Football Quarterbacks - Leg Hitch?

Why does practically every quarterback, when he’s in the shotgun position, hitch up his leg before the snap?

He’s signalling the center to snap the ball.

I’ve heard that, but the center doesn’t usually snap the ball right away. Is there some delay involved?

The delay count is set in the huddle to keep the defenses from guessing on repeated plays.

What he said.

If a team is on the road in a loud stadium, they’ll usually use a silent count. At home (where the crowd will stay quiet when they’re on offense) they’ll use a normal count (hut, hut, hike etc.).

Moving to The Game Room.

General Questions Moderator

On a semi-related note, I finally found out what “Omaha!” means. Giants fans have no doubt seen Eli shouting “Omaha!” every other play throughout his career.

It means that the playclock is running out, so ignore whatever snap count was called in the huddle and instead go on first sound.

The delay isn’t necessarily built in for deception, but rather a product of the signal. Upthread someone said the QB is telling the center to snap the ball, which I don’t believe is strictly correct. The QB is telling the center they are ready to receive the snap, and the center then acts of his own discretion, usually snapping the ball a second or two after the signal. We called this snap count ‘Center Ready’ back in the day; I dunno whether they call it the same or something different in the NFL, or if it’s just understood in shotgun/longsnapping situations.

You can see it more plainly on field goal tries; the holder gives a hand signal, the center snaps at his leisure. It’s generally a bad idea to bark martial orders at a sweaty guy throwing a football blindly between his legs…

Sure about that? I mean, it makes sense in theory, but several times a game don’t we heard Eli shout “Omaha! Omaha! Hut…hut…” <snap>? I’ll have to go back and see, but it seems to me that he’ll let out several "hut"s before the snap.

It’s the signal for the snap count to begin- the one or two second count after the hitch is the predetermined part.

For why the QB’s using his leg as opposed to a hand signal, as an ex-center I can assure you the difference between just looking back to a quarterback’s feet and the extra effort required to actually look further up to his elevated hands is fairly pronounced. In other words, the less you’re asking someone to stick their head up their ass will be much appreciated, especially over the course of 50 or 60 snaps in a game.

It’s apparently a very common signal; certainly not unique to Eli or the Giants.

Since learning about it after the Browns game, I watched for it very closely in the 49ers game. Every time I heard Eli yell “Omaha!”, they snapped the ball on the first “hut.”

Also, once the QB does the leg hitch, the center, having his head in a very vulnerable situation, has to have time to look up, pre-snap, so the Very Large Angry Gentleman two inches away from him won’t kill him on his way to the QB.

You can run through a large number of centers if they aren’t looking to see who’s about to hit them.

This isn’t completely true. Hitting a center who’s head is down is against the rules precisely because it’s so vulnerable. This is why many long snappers are trained to simply keep their head down on punts and field goal attempts because line is tightly packed and they can’t just bull rush him. Shot gun is different because the line isn’t as tightly packed, so keeping his head down just means a stunt could easily go between him and the guard to either side. As such, he has to actually have his head up so he can block a tackle, pick up a blitz, or assist as needed.

It’s illegal to hit the deep snapper * in a kick formation*. The shotgun snapper is expected to get his head back up before he snaps the ball.

I will add that occasionally this same leg kick is to signal players to go in motion.