What is a Short Yardage Situation in Football?
A short yardage situation in football is a play in which very few yards are needed to reach a first down or touchdown. Short yardage situations can occur on any down, and the only specification for it is that there are not many yards to gain. In short yardage situations on fourth down, failure to pick up the necessary yardage results in a turnover on downs.
Types of Short Yardage Situations
While both the goal line and the first down marker require just a short distance each has its differences as well. Going for a touchdown and six points has a much different effect on the game than just one first down.
At the goal line, the conversion of the short yardage situation matters more for the outcome of the game. The defense does everything it can to prevent the offense from scoring. One tactic used is taking advantage of the small area and crowding the line of scrimmage. Offenses have less options with the back of the endzone limiting deep plays.
First Down Line
The main difference between needing to reach a first down and a touchdown is the amount of space on the field. Defenses can still jam the middle, but are susceptible to a deep play over the top. An offense can run pretty much any play in their playbook giving them the upper hand.
Short Yardage Situation Strategies
Different teams have different strategies when faced with a short yardage situation. Teams with dominant running games do not think twice when faced with short yardage while teams without an identity have to mull it over.
Goal Line Package
Play action is a high-risk high-reward play type. The goal is to trick the defense into thinking it is a run only to fake the handoff and throw it to a lightly covered receiver. However due to the defense jamming the middle this play type needs to be executed quickly before the defense gets to the quarterback.