HuffyHow: Even more beginner girl’s guide to football

2009 Michigan Wolverines football team

Image via Wikipedia

  The football game is over. The coaches and teams are sprinting off the field. (They run because they want to look tough, of course.) Now, finally, can we please go home, curl up on the couch and watch a little Lifetime? Nooooooooo, don’t be silly. It’s time for the post game analysis (PGA). What else is there to say, you might ask? Team A won because they scored more points than Team B. End of story. No, the game is never done, because this is football, where boys  become men, and dammit we’re not ready to go back to being boys yet. Let the PGA begin. 

If you’re at the game in person, your analysis starts on the walk back to the car and continues on the ride home. My guy companions begin analysis of every play. Everything from “They shouldn’t have run the hook and ladder on that last drive” to “________ (insert quarterback’s name here) has got to work on his _________ (insert problem area here).” I don’t know enough about the strategy to have much to say, but I’ve developed a few generic phrases that help me fit in. “They shouldn’t have gone for two,” I say, in response to the team missing the two extra points after the touchdown. Most of the time teams opt to run the ball in for the extra point after touchdown, but at crucial times, such as when the team wants to be ahead by more than a touchdown, they try passing the ball into the end zone, which, if successful, yields two points. This also works conversely, as in “They SHOULD have gone for two” if your team has lost by two points, so you essentially get two comments for the price of one.

Another favorite of mine is “The secondary looks weak.” This is a great phrase, but a little tricky to pull off, because first, you have to know what the secondary is, and second (or secondarily 🙂 ) it only works if the secondary IS indeed weak, otherwise you’ll just sound silly. I find the whole secondary thing a little confusing, but as far as I can tell, this is how it goes: there’s the first row of offensive linemen whose job it is to protect the quarterback and block so the ball can get through; then there’s another set of players as backup in case the first set does not succeed, so they’re called the secondary. This is not to be confused with  the second string, who are the second choice players who sit on the bench, the virtual B list who only get to play if the first string guy gets hurt. 

The term “weak” is anathema to football, because football is about men who are strong, winning, crushing,  so it’s also a pretty safe bet that you can use “weak” in almost any context and end up with something meaningful to say. “The quarterback looked weak,” “The defense is weak,” “The special teams are weak,” you get the idea.

Just when you think your companions have run out of things to say in  PGA, they turn on the TV or radio to hear the PGA of others. There’s a multitude of talk radio programs where callers call in to add their post-game comments, probably because they don’t have any one at home with whom to commiserate.  The call-in shows often focus on the ineptitude of the coaches, with callers finding ten different ways to say the same thing, which is essentially, the coach has to go! This gets tiresome about the time we get home and turn on the TV to watch the professional post-game analysis. There are usually four commentators sitting at a desk, which implies officiousness, since not just anyone is allowed to sit at a desk on TV. The commentators are usually former football players and/or former coaches. Anyone on the commentator team who is a former coach is addressed merely as “Coach” as if coach was his first name.  The professional commentators provide analysis of all the games that were played or are about to be played anywhere in America on that day, so obviously this could go on forever, and usually does.

Your PGA will go better if you understand some of the common football terms.

Sack: tackling the quarterback before he’s had a chance to get rid of the ball. Quarterbacks consider being sacked a horrible humiliation, so they’ll do anything to avoid it, such as throwing the ball out-of-bounds or hiding it in their pants.

Receiver: the part of your phone that you speak into, or the person intended to catch the ball.

Blitz: when the defense rushes at the quarterback attempting a sack.

Safety: one of the most ridiculous football terms ever. If the opposing team is able to drag the quarterback into the end zone while he still has the ball, they score a safety, which is worth two points. So what’s safe about that?

Offsides: when members of the offense move ahead of the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

Now you know everything you need to know to watch, or at least pretend to watch, football.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

HuffyHow: A girl’s beginner guide to football

The Quarterback Shea Smith in the moment befor...

Quarterback in the gun (Image via Wikipedia)

As if they were doing something really important, like landing on the moon or launching the D-Day invasion, football teams are compelled to be over the top. In order to move the ball down a hundred-yard field to score points, they have a whole regiment of players, divided into subgroups. There’s the offense, which is the team that’s in charge of scoring goals (touchdowns and field goals, six and three points respectively.) Then there’s the defense, (pronounced DE’ fense, not de FENSE’) that tries to keep the opposing team from scoring a goal. Finally there are “special teams” – the kickoff return team, the field goal team, the extra point team, the synchronized swimming team, the kick-boxing team and the Gatorade-pouring team. 

The key players to watch on the offensive team are the center and the quarterback. If you keep your eyes on these guys, you’ll always be able to find the ball. At the beginning of each play, the center hikes or snaps the ball to the quarterback to start the play. The center crouches, oddly enough, in the center of the offensive line in a clutched up downward dog position. The quarterback will be behind the center, either under center or shotgun (called “in the gun.”) In the under center position, the quarterback strikes a pose that one generally will not see men assume in public in other conditions – directly behind the center with his hands between the center’s legs. In  the gun, the quarterback stands a few steps back from the center. Once the quarterback gets the ball from the center he’ll either pass it, hand it off, or keep the ball and carry it. Of course he does this with a lot of finesse so you’ll have to watch closely. The quarterback might hand off the ball, but pretend he’s kept the ball and keep running forward. This is to confuse the defense so they have to think about who has the ball. Everyone who has the possibility of receiving the ball runs as if they’re holding a ball, to confuse the defense further. There’s so many people acting like they’re carrying a ball that sometimes the defense will spend a lot of time chasing down the wrong guy.

The offense gets four tries (or downs) to advance the ball 10 yards; they start out at “first and 10.” Every time they get at least 10 yards, they get another four tries. So say on the first play, the quarterback hands off the ball and the runner advances it 5 yards. Since they didn’t get at least 10 yards, now it’s “second and 5”. On the next play, if they get the ball at least 5 yards, then they’ll start over again at “first and 10.” This continues until the offense scores, or they use up all their tries/downs without scoring, or the apocalypse comes.  If the offense does not score, they call out the special punting team and kick the ball to the other team for their turn. If they do score, then the call out the special kickoff team, who kicks the ball to the other team and they start the whole thing over. This process should take about five minutes, but in reality it may take as long as 20, from repeatedly stopping the clock while the down markers get moved, taking time-outs, the TV station calling TV time-outs, and the refs stopping  to call their brokers. This can obviously continue for some time, which explains why football games last  three and a half hours, even though technically they are only 60 minutes. In between all this, the TV coverage shows the coaches pacing the sidelines and yelling, with some toadie following the coach and carrying his headset cord. This is no doubt so the coach does not get all tangled up in wires and have to yell even more than usual. All in all, this makes for lively festive fun, which of course is what football is all about.

Coming up – join in the fun by cheering on your team with appropriate football banter, and more.

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.