The easiest answer to the question why do quarterbacks say 180 before snapping the ball is simply that they don’t. What you are hearing is actually the quarterback saying “white eighty”. This term is most commonly used as a cadence to let his teammates know that he is ready to start the play.
What Exactly Does White Eighty Mean?
White eighty itself doesn’t actually have an exact meaning. Instead, this term is used as a verbal cue to let the team know the quarterback is ready to hut the ball. Oftentimes teams use a combination of colours and numbers as this verbal cue.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers typically use the call “Green 19” when he is ready to snap the ball. The colour and the number used do not have any meaning themselves. White 80 which is often heard as “one-eighty” is the most common phrase used for this cue.
Why Does A Quarterback Have To Let The Team Know He Is Ready?
You may be wondering why the quarterback needs to let everyone know he is ready since they just left the huddle. The reason for this is the quarterback has to make several decisions after the huddle and before the ball is snapped.
A quarterback first must take a look at the defensive formation. At this point, he may want to call an audible. This means he can change the play if he thinks the defensive formation is going to stop his current play.
The quarterback may also want to call out and identify players. Lines like “58 is the mike” or “54 is the will” all refer to players positions being identified by the quarterback. This helps players on the offense understand who is who on the defense.
If the quarterback has decided not to call an audible and has identified the players he wishes to it is now time to start the cadence.
It is at this point he will state “180” aka white eighty. This says to his team I’m done looking at the defense we are about to start this play.
You may even notice offensive and defensive players shift their stance once they hear “180” or white eighty called.
This is becuase they know the play is about to begin.
Alternative Uses For Calls Like White Eighty (180)
For the vast majority of plays you hear a quarterback yell 180 or white eighty it simply means he is about to start the play. But in some situations, you he may be using this term as a sort of trick.
A football strategy referred to as a hard count utilizes verbal cues like this to trick the opposing team into thinking they are going to snap the ball.
If the opponent thinks you are going to snap the ball and starts the play prematurely he will be penalized. Giving the offense a free five yards. The way to get the defensive players to jump offside is by tricking them. Defensive players will only jump offside if they think they know when the play will start.
Saying the phrase 180 or white eighty gives them the cue the play is about to start. This will get the defensive players ready to go. At this point a quarterback can give out a few more lines such as “hut hut hut” or ” set hut”.
Oftentimes this is enough to convince the defense the play is starting causing them to jump offside. In conclusion, white eighty is almost always used to let the offense know the ball is about to be snapped. But on some occasions, it can be used as a deception to trick the other team into jumping offside.