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From The Archives: What is the Clap Cadence?

Every team has their own way of handling the cadence, but recently many teams have been using a clap cadence. So what is it?



Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State using the clap cadence against Kansas - Getty Images - J Pat Carter

Editor’s Note: This piece was pulled from the LGG archines. It was originally published on October 30, 2015 by Thomas Fleming.

A new craze has been spreading across college football, have you noticed it? Some teams use a leg kick, a hand gesture, or the traditional “set, hut” call to signal when to snap the ball, but many teams have adopted the new clap cadence prior to the start of the 2015 season.

The clap cadence, a strategy most famously used by current Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, has made its way into the majority of FBS conferences. The Big 12 is no different, with Oklahoma State, Texas, and Baylor using the cadence to some extent.

So what is the clap cadence, and why do so many teams use it?

With this cadence, the quarterback claps his hands to signs to the center that the ball should be snapped. This tactic is considered to be more effective than oral cadences, as the sound of the clap slices through the crowd more effectively than a vocal one. This also keeps everyone’s eyes forward, as opposed to looking at the center to watch when the ball is snapped.

Here, you can hear it’s effectiveness as Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph uses it against Kansas State.

One would think that this style could get predictable, and it does on occasion, but the count can be changed up just like any other cadence. The quarterback can mix up the timing by going on a two count after the clap, or by faking a clap motion to try to get defenses to jump.

Both the fake clap and the changing of the count are key to keeping defenses honest, and if they are not properly utilized, the defense will be able to consistently jump the snap. However, quarterbacks who are familiar with the system know how to utilize these tactics to mess with a defense’s head. In those cases, this cadence can be more effective than them all.