Football for Dummies

September 9, 2016

This blog post is basically the blind leading the blind. While I don’t know much about football, I have learned the basics enough to cheer on the Trojans.

If you are not a big fan of football, I’ll just say that going to the student section of a USC football game transcends a person’s like or dislike of the game – it’s an experience. However, you can also follow other USC athletic teams in the fall:

  • Basketball (men/women): starting November (away and home games)
  • Cross-country (women): starting September (all away games)
  • Golf (men/women): starting September (all away games)
  • Soccer (women): starting September (away and home games)
  • Swimming/Diving (men/women): starting September (home and away games)
  • Tennis (men/women): starting September (home and away games)


  1. What is the purpose of the game?  To win with the highest score!
  2. When do teams switch from offense to defense? If the team on offense fails to move the ball 10 yards in 4 downs, the teams switch. If they move the ball all the way to the end zone and score a touchdown, then the teams switch. If there is an interception, the teams switch.
  3. How many players are on the team? There are 11 players at any given time – 11 on offense, and 11 on defense
  4. Who is the most important? Arguably (not really) – the quarterback. He does not start each play with the ball, but another player “hikes” it, or throws it, to him. The quarterback then passes the ball to a receiver or running back. Sometimes, the QB runs with the ball, but he is like the king in a chess game; he must be protected from the other team’s defensive line.
  5. How does scoring work? Each touchdown is worth 6 points. Then, the team who scored gets the chance to kick the ball in between the tall posts at the end of the field. If the ball goes in between them, they get an extra point for a total of 7. Each field goal is 3 points.


Kicking the flagpoles at the end of Trousdale on the way to a home game for good luck

Fight On sign: The Victory sign with the palm facing outwards

Fight Song

“Beat the [fill in the mascot for the football team USC is playing next]” -> Beat the Aggies!


Coliseum: The LA Coliseum is where the USC Trojans play all their home games

Down:  A down is basically a “chance” for the team playing offense to move the football forward 10 yards. After each play, the distance the ball traveled is calculated. If it travled more than 10 yards, the next offensive play becomes a first down again. The team then gets 4 more chances to move the ball 10 yards. If it traveled less than 10 yards, the next play becomes the second down. There are 4 downs.

Field goal: When the ball is kicked by a member of the special teams and it goes in between the tall posts at the end of the field.

Fumble: When someone who is thrown the ball does not catch it or they catch it and drop the ball. The ball should never hit the ground. The play is stopped and it automatically becomes the next down.

Interception: An interception happens when the defensive team catches a ball in the air or after a fumble that was supposed to be caught by a player on the offensive team. The offensive team’s turn ends even if they were only on their first down.

Sack: when the quarterback is tackled. He’s the “king” remember? And needs to be protected.

Touchdown: This score happens when the offensive team either runs into the end zone (large rectangle drawn on the ground on either side of the field) or throws a ball to an offensive player who catches it in the end zone

Published on September 9th, 2016

Last updated on January 20th, 2021