Reporting Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It is football’s foreign language. The quarterback yelling, “Red- 24! Red 24! Hut! Hut! Hike!”
But what is the quarterback saying at the line of scrimmage?
The University of St. Thomas Football Tommies were very worried about letting us shoot video of their quarterback. The team is 11 and 0. They don’t want anyone to steal their quarterback’s secret play calls.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is far less paranoid. His team is 2-8, maybe that’s why.
He gave us an example of a call: “One right wing, 35 Bob, Edge, Jinx!
“A standard play, gettin’ up there, you start with a down call…to make sure everyone’s set,” Ponder said.
So the down call is pretty much some nonsense talk, then when everyone’s ready, the real call comes.
“And then you have a series of color, number, color, number,” he said.
Every team has a different code: What colors are meaningful changes as well as what each color means. Ponder said his team listens for the hot color, the color that signals an audible is happening.
“I could say, you know, ‘purple 34!’ Oh, you know, that’s the hot color,” he said. “That’s not our hot color… or it could be,” he laughed.
One color might mean run. Another pass. The numbers tell the team which play it is.
“It could go from a run play to a passing play. I mean, it could change pretty drastically,” he said.
Another example call: “Right. Y-Mo. 3, 15 O.P. Naked right arrow F. Pump,” he yelled.
Part of the magic of the count is knowing when the center is supposed to hike the ball. And that gets messed up, like it did in Sunday’s second quarter against the Oakland Raiders.
“A certain color means a certain snap count, but it’s the first year, we’re still learning,” Ponder said.
Sometimes quarterbacks will use a hard count, verbally emphasizing the third “hut” when the fifth “hut” means snap the ball. The goal is to draw the other team offsides.
“The good thing for us, we have a wristband, if there’s a really, really long play that’s kind of hard to spit out, we’ll write it on the wristband,” Ponder laughed.