Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sarah's Guide to Football - Downs

I may regret posting this, because I'm sure so many of you know WAY more about football than I do. Which is fine - it's great, actually, because you can correct me if I say something stupid.

HOWEVER, there are some of you who don't know the first thing about football, which is where I was 5 years ago when I met Jason.

Can you even believe that I was a cheerleader for SIX years and I never understood "downs" in football? I knew 1st down was "good" and I should cheer, and of course I knew I should cheer when we scored.

Wow. That's even more embarassing to write than it was to think.

What I realized was that no one ever took the time to teach me, or if they tried, it was usually someone who spoke "football" and well... I spoke cheerleading.

Moving on....

When I met Jason, on our second date we went to my very first Tennessee football game and he slowly and simply answered all my questions. And now I'm going to try to explain downs to those of you who don't get football:
  • The offense (team with the ball) gets four tries to move 10 yards forward. They can run the ball or pass the ball, but their goal is to move 10 yards forward, while the defense tries to keep them from doing this.
  • When it is 1st and 10, that means this is their first try. Let's say they pass and it's incomplete, they will have to start at the same point, but now it's 2nd down, so they say it is 2nd and 10 - "their 2nd try with 10 yards to go".
  • They try again to move forward, and maybe they get 4 yards (out of the 10, so they still have 6 yards left), so then it is 3rd and 6. They are on their THIRD try and now they have 6 yards to go.
  • So on 3rd down, let's just say they're doing great and the get those 6 yards! WHOO HOO!! This means it is now 1st and 10 again. They are 10 yards farther down the field (closer to scoring a touchdown) and the 4 tries (downs) start again. {This is when the officials "move the chains" which show where the new 10 yards begin and end.}
  • If on 3rd down, they weren't able to get the last 6 yards, they would kick the ball to the opposing team, and "lose their turn" in a sense. Whereas, if they get the 6 yards, they "keep their turn" and get to keep trying to move forward to get a touchdown.
  • ***EDITED TO ADD: I realized I didn't exactly explain 4th down (thanks honey!). Okay, let's say that on the 3rd down, they got it almost all the way, so there is 1 yard left. If it is 4th and 1, a lot of times, the offense will "go for it" and try to push through to get that last yard. But, if they have more than a couple yards to go, then they will punt it from wherever they are on the field to the other team, and when the other team catches it, they try to run as far as they can before the defense (the ones who were just on offense) can stop them. Then the whole thing starts over with the previous defense now as offense. 
Alright. Anyone still with me? Was that too complicated? It's exactly how I would try to explain it to you if you were at my house watching football with us. If you asked, that is.

I'm just saving you the hassle of asking. :)

Questions? Comments? Anyone even care? :)


  1. I'm embarrassed to say I understand the downs part of football, but that's about it. Please continue the lessons!

  2. Thanks Sarah! During a recent game of touch football I had to ask "what is a blitz?" I still don't quite get it, even after two lengthy explanations on formations and play calling, etc. Give a girl a female friendly explanation?

  3. Could you please explain the pros of cons of running a zone blocking scheme against a 3-4 defensive front?

  4. Maggie and Virginia - I will do my best to answer your questions in my next post! :)

    Raynolds - Basically the linemen block zones rather than block defenders; I think this article will explain it better than I could: http://www.rockytoptalk.com/2009/3/31/815874/zone-blocking-tutorial-inside-zone
    By the way, you're a butthead.

  5. Like it! I have learned a lot about football the last 10 yrs I've been with Tyler. I still don't know everything about it either! I get confused with the punts (like why they sometimes don't touch it and othertimes pick it up/catch it and start running)And sometimes I get confused about field goals and when they can do them. Tyler goes into all the zones, schemes and plays, I don't even try to understand that!


Even if it's just to say "You so silly, Sarah" - please feel free to leave comments!


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