Terminology for football: Cadence/Snap Counts Quarterback lingo to get the play set and started

The cadence is defined as the words, phrases and or numbers that the QB uses to get the offense set prior to the snap of the ball. It occurs whether the QB is under center or in the shotgun. Some teams use a live/dummy color system. Green 9, Green 9 can mean let’s go with the play called in the huddle. A team can have a live color from week to week, so Gold 14, Gold 14 can have a designated meaning to change the play while Brown 14, Brown 14 is meaningless. Audibles are  used when the Quarterback wants to change the play. He might be simply changing a protection, and this leads up to his cadence.   If you listen to various QB’s over time you can pick up what their normal cadence is. Former Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning made “Omaha” famous because the microphone would pick up his voice. He wasn’t the first, or last, to use it, but it has been associated with him.

Hearing Cam Newton during a game (far more than I care to, because I’m Kevin with Cable), he starts  his cadence with a deep long “REEAADDY”, set  hut. Teams primarily use the same cadence to help lull the defense into a pattern, and then break out a secondary cadence to try to get them to jump offsides. Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers was/are among the best at this in recent years, as were John Elway and Dan Marino before them. It’s a great tool QB’s use to gain an easy five yards and get into the defensive lineman’s head.

Some words are dummy calls/dummy audibles for show, some mean stay with the first play that was called, some mean flip the play call,  a sweep to the right magically comes a sweep to the left.  The dummy calls are to get the defense to show their hand and shift or move to tip their hand. Teams get creative with changing certain things from week to week. For example, “Ball Coach”, “Gator”, “Florida”, “Steve” and “Spurrier” have all been used and I’d be willing to bet they each meant the same thing in general, unless they were switched on purpose.

As mentioned above, the offensive team can get used to a quarterback’s rhythm and sound of his voice, so when QB2 comes into the game, they have to focus more because the timing, rhythm and voice are slightly different.

Here is an example from a rivals 2004 playbook discussing the Cadence in the huddle and the Line of Scrimmage. For a hint, they are from the Northeast and their fans generally have horrid accents:

Let’s make it a two-for-Tuesday and piggyback the Snap Count into this since it is part of the cadence.

While the cadence helps get the offense set and directed into the right play, the Snap Count actually gets the play started.

Some examples are as follows:  At times teams go on the  “First Sound”, this a lower level type concept simply because in the NFL game, college and even some high schools, there is more checking and audibling at the line of scrimmage.  “First Count“, would generally be Numbers/Words and the ball is snapped on the first “hut” or “go”.  “Long Count”, could be any number of “huts” or “go go go ” This can be changed week to week to counter the scouting and tendencies that opponents chart out prior to the game.

Here is an example from that same North Eastern Team and their “snap counts”.

To show variance, differences and even similarities from the same page from the great Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. A form of this page is likely cemented in the hybrid WCO’s that coaches are running today.

Two entirely different offenses from a conceptual standpoint, but both have very similar structures in calling a play in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage and snapping the ball, which is to be expected.



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