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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Football 201 for Women

12:40 PM |

Part play...

So ladies, so far we've covered the offensive positions, the defensive positions and the special teams positions. Now it's time to get to the heart of the matter. What the heck is going on in the game???

Today's discussion will center around the offense. After all, they are the main ones responsible for getting points on the board. The goal of the game is to get more points than your opponent. In order to do so, the coaches and players plan and execute specific plays to do so. How they develop these plays varies from team to team and are determined by various factors.

At the beginning of the offensive plays the quarterback will inform the offense of what play is being run. He can do so either in a huddle or as they are getting into formation (no huddle). After the play is called the offense lines up according to the play called at the line of scrimmage. The center has the ball and snaps it back to the quarterback and the play begins. Depending on the type of play the quarterback will either throw the ball to a receiver down the field (a passing play) or he will hand the ball off to someone to run (a run play). Each team has their preference of what types of plays they run. If the quarterback is unable to get the ball to anyone, he may choose to run for the yards himself. Because the quarterback position is so vital to the team, they try to protect him from getting hit and keep him from running as much as possible. Which is why if you see the quarterback run, it is quite often that he'll run for as many yards as he can then try to get out of bounds.

Now the goal is to get down the field and get the ball into the end zone. The team has to move at least 10 yards to keep possession of the ball. They have 4 attempts to move the ball 10 yards. These are referred to as downs. Often you will hear the refs or the commentators say "1st down" or "1st and 10". This means that this is the first attempt to get 10 yards. "2nd and 5" will mean second attempt and they have 5 yards to go to get the down. Why is this important? Because if they do not move down the field they lose possession of the ball. Statistically, the team that has possession of the ball longer, has more opportunities to score more points. And we know the team that has the most points wins. Now, these yards are determined from where they start each play. So if the team loses yards (goes backwards down the field) they end up with what's known as a long field and they have even more yards to get to get the down.

Now there are 3 ways to get points on the board.

The touchdown. This is when the team gets the ball into the end zone. This is worth the most points: 6. After a team gets a touchdown they have the opportunity to get more points. They can kick. This is when the special teams will come out and the kicker will kick the ball between the large yellow poles in the end zone (the uprights). The ball has to go between those poles to count. The kick is worth 1 additional point. (These one points can make or break a game). The other option to get additional points after the touchdown is what's called a 2-point conversion. This is where the team lines up at the 1 yard line and attempts to get the ball back into the end zone. This is used mostly in desperate times or when the team is very confident they can get those two extra points. Remember, one point can really hurt or help a team so most teams use 2-point conversions sparingly.

The field goal. When a team is unable to get all the way down the field, but feels they are close enough to the end zone for their kicker to kick the ball through the uprights, they will kick a field goal. This is a play done by special teams, typically decided on the 4th down. This is worth 3 points and is a good way for teams to get points on the board when they feel that they will not make it into the end zone.

A safety. You will rarely see a safety happen. This is when someone from the other team is tackled in their own end zone by the defense. This is worth 2 points.

So there is a good start to understanding how to score points and what the offense is doing. Next up, we'll cover how the defense is built to stop the offense. Until then, happy football watching.