free Safety will be the deepest in Coverage (farthest away from the Line of Scrimmage) and will be the last line of defense. The Strong Safety will often play up closer to the Line of Scrimmage in order to match up against the offense’s Tight End and/or become more involved in defending the run. The Strong Safety’s job is to help Cornerbacks cover receivers as well as help the Defensive Line and Linebackers defend against the run.
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|—–Line of Scrimmage—–|
See Defensive Linemen.
These are the players who start the play on the Line of Scrimmage with either one (3-point stance) or two (4-point stance) hands on the ground. They are the first line of defense. There are many different formations and depending on which scheme a defensive coordinator chooses to use (the 3-4 and 4-3 are the most popular) there will be different numbers of defensive linemen (usually 3 or 4) with different positions. These positions consist of two Defensive Ends (DE) (on the outside of the formation) and if one player in the middle, one Nose Tackle (NT) or if two players in the middle, two Defensive Tackles (DT). The primary goal of the Defensive Linemen is to protect against the run on running plays or rushing the passer (attempting to sack/disrupt the quarterback) on passing plays.
|—–Line of Scrimmage—–|
|—–Line of Scrimmage—–|
There are three categories of players on defense: (1) Defensive Linemen, (2) Linebackers and (3) Defensive Backs. Each category is further broken down into types.
- Defensive Linemen: Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Nose Tackle.
- Linebackers: Outside Linebacker, Inside Linebacker, Middle Linebacker, Strong-side Linebacker, Weak-side Linebacker.
- Defensive Backs: Cornerback, Strong Safety, Free Safety.
See Defensive Linemen.
The sixth defensive back. See Defensive Backs.
Also known as Double Teaming. This is when two defensive players are covering one offensive player.
Also known as a Stutter Step. A momentary hesitation or false step by a runner done to fake a defender out of position.
This is an offensive play in which there are two different options for who can run with the football and the Quarterback must make the decision on what to do with the ball based on the Zone Read. See Option, Spread Option
Toward or in the defensive team’s end of the playing field. From the offense’s point of view it is past the Line of Scrimmage and at or toward the goal line of the defensive team.
A play in which the quarterback pretends that he is going to pass the ball and drops back as if to pass in order to draw the defenders downfield into pass defense. The Quarterback then either hands the ball off to a Running back or keeps it and runs with it himself.
Only certain players on offense are permitted to catch a forward pass. No player wearing number 50 through 79 is permitted to catch a forward pass (these are the numbers designated and required to be worn by at least 5 Offensive Linemen). As long as the players on the end of the Offensive Line are not wearing numbers 50-79, they are eligible to catch a forward pass. All defensive players are permitted to touch or catch a pass. Once a defensive player touches a legal forward pass, all players become eligible.
A penalty when an offensive player other than the Center (or whoever is snapping the ball) is in or beyond the neutral zone once the snapper touches or simulates touching the ball before the snap.
A play where the Wide Receiver moves into the backfield as the ball is snapped and takes the handoff directly from the quarterback. He then runs around the opposite end from where he originally lined up prior to the snap. This is different from a Reverse in which the Quarterback hands the ball to another player who then hands it to the Wide Receiver.
After a football team scores a touchdown, they have the opportunity to score extra points either by attempting (a) To kick the extra point, which gives them one point for kicking the ball through the goal posts; or (b) The two-point conversion, which gives them two points for crossing into the end zone the same way they would in order to score a touchdown. In both scenarios the ball is snapped from the opponent’s 3-yard line (or 2-yard line in the NFL).
This happens when the player who is catching the kick off or punt signals to the referee that he is not going to run with the ball once he catches it, but rather accepts field position where he is. The defensive players are not allowed to tackle him at this point, but they still cover the play in the event he drops the ball because then the ball becomes “live” again.
When an offensive player pretends to charge forward or shifts/moves in a way that simulates the beginning of a play. Once the snapper assumes the position for snapping the ball and touches/simulates touching it, if he moves to another position, this is considered a false start. It also includes quick movement by any of the four other Offensive Linemen other than the snapper (wearing number 50 though 79) after having placed a hand/s on or near the ground (unless the movement was a reaction to the defensive player’s movement into the neutral zone). The penalty for fouls before the ball is snapped is five yards from the succeeding spot.
This is worth three points. During a field goal attempt the ball is snapped from where it was last spotted and the kicker stands straight back from it. In order to determine how long a field goal attempt is you need to take into account the distance from the beginning of the end zone to the goal posts (10 yards) as well as how far the kicker stands from where the ball is snapped (7 yards). This is an additional 17 yards in total. Therefore, if the ball is on an opponent’s 30-yard line, then the field goal will be a 47-yard attempt. Especially in college, an offense wants to position the ball so that the field goal kicker has less than about 40 yards for the attempt, which means they really aim to be within the opponent’s 23 yards line. Field goals are attempted on 4th down they have a higher likelihood of putting points on the board than going for a touchdown.
A wide receiver who lines up in the backfield outside of another receiver. He is also called the “Z” Receiver.
There are two Flat zones and they are on the defensive side of the field. The Flat is the area within about 7 to 10 yards of the Line of Scrimmage and found along either sideline extending across the field to the Hash Marks (approximately 20 yards towards the middle of the field). The Flat is right underneath the Curl Zone.
A trick play on offense in which the Quarterback hands the ball to the Running Back who throws a backward pass back to the Quarterback, who then throws a forward pass to a Wide Receiver or Tight End.
See also “Streak” or “Go” Routes. This is a Route run by a Receiver where he runs straight downfield towards the opponent’s End Zone. A Receiver running this route is attempting to get past the defender In order to catch a pass.
This defender plays close to the Sideline in the middle of the field (Flat and Curl regions) of the field and attempts to force the player carrying the ball to move from the edge of the field to the inside, where there are more defensive players to tackle him.
This is when the football is thrown by a football player (typically the quarterback) to one of the players on his team (typically the wide receiver or tight end, but can also be to the running back and if specifically declared eligible before the play is run, can also include the offensive linemen and the quarterback). Only one forward pass can be thrown by the football team during a given play and it must be thrown from behind the line of scrimmage (where the ball begins).
This indicates the end of advancement of the ball carrier or airborne pass receiver of either team and applies to the position of the ball when it became dead by rule. It is the furthest spot that the player with the ball has reached before his progress has stopped. Even if the defense moves him backwards with their tackle, the play is considered over once he has been initially stopped and the ball will be spotted there rather than farther back. This takes the pressure off the referee’s judgment in blowing the whistle immediately or waiting, as a few seconds could cause significant disparity in where the ball would be positioned.
See Defensive Backs.
When a football player drops or otherwise loses the football while the play is in progress. Whoever picks it up will gain possession for his team.
This is a reference to the space between the offensive line. There are various ways of labeling these gaps, with the simplest being that the space between the Center and the Guard is the “A Gap,” the space between the Guard and the Tackle is the “B Gap” and the space between the Tackle and a Tight End is the “C Gap.”
OT –B Gap– OG –A Gap– Center –A Gap– OG –B Gap– OT –C Gap– TE
This is the Gap that a player is responsible for covering, either as an attacker on defense or a blocker on offense. “Gap Assignment” is commonly used when referring to which gap a defensive player is assigned.
Also known as a Fly or Streak. See “Fly Route.”
The structure in the end zone that the kicker must kick the football through to score an extra point or a field goal.
Hash Marks (or Inbound Lines):
In college these are the marks on either side of that are 20 yards from the sidelines (please note that this differs significantly from the NFL). The width of the field is a total of 53 yards and therefore the left and right hash marks are separated by 13 yards. The play will always begin on or within the hash marks, which run the width of the field. If the ball ends up within the hash marks after a play, the ball will be spotted at that exact position. However, if the ball ends up outside the hash marks, it will be moved directly left or right so that it is placed on the closest hash mark after the play.
“S” is the Sideline and “H” is the Hashmark
|S||-60 ft-||H||-40 ft||H||-60ft-||S|
This is one of the most popular penalties in football. It occurs when a player on offense or defense stops the movement of his opponent by holding onto his body (which includes his uniform). The penalty is 10 yards. (In the NFL it is a loss of 10 yards unless committed by the defense and then it is 5 yards and an automatic first down).
There are two Hook Zones and they are on the defensive side of the field. The Hook is the area beginning about 7 to 10 yards downfield or past the Line of Scrimmage and found directly across from where the Offensive Tackles are standing on the other side of the ball and extending towards the center/middle of the field. The Hook is directly next to and on the inside of the Curl.
An offensive strategy designed to quickly carry out offensive plays while using as little time off of the clock as possible. It often involves going without a huddle prior to the plays and can be difficult for a defense as they have less time to get into position and recognize what the offense is doing.
When a player who is ineligible intentionally touches a ball that has been kicked or passed before an opponent or official touches it. If this occurs on a forward pass and the player is ineligible to touch it, there is a five yard penalty from the previous spot.
In the Box:
This is the area on the defensive side of the field in the middle and directly behind the Line of Scrimmage. It encompasses the area from the Defensive Line to approximately five yards back, typically containing the Linebackers, and its outer edges are determined by where the Defensive Ends line up on either side. The standard formation puts 7 Men in the Box. There are different defensive strategies relating to the Box such as “8 Men in the Box” which is a defensive formation to put additional concentration on stopping the run and “6 Men in the Box” which is a defensive formation that takes players out of the Box in order to put additional pressure on the passing game.
|CB|| LB LB LB
DE DT DT DE
|Line of Scrimmmage|
A penalty when the quarterback purposely throws an incomplete pass just to avoid a sack. In college the penalty is that the ball is then marked at the spot of the foul and there’s a loss of down, which is exactly what would have happened had the play run without the penalty and the Quarterback had been sacked. So there really is no consequence for the Quarterback to attempt to get away with avoiding the Sack. However, in the NFL the rules are different. It’s a 10-yard penalty plus loss of down, unless the Quarterback is farther behind the line of scrimmage than 10 yards, then it’s at the spot of the foul. Regardless, if this play occurs in a player’s own End Zone, then the result of the play is a Safety.
A pass that is caught by a player on the defense instead of the offensive player it was intended for. This changes possession to the other team and regardless of whose fault it is, for statistic purposes it is always blamed on the quarterback.
When a football player kicks the football to the other team. This happens at the start of the game, the second half and overtime, and after each score.
A pass that is thrown backward by the team with the ball (meaning in the opposite direction that they are attempting to move). While players can attempt only one forward pass during a given play, they can lateral a pass as many times as they would like. A play with multiple lateral passes is most often seen on the last play of the game when a team has a lot of ground to cover and needs to score a touchdown to tie or win the game. The most famous example of this is the Cal-Stanford “Band” game.
Line of Scrimmage:
Each team has its own line of scrimmage when the ball is ready for play, which is the yard line and it’s vertical plane that passes through the point of the ball nearest its side of the field and extends to the sidelines.
These are the players behind the Defensive Linemen in an upright position. They line up about three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage and are the second line of defense. There are many different formations and depending on which scheme a defensive coordinator chooses to use, there will be different numbers of Linebackers with different positions. These positions consist of two Outside Linebackers (OLB) and either one Middle linebacker (MLB) or two Inside Linebackers (ILB), depending on whether there are 3 or 4 linebackers. They are responsible for protecting against the run, rushing the passer and defending against the pass (Coverage). Within each position, these can be further broken down into specifics such as the Sam (Strong-side OLB), the Will (weak-side OLB) and the Mike (MLB).
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|—–Line of Scrimmage—–|
The offensive and defensive football players who start each play at the line of scrimmage. These positions are the most complicated to understand, but the most important in the game of football.
(a) See Offensive Linemen.
(b) See Defensive Linemen.
Loss of a Down:
This is an abbreviation meaning “loss of the right to repeat a down.” Oftentimes after penalties, a team on offense will have the right to repeat the down, but on certain penalties they lose this right. A well-known broadcaster once had this very wrong during the broadcast and mistakenly thought after a penalty for intentional grounding that took place on 1st down that the loss of down penalty meant that rather than 2nd down, it was 3rd down. He proceeded to do an analysis on this that was completely wrong as the fact is that a team never actually loses a down, just the right to repeat it.
This is a type of defensive scheme. There are two basic defensive schemes and they are distinguished based on how they defend against the pass. In Man-To-Man, as the name suggests, the pass defenders are assigned to defend against specific players. (LINK TO ZONE COVERAGE)
An unsuccessful attempt to catch or recover a ball that is touched in the attempt.
The space between the two lines of scrimmage (on offense and defense) extended to the sidelines. It is the length of the ball. Only the player snapping the ball can be in this area once he puts his hands on the ball or simulates such. If an offensive player enters the neutral zone after this point, it is Encroachment. If a defensive player enters the neutral zone after this point, it is Offside. There are penalties for both infractions.
The fifth defensive back. See Defensive Backs and Nickel Defense.
Typically a defense has four players in the defensive backfield, which includes two cornerbacks and two safeties. When they add a fifth player to help cover a passing play, they call this player the Nickel Back and this formation the Nickel Defense.
See Defensive Linemen.
These are the players who begin the play on the Offensive Line of Scrimmage. It includes the Offensive Linemen and any other players who may be standing on the Line. At least five players must be on the Offensive Line to begin a play wearing jerseys numbered 50 through 79.
These players must begin each play on the Offensive Line and include the Center (in the middle), an Offensive Guard on either side of him and two Offensive Tackles on the ends.
After the ball is ready for play, when a defensive player (a) contacts an opponent beyond the Neutral Zone before the ball is snapped, (b) contacts the ball before it is snapped, (c) threatens an Offensive Linemen such that it causes an immediate reaction before the ball is snapped or (d) is in or beyond the Neutral Zone when the ball is legally snapped. The penalty is 5 yards.
This is an offensive scheme that has as its premise two or more options of what the Quarterback can do with the ball based on what he sees from the defense. His decision is based on the Zone Read. See Spread Option, Triple Spread Option and Zone Read. (LINK TO SPREAD OPTION OFFENSE)
This can be a foul committed by either the offense or defense. The rules on this are quite complicated as written and more in-depth than I would have thought, but the general idea is that when there are two players in the vicinity of the ball, they need to be going after the ball and not the other player. The penalty for this is 15 yards plus an automatic first down if committed by the defense.
Blocking by the offensive football players to keep defenders away from the Quarterback to give him time to throw the football.
This is used to describe what the defensive players are doing when they attempt to get through the offensive players and to the player (usually the Quarterback) attempting to pass the ball. If they get to the Quarterback while he still has the ball in his hand, it is considered a sack.
This number is calculated to determine how well a quarterback passes the ball and takes into account his passing yards, touchdowns, interceptions, completions and attempts. The calculations were determined so that 100.00 is the average passing efficiency. The formula is:
Passing Efficiency = (8.4 x passing yards) + (330 x Touchdowns) + (200 x completions) – (100 x interceptions), all divided by the number of attempts.
Please note that in the NFL the Quarterback’s Passer Rating is determined by a different (and more complicated) method and I don’t suggest memorizing it.
NFL Passer Rating = (Completions/Attempts -30)(.05) + (Yards/Attempts -3)(.25) + (TDs/Attempts)(.2) + 2.375 – (INTs/Attempts)(.25), then multiply that total by 100 and divide it by 6. Please note that for each of the four calculations if the resulting number is less than 0, use 0 and if the resulting number is greater than 2.375, use 2.375. Also, please mentally insert the word “passing” in front of each of these terms.
This is prescribed for a rule infraction. If there is a penalty for the rule infraction it is called a foul. If there is no penalty for the rule infraction, it is simply a violation. A violation cannot offset a foul. However, fouls can offset each other.
This type of foul typically carries a 15 yard penalty plus an automatic first down if committed by the defense. It includes such penalties such as Blocking Below the Waist and Chop Block.
When a defensive player makes an interception (“pick”) and proceeds to run the ball into his opponent’s endzone for a touchdown. A touchdown is worth six points (not including the extra point/s opportunity), therefore the player picks the ball and gets six points for his team.
Quick summary: A hybrid version of the shotgun in which the Quarterback lines up about 3 yards behind the Center and the Running Back lines up directly behind the Quarterback.
Detailed explanation: The Pistol appears similar to the Shotgun (where the Quarterback stands about 5 to 7 feet back from the Center), but the Quarterback is only about 3 to 5 feet away. The key to this formation is that the Running Back stands directly behind the Quarterback rather than being offset (standing to either side him). This provides instant deception for defenses as the position and motion of the Quarterback in front of the Running Back can block their line of vision. It is especially difficult for Linebackers who are trained to watch the Running Back in order to identify the direction of the play. This gives the Quarterback the time and vision needed for the passing game while letting the Running Back get moving towards the Line of Scrimmage so that he has momentum building if and when he takes the handoff. “Your back now has the ability to go both ways, as opposed to being offset one way or the other,” (Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel). Although it can be used for Play Action passes, it is most effective for a team looking to run the ball. The Option can be run out of this formation as well.
Play Action Pass:
This is when the Quarterback pretends to hand off the football to the Running Back, but actually keeps it. The Running Back will run up the field and pretend that he has the ball. The Offensive Linemen will join in the fake and act as if they’re blocking for a running play. But it’s all just an attempt to disguise the pass play, as the Quarterback never actually gave the ball away and is actually attempting to pass it. The offense is hoping that the defensive players will react to what they think is a running play by moving up to defend the runner who is pretending to have the ball, rather than continue with the pass rush or with covering the wide receivers. If executed correctly this will give the quarterback and receivers more time and space to make a play. This is the opposite of a Draw Play.
The area surrounding the Quarterback where he stand when the ball is snapped. It’s really just the space around the quarterback where that he hopes is protected from the defense by his blockers. When this “collapses” it means that the defensive players have broken through and the Quarterback no longer has the protection of his Pocket to stand in and pass the ball so he must move immediately.
This is when four or more players are assigned to cover the deep passing threat. With less players up front, the defense sacrifices the run and short pass to avoid giving up big plays. They allow this to happen because the hope is that the clock will expire before the other team can make it far enough down the field to score. However, because the Quarterback is often able to make short and medium length passes, the offense will eventually move the ball down the field. Some say that that the only thing the Prevent Defense does is prevent you from winning.
This takes place on 4th down, which is the last down of possession before the ball goes to the other team. Rather than call a play where they run or pass the ball, the team on offense has the opportunity to kick the ball to the other side. If a team is close to their own end zone, they will likely opt for this play so that they move the ball in the opposite direction. The risk is when the other team has a good punt returner because he can negate the benefit of kicking the ball and at worst can score a touchdown on the punt return. But if executed correctly, this puts the punting team in a much better position than if they were to lose the ball after 4 downs and just give the other team the ball at the spot on the field where they had it. You can distinguish this type of kick from a kickoff because the ball is snapped to the kicker who holds the ball in his hands and drops it to kick, rather than kicking it from the ground, where it sits on a tee.
This is the football player that starts the majority of the plays on offense. He takes the snap from the Center and directs the play by giving it to another player, passing it or running with it himself. Quarterbacks need to have a strong understanding of the game, including the play that is called and recognizing and understanding how it is affected by different defensive schemes. It is important that he quickly reads the defense to know what to do with the ball as oftentimes the play is organic and set to develop based on what the defense does. The Quarterback is the only player on a team who has wins and losses attributed to him.
These include the Wide Receivers, whose primary function is to catch forward passes and the Tight End, whose role in the passing game can vary depending on the office and who also has a major role in blocking (he lines up on the offensive line as an extension of the other lineman). They may run the ball as well, but not typically.
To carry out a blitz. (See Blitz).
The designation given to a college player who did not play in any games during a particular year due to the Head Coach’s decision or injury (sometimes in the case of injury the NCAA will grant a medical redshirt to a player who started the season but did not play in very many games); The redshirted player is permitted to practice with the team and this doesn’t count against his four years of eligibility. Most often freshman are redshirted so that in their first year of playing, which is their sophomore year of college, they are called “redshirt freshmen” as opposed to “true freshman”.
This is a term used to describe the area between one’s opponent’s 20-yard line and its goal line. The chance of scoring is increased greatly once a team reaches the Red Zone because even if they don’t make it into the End Zone, at that point the field goal attempt would be 37 yards (20 +17) or less and it is expected that the kicker will be able to make it successfully.
An offensive play in which the Quarterback hands the ball to the Running Back who starts by carrying the ball toward one side of the field, but then hands or tosses the ball to a teammate (almost exclusively a Wide Receiver) who is running in the opposite direction. This is in contrast to an End Around in which the Quarterback hands the ball off directly to the Wide Receiver.
Run out of the Gun:
When a running play takes place from the Shotgun Formation.
This occurs when the defense is able to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage during a passing play. If the play is designed as a running play it is not a Sack, but rather a Stuff. A Sack only occurs when the Quarterback is attempting a passing play and is tackled. In College Football the negative yards for a Sack are subtracted from the Quarterback’s rushing totals and therefore the team’s total rushing yards, even though the Quarterback was attempting to throw the ball. This is why the total passing and receiving yards in College Football are identical. However, these numbers are different in the NFL because the negative yards from a Sack are subtracted from the Quarterback’s and therefore the team’s total passing yards and thus that total will differ from the number of receiving yards.
(1) When the player holding the football is tackled in his own end zone. The defense gets 2 points plus possession of the football via a kickoff.
(2) A type of Defensive Back, which can be either a Free Safety or Strong Safety. See Defensive Back.
A short pass thrown to a receiver on the outer edge of the field while he stands behind one of his Offensive Linemen, who is standing in between him and the defensive player. Screens are used constantly in basketball and while they are complicated to describe in writing, they are much easier to watch. So just watch and listen.
A series comprises four consecutive downs that each begins with the snap.
This is an offensive formation in which the Quarterback lines up about 5 to 8 yards back from the Center when receiving the snap as opposed to directly behind him. He is often (but not necessarily) accompanied by one or two Running Backs standing directly next to him. One of the reasons why an offense will use a Shotgun Formation is so the Quarterback can more easily see the field and scan from left to right and see where the defensive players are coming from. The Quarterback needs this vision when executing passing plays and that is why this formation is typically associated with such. However when it is not a passing play, it is considered a “Run out of the Gun.”
The center hands off the football between his legs to a player standing behind him (usually the quarterback) at the start of each play. This can also be referred to as a hike or hiking the ball as opposed to snapping it.
This is the unit on the team involved in any of the kicking plays, including the kickoff, the punt and a field goal attempt.
The distance between the feet of adjacent Offensive Linemen. This is said to be wide, if there is a large gap between players, or narrow, if the gap is small.
The “spread” refers to any formation that forces the defense to cover more area before the play begins (before the ball is snapped) and creates more area in between defensive players. Because the Offensive Tackles (one on each end of the offensive line) stand farther away from each other, the Defensive Linemen and Linebackers must mimic their counterparts and spread out as well. (If they didn’t also spread out then the offensive linemen would contain defenses to their inside and therefore allow their teammates to easily run around them along the outside edge).
This is an offensive scheme that incorporates the Spread Offense and the Option. It has many different variations and is notably implemented at Florida by Urban Meyer, at Michigan by Rich Rodriguez and at Oregon by Chip Kelly (and formerly by Mike Bellotti). (LINK TO SPREAD OPTION)
Also known as a Fly or Go.. See “Fly Route.”
See Defensive Backs.
A tackle of a ball carrier on a running play, behind the line of scrimmage.
Also known as a Double Move. A momentary hesitation or false step by a runner done to fake a defender out of position.
This is a football strategy popularized by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers under head coach Tony Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. It is similar to the Cover 3 in that there are three players in deep coverage. However, as in Cover 2, just two of those players are defensive backs. In the Tampa 2 the third player that drops back in deep coverage is the middle linebacker.
This is when a player in possession of the football takes the ball across the plane of the other team’s goal line and into the end zone while remaining in bounds. It is worth 6 points plus the option to run one additional play, which is either to try to kick the ball through the goal posts for one extra point, or to try to get the ball into the end zone again for two extra points.
[NEW RULE as of May 9, 2011] “Any Player may wear a towel. The towel must still meet the size and color criteria set forth in rule 1-45-p.” According to those requirements, the towel must be white and be no larger than 4” by 12” in size. [PREVIOUS RULE] On scrimmage plays, one white moisture-absorbing towel may be worn by one interior offensive lineman, one offensive backfield player and a maximum of two defensive players. The towels of the offensive backfield and defensive players must be 4 inches by 12 inches and must be worn on the front or side of the belt. There are no restrictions on the size or location of the towel worn by the interior offensive lineman; On free kicks, one white moisture absorbing towel without markings may be worn by a maximum of two kicking team and two receiving team players. The towels worn on free kicks must be 4 inches by 12 inches and must be worn on the front or side of the belt.
This is an offensive play in which there are three different options for who can run with the football and the Quarterback must make the decision on what to do with the ball based on the Zone Read. See Option, Triple Spread Option.
Triple Spread Option:
Also referred to as the Triple Option Spread Offense, this is a version of the Spread Option Offense that is credited to Paul Johnson who installed it at Navy and currently runs it at Georgia Tech. It is distinguished form the other Spread Options in that it uses three different running options on each play. The Quarterback makes the decision on what to do with the ball based on the Zone Read.
When the offense, the team with the possession of the football, loses it and “turns” it over to the other team either through a fumble (dropping the ball or otherwise losing it to a defensive player) or an interception (when a defensive player catches the ball in the air).
This is the shallow part of the field on the defensive side of the ball, meaning that it is closer to the Line of Scrimmage. The term underneath suggests that the player is in front of a defender, meaning he is closer to the Line of Scrimmage than the defender. Contrast Underneath with Deep.
Toward or in the offensive team’s end of the playing field. From the defense’s point of view it is past the Line of Scrimmage and at or toward the goal line of the offensive team.
An offensive formation for a running play in which the runner takes the snap directly from the Center.
See Curl, Flat and Hook
This is a type of defensive scheme. In Zone Coverage, the pass defenders cover a specific area or zone on the field rather than a specific player. The most popular Zone Coverage defenses are the Cover 2 and the Cover 3. An easy way to remember what personnel are used in the Cover 2 versus the Cover 3 is to remember that the only player involved in both schemes is the Free Safety. He will be joined in Deep Coverage by either the other Safety (for a total of 2 in the Cover 2) or the two Cornerbacks (for a total of 3 in the Cover 3). To read more see Advanced Materials: Zone Coverage.
This is a step in the Spread Option in which the Quarterback reads the defense in order to determine which option to use. The terms Spread Option and Zone Read are used interchangeably in the broadcast as both sufficiently describe the offensive strategy because the Zone Read and Option work in conjunction with each other. The Zone Read is the method of determining which option to use. The idea behind it is to create an advantage in terms of the number of players on the offense surrounding the football compared to defense. Although both teams have 11 men on the field, because the Quarterback is not used to block, when he is not carrying the ball, the defense has an extra player to use against the offense in the blocking scheme. In the Zone Read, the Offensive Line allows this extra player to move freely, but then chooses the option that puts the ball in the opposite direction of where he is moving.