As high school students, many teenagers love the excitement of the Friday Night Lights and cheering for their beloved football team. Emotions run high as students celebrate touchdowns and mourn incomplete passes.
Many teens won't miss a single game during the season and further show their devotion and school spirit by painting their faces and dressing in radical and exciting attire.
But how much do high school students actually understand about this all-American sport? Do they understand what it means to get a first down, or do they merely scream and lose their voice because the rest of the crowd is doing it?
Let's take a knee and get the scoop about the Top of Utah teen IQ on football and, while we're at it, improve some of our own game smarts.
Q: What is the line of scrimmage?
* "Someone knocked over a trash can so there's a giant line of scrimmage." -- Sara Mathewson, Ogden High sophomore
* "I think it's where they start the ball?" -- Elizabeth Clark, Davis High senior
* "The line where scrimmage is." -- Sydni Lempka, Fremont High senior
* "It's when they get in the lines and tackle people." -- Cameron Needham, Ogden High sophomore
A: The location on the football field where the football is placed and the next play begins.
So how does basic football even work? In football, the offense is the team that has possession of the ball and their objective is to advance the football down the field to score. The defensive team's objective is to keep the offense from scoring any points.
A play starts at the line of scrimmage when the offensive center passes the football through his legs to the quarterback. The football is then moved forward by either running with the ball or passing it. The offensive team has four plays to move the ball forward at least 10 yards. When this happens, the team receives a first down; this team now has four more plays to move the ball at least 10 more yards.
If the team cannot advance the football 10 yards in four plays, the ball is turned over to the other team.
Q: What is a safety?
* "When the ref throws up a flag. It can be yellow or red." -- Bailey Adams, Bonneville High senior
* "A big blocker that keeps them safe." -- Shayla Shaw, Bonneville High sophomore
* "Where you're safe, kind of like in tag." -- Lempka
* "When you go to make a touchdown and you ... make it safely." -- Chelsea Burgess, Davis High senior
A: A safety is when a football player is tackled in his own end zone.
It is worth two points for the defensive team. A safety is also a position on the defensive team.
A safety is one of the five ways to score in football. The other ways include kicking a field goal (three points), getting a touchdown (six points), or getting an extra point or a two-point conversion. A field goal is scored when the offensive team kicks the football through the goal posts.
A touchdown occurs when a player from the offensive team either catches a pass or runs with the football into the opponent's end zone. An extra point is earned after scoring a touchdown by kicking the ball through the goal posts, or the team can score a two-point conversion by rushing or passing the football into the end zone.
Q: What is a nose guard?
"Guards your nose. (It's) a small rubbery item. It's probably like some person's job but ..." -- Jeff Herbert, Syracuse High junior
"Somebody that protects the middle because they have facemasks and mouth guards but they don't have nose guards." -- Brad Sherman, Syracuse High junior
"The person that has to ram the person with the football." -- Needham
"A nose guard would be someone who runs the ball ... " -- Burgess
"A thing in your nose so you don't break it." -- Aubree Stone, Fremont High junior
A: A nose guard is a defensive lineman that plays in the center of the D-line and tries to prevent the offense from rushing the ball.
Q: What is a place holder?
"Something that holds your mouth guard in place." -- Austin Southwick, Northridge High sophomore
"Put someone else in that is holding your place." -- Meagan Jordan, Northridge High sophomore
"It holds your spot in the playbook." -- Stone
"I play football and don't even know what a place holder is." -- Hilario Hernandez, Ogden High sophomore
"An object that a football is set upon usually placed in the third quadrant of the football field. Approximately six inches in height. Usually made from plastic or metal." -- Herbert
A: A place holder is the player that holds the ball for the kicker during a field goal.
A nose guard and a place holder are examples of positions that players can play on a football team. There are many positions; each position is focused on a specific role on the team. They fall into three categories: offensive, defensive and special teams. Special teams are the players that are involved in kickoffs, punts, extra points and field goals. These plays are also known as kicking plays.
Q: What is a blitz?
"A mistake." -- Jordan
"A Dairy Queen shake." -- Shaw
"I know that blitzkrieg is lightning war, so blitz would make me think of lightning." -- Amanda Mills, Syracuse High senior
"A blitz would probably be when you go to kick the ball in the U-shaped thing...?" -- Burgess
"I'm pretty sure that's a type of mint. I don't even know. I'll just say it's a type of quick play." -- Herbert
"It's like slang. It's a code the players use to call plays." -- Adams
A: A blitz is when the defensive team has players that would not normally rush the quarterback rush the quarterback. This is done in an effort to get a sack.
Q: What is a sack?
"What you carry the ball in." -- Shaw
"When the quarterback tackles the other guy." -- Adams
"When you throw someone down, like 'I sacked you, Fool?'ââ" - Stone
"When the opposing team tackles the person with the football hard on the ground." -- Needham
A: A sack is when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage while he is still in possession of the ball. This usually results in a loss of yardage.
A blitz is a football play that is often part of a defensive strategy. Every team has a unique approach to how they play in a football game; this is their strategy. A team's offensive strategy is its plan for how to will score and a team's defensive strategy is the team's plan for how they will keep the other team from scoring. To accomplish these goals a variety of different plays can be used.
Many different aspects contribute to the game of football. Many times some of the rules of the game can be confusing but don't worry! The rules can and will make sense eventually and if you don't understand something, there are people who can help.
As Burgess says when asked a football question, "I don't know. Can I ask a friend?"
TX. correspondents Dallin Abendroth, Davis High; Shane Goudy, Northridge High; Dylan Hansen, Syracuse High; Caitlynn Kindall, Ogden High; Jaycie Miller, Fremont High, and Mackenzie Stevens, Bonneville High, contributed to this story.
* * *
Michelle Thurgood is a junior at Syracuse High School. She enjoys gymnastics and playing the clarinet. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.