OT Best Source to Learn Football Xs and Os

Submitted by Shalom Lansky on September 8th, 2009 at 3:10 PM

I've come to the point in my football watching life where I'm no longer content with my superficial understanding of football. I never played and only know things mentioned on football broadcasts, where announcers generally refuse to educate the audience regarding the nuts and bolts and Xs and Os of football.

I love reading posts (from Brian and others) regarding Michigan's schemes, blocking assignments etc. but without a solid base of football knowledge I'm often lost.

Can anyone recommend a book giving a good primer on football schemes and formations?


david from wyoming

September 8th, 2009 at 3:18 PM ^

This will sound uber-nerd, but I end up experimenting a lot using video games. I had no clue how the 3-3-5 worked in real life when Rich Rod was hired, I fired up my current copy of ncaa football and starting running plays. How can I stop runs and passes? Can the 3-3-5 stop power runners one down then speed runners the next? ...just try it out.

Yes, I'm a scientist.


September 8th, 2009 at 3:57 PM ^

Just get a fast DE and play a zone blitz. Rush your DE from the opposite side of your blitz. This will work most of the time. You will have enough coverage for the pass, the blitz will cover the run, and your DE gets to the QB. Works pretty well for me. Some really experienced players can get around it though.

david from wyoming

September 8th, 2009 at 7:20 PM ^

No offense, but I think you totally miss my point. Say you are in a goal line defensive situation, and your opponent have been short passing all game. What do you do? Man, zone, what formation, blitzes, throw a bunch of D-linemen on the field or go for more corners? All are options, but what works the best?

With a video game you can repeat the same situation as many times, experimenting with different defensive calls until you figure out what works. Then you can think about why it's working better then other defensive calls and follow the action from different angles with replay, following one player to figure out his job for that play call.


September 8th, 2009 at 4:17 PM ^

is where you can really bone up on your history, which you'll need for true fanhood mastery. All teams records are broken down in so many ways, the database is great. For a good time, check out UM's all-time record vs. the SEC.


September 8th, 2009 at 4:46 PM ^

I too wish I knew more. My problem is that I don't process the action fast enough to have any idea what's going on anywhere other than the person that has the ball at any given moment. Even on replays I don't pick up much... Someday...


September 8th, 2009 at 5:47 PM ^

...is that- in my opinion- broadcasts pay too much attention to offensive alignments and you don't see much focus on the secondary, which is key. They break to the sidelines or booth in between plays when it would be great to see what's going on pre-snap. The offense gets to see where/how the defense lines up but TV broadcasts don't lend themselves very well to that.


September 8th, 2009 at 5:41 PM ^

...I bought "Football for Dummies" some years ago. It's a decent read. Anyone that's ever played football would be bored-to-death by it but a casual observer of the game would probably find it pretty informative. There's a lot of useless stuff (e.g., "The 10 greatest coaches of all time") but it does a fairly good job of breaking down different offensive/defensive alignments and what types of situations call for different types of plays. It spells a lot of stuff out for you that Chris Brown (of Smart Football) would take for granted that his audience is familiar with. I'd only recommend it if you're a real novice, though. Reading it and playing NCAA Football was helpful for me.


September 8th, 2009 at 6:28 PM ^

...a good study of "Football for Dummies" (the front part, not the back part with the silly lists) will teach you your x's and o's and give you a basic set of formations you can learn to recognize.

Smart Football is like Advanced French - it assumes you've got the vocabulary and it's explaining the pluperfect tense and the idea of a gerund to you. It's really good at explaining, but get the vocabulary first.

The best advice I ever got about trying to learn the game is to pick a player to follow rather than the ball. The offensive is trying very heard to confuse the defense about where the ball even IS, and up from our viewpoint in Row 94 my eyeballs are constantly juked out and I miss the some of the most interesting parts of a play. My personal football Yoda sometimes assigns me a particular player to concentrate on for a drive, so I can work out what that position is supposed to do. His standards are high he is a football jedi.

This works better live than on TV - so go to all home games, always.


September 8th, 2009 at 6:19 PM ^

basic principles of football courses, if you're really dedicated. Maybe you could get your hands on a coursepack instead of actually taking the class, just throwin' ideas out there.

Enjoy Life

September 8th, 2009 at 7:50 PM ^

I'd suggest that you DVR the game and then wait for Brian's UFR.

Then, replay the game on the DVR in slow-mo after you have read the UFR for that specific play.

Also, with the DVR you can watch the same play over and over. Look at the line play one time, then the receivers on the second time, perhaps the D on the third time. Time consuming but very informative.