Looking for sources of Football Education

Tubafore

Scout Team
Dec 13, 2018
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Huntsville, AL
(Career band kid here.) I've watched from the stands for years; I've cheered/jeered/etc. the whole nine. But I never played the game. I want to be a more educated fan and be able to discuss the game at a deeper level than "X tackled Y for {some yardage} and that was/wasn't exciting."

I'm looking for recommendations for books or whatnot to better understand the game. Something that will explain what, for example, zone blocking is or when a wheel route is most effective. I can google any of these topics individually of course, but that is far less structured and relies on knowing what questions to ask.

So, what do y'all recommend to correct my football ignorance?
 
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Tubafore

Scout Team
Dec 13, 2018
100
114
67
Huntsville, AL
Go to your nearest high school. Watch and listen. The JV squads is where you will learn the basics. Volunteer to help out and you get a much closer view. Talk to the coaches and tell them you want to learn and help.
If only I had a reasonable excuse to be at a high school during practice time...just 9 more years until my oldest will be there.

Football for Dummies, no offense meant toward you or anyone wanting to learn more about the game.
I used the term "ignorance" about me to open up the floor for more defamatory words :) Great suggestion!

I recommend both of these books to folks wanting a deeper understanding of the game:

The Essential Smart Football

The Art of Smart Football
These are perfect, thank you!
 
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Ole Man Dan

Hall of Fame
Apr 21, 2008
7,714
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Gadsden, Al.
Read the post on TideFans. We have some very knowable fans, some coaches who really know the game, then there is the rest of us.
Don't hesitate to ask questions, we have folks who know, and keep up with stats, like they were Birthdays for their wife or kids.
 

AUDub

Hall of Fame
Dec 4, 2013
13,170
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Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
I'm afraid I'd be a pretty poor teacher. Been trying to explain basic concepts to my wife for the better part of a decade and I can't even get her to retain what "down and distance" means.

Football is a very intricate game, so I'm afraid you might have a long road ahead of you depending on how deep you want to dive in. There's a lot of rote memorization and pattern recognition involved.

Not going to lie it helps tremendously to have played. I consider myself lucky. Got to play in multiple offensive and defensive systems at the high school level. Sophomore year in HS we ran Marty Rozell's pass heavy West Coast offense. Junior and Senior years Hal Riddle came in and installed his Wing-T, a triple option offense with a lot of pre-snap motion and misdirection. Defensively, we ran a 50 my sophomore year and a 4-3 my junior and senior years.

This is a good compendium explaining the various concepts you'll encounter, but as you can see it's pretty extensive and even then doesn't come close to covering everything. Site doesn't cover a lot of the base offenses. Most fans here can tell you what the Wishbone offense is (a run heavy, option based scheme) seeing as Bama ran it extensively under the Bear, but it's not covered on that site, and I'll bet money when I said Wing-T above I might as well have been speaking a foreign language.

But it does a good job breaking down other things. "Was that running play an inside zone or a duo?" Even folks with a trained eye often mix them up. This site has articles that go in depth on both concepts.

For passing concepts, the name I'd first recommend looking up is Lavell Edwards. His fingerprints are all over that site I linked above. This is the man that codified pretty much every basic modern passing concept in a fairly simple package. With that as a baseline, you'll start to recognize intricacies in the passing game - beyond simply knowing "Devonta ran a post route" - that you may not recognize now.

"That was a mesh."

"That was a smash."

"That was a flood."

"The Y (in most offensive systems this is the tight-end) ran a stick route and sat down when he found the hole in the defensive zone."

And so on and so forth. The site above breaks down each concept in depth. You'll eventually start recognizing route trees, the order of the QB's reads, how one of the receivers was running a route that was basically a decoy to get someone else open or how a receiver's route was dependent upon the coverage etc.
 

AUDub

Hall of Fame
Dec 4, 2013
13,170
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Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
A couple of foundational concepts:

Let's take a simple play I ran in high school and is still a staple of offenses today.

This is a 4 verticals concept:


The playcalling scheme for passing we used under Riddle was fairly simple. In this instance, this play was simply known as "544."

That 544 tells you all you would need to know. Passing plays were 3 digit numbers as their most basic.

The 5 at the beginning tells you the QB's drop and the resulting pass pro scheme for the offensive line. A 5 indicates a 5 step drop for the QB. The alternative would be a 3, meaning the play was a 3 step drop, which changes the pass pro for the offensive line with the expectation that the ball will be out quicker.

The 44 tells you the routes being run. The first digit is the outside receivers and the second is the inside receivers. On our route tree, the 4 was a basic fly route.

So a 544 boils down to "5 step drop, inside and outside receivers running fly routes." Simple, right?

Now what happens when the play call was "507?" On our route tree, a 0 was a hitch route while a 7 was a corner route.

Well now you get a basic smash concept, a foundational play against zone coverages.


Running plays were simple too. For instance, out most basic running play was "30 Trap."



The 3 tells you it was going to the FB (fullback was 3, tailback was 2, QB was 1 and wingback was 4), the 0 tells you which hole he was expected to hit (0 was the hole directly to the right of center) and the trap told you the blocking scheme. In this case, the play side of the line, center, left tackle and tight end would block down, blocking the first warm body they hit, while the backside guard would pull to his right to "TRAP" the nose tackle immediately to the right of the center, freeing up the runner for a gain.
 

RTR2u

Hall of Fame
Nov 30, 2013
7,212
332
102
Georgia
Being female, AND a band nerd, I've learned tons and tons just participating in the game forums here. I've asked questions of the guys here and they've never once talked down to me. AUDub's post above was helpful, too. I attend the local high school games here and enjoy them very much, and I watch every single play. I have to say the game forums here make the game much more enjoyable to me because I understand it more as a result.
 
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uafan4life

Hall of Fame
Mar 30, 2001
12,713
2,994
287
40
Florence, AL
I'm afraid I'd be a pretty poor teacher. Been trying to explain basic concepts to my wife for the better part of a decade and I can't even get her to retain what "down and distance" means...
To be fair, you can't expect her to be that intelligent; she married a Barner, after all...
;-D
 
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Padreruf

Hall of Fame
Feb 12, 2001
6,082
6,062
287
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Charleston, South Carolina
When younger I would get so angry (internal) at fans who sat around me and had no clue about football strategy, etc. Why were they at the game? Later I realized it wasn't about the game for many...just about the party, etc.

I am not a great fan of the violent nature of football...I like the targeting rule. I do love the "chess match" nature of football and seeing a coach out maneuver another...