Fan support and the art of timing it right for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

“Be Loud and Be Proud” is more than just a trendy phrase, it is part of a home field advantage when done correctly, at the right time, and in unison.  More importantly, it is something that all of the Tech faithful need to do at every home game for the Yellow Jacket Football Team this season in order to have a tremendous home field advantage at Bobby Dodd Stadium.  As a player, that is what motivates you throughout the game when you’re tired and maybe everything isn’t go the way everyone expected it to on game day.  This is where the fans can really help to energize the entire squad and provide the impetus for a change or shift in momentum at critical points throughout the course of the game as a vocal, but more importantly, an intelligent participant.

When the Jackets are on defense, the more noise the better given that it has a huge impact on an opposing team’s offensive signal calling, and severely limits its ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage.  This becomes a very important tool to minimize and alter the game plan for our opponent by taking away his primary resource to quickly change out of the play that they intended to use, and switching up to another play that will have a more successful impact based upon the particular alignment of our defense.  For example, more defensive players closer to the line of scrimmage in the so called “Box”, makes for a better opportunity for the offense to change (check out) their play call to a passing play with a quick slant to a receiver, or perhaps a seam route straight down the field to a tight end who can now fire quickly off the line of scrimmage unopposed and be wide open on a pass play for a big gain.

Given that most of the offensive side of the college football world has fallen in love with the new “spread” formation where the quarterback is now seven yards behind the center in the “shotgun formation”, his ability to yell out signals is severely hampered by his distance away from his teammates.  If you watch a college game with a team using the spread formation, you will notice that their quarterbacks all pick-up their leg and bring it back down, or use a hand signal to let the center know when to snap the football.  Until that specific FINAL signal to the center is executed by the quarterback, he is doing the following two things:

1.  He is looking over at his coaches on the side line who are determining what play call they will make for the next play.  The sideline coach is awaiting the play call from his offensive coordinator or another offensive coach who is upstairs in the press box coaching section watching the game up high so he can see the defensive formations, coverage, personnel shifts (who is coming in and who is going off the field for the next play), and other variables being used throughout the game, and make his own counter moves in this ongoing game of chess to determine based on the down and distance involved, what his next play call will be that is then sent downstairs to the coaches on the sideline to signal into the quarterback;

2.  After the quarterback receives the play call he tells his teammates and they begin to line up in the formation that is associated with the play that he has just received from his sideline coaches, who in turn got it from their coach in the press box.  Given that the “spread” offense does not use a huddle to tell everyone the next play, they all stand around or “mill about” in a random manner until they need to line up for the play.  As this is going on, the sideline coaches who are in constant contact with the coach upstairs are also talking back and forth about which defensive players are going in and out for the defense.  Once the defense has their 11 players on the field for the play, even if they are coming in from the sideline, that is who they are committed to playing with on the field for the next play.  It is the same as the defense actually having a huddle with their players on the field.  After that happens, and the coaches send in a different player for one already on the field, you are hit with a penalty for illegal participation.  This is all part of the approach of the “spread” offense.

Now, the best way to counter all of this game of “wait and see” by the offense, is to wait until they finally line up at the line of scrimmage, which they usually do with about 12-15 seconds remaining on the 40 second play clock (25 seconds under certain circumstances) which is located on both of the scoreboards in each end zone.  It is at this point that the offense will then make their FINAL decision to change the play to one that they feel will work better against the defensive formation and personnel now in the game that they are now seeing the Yellow Jackets committed to for their next play. 

Here is how we as fans can help out our defense to be successful as a unit.  During that last 12-15 seconds remaining on the play clock, stand up and “BE LOUD AND PROUD.”  Remember, the quarterback has to get the attention of all of his teammates by yelling to them from SEVEN YARDS AWAY.  Don’t you think that will be very challenging, if not impossible for him to do with 55,000 Yellow Jackets yelling over him in his efforts to tell his team the “last minute change in plans.”   This is where it really gets to be fun for the fans and makes them feel that they are truly a part of the team’s efforts on the field.  The quarterback has to walk over closer to his teammates and tell them face to face what the new play is going to be used instead of the original one.  This is called an audible. 

By being “LOUD AND PROUD” at the right time, and in unison as a crowd, the play clock is constantly running down and he (quarterback) doesn’t want his team to get a penalty for delay of game.  So he quickly calls for a time out.  You only get 3 timeouts in each half of the game.  Given that you want to keep those available for use at the end portion of the first half, and the end of the game, by burning one or two or all three of them up early, we effectively become another defender on the field.  This is our field, Grant Field!  We need to start doing our part and being recognized as a tough place to play due to the crowd noise.  For example, Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon where the Oregon Ducks play all of their home games has a seating capacity of guess what, 55,000.  The loudest decibel reading that was ever recorded during a football game was at a game at Autzen Stadium when it only held around 53,000.  This is the best homefield advantage in ALL of college football!  Sorry SEC and the Big Ten.

It is louder than Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, and Tennessee, all of which can hold more than 100,000 fans on game day.  Think about it.  Oregon fans can make more noise than stadiums twice their size.  Autzen Stadium holds the same amount of fans as does Bobby Dodd.  So how can a smaller stadium crowd make more noise than those huge places, and even be louder than Sanford Stadium at UGA?  Because they know when to cheer and how to be effective in doing it! 

All we need to do now is get as smart and become more effective in our collective cheering just like the Ducks in Autzen!  Once again, proving “Size” doesn’t matter (Kind of like “5 stars”).  Provided we all get off our collective butts and do our part as fans this season and give our team a boost both verbally and emotionally.  And remember; “YOU DON’T NEED TO SCREAM AT ALL WHEN OUR OFFENSE IS ON THE FIELD!!!!”  They might need to actually hear our quarterback’s signals being called!  Do it after they score a touchdown!

So some of you reading this will say; “But can’t the other team’s fans do the same thing to us when we play at their stadium?”  Sure, but it doesn’t matter because of the offense we utilize.  We don’t use the shotgun, our quarterback is under center all the time.  The best part of the option is that you don’t need to audible much since you are running a play that allows for your quarterback to in essence “audible” as the play is being executed and he is making those decisions as the defensive players commit to the B-Back, the A-Back , or the quarterback on each play, leaving someone available to make a positive gain on each play.  Folks we have a great season on the horizon to look forward to, now it is time to step and become an active part of it.

This is a recast of this article that I provide each season in advance of a big game at BDS, such as the one this Saturday against the North Carolina Tar Heels.  Go Jackets!


  • Michaelgoldfeder

    Even though it showed we only had 47,000 at BDS on Saturday, they were sure into the game and making a ton of noise.  I know the team really appreciates that type of true fan support.  We passed the first real test of the 2011 season, now time to get ready to hit the road at NC State next Saturday.  My Tar Heel game review should be out on Monday.

  • William A Casino Jr

    Hey Mike, reprint from a few years back – I recognize it. It’s as true now as it was then. The fan base is the extra man on the field. I think it proved true at the UNC game.

    Go Jackets! THWG!