Option Football History: The Split-T Center/QB Exchange

In the last post we explored the quarterbacks path in the Split-T and discussed how this helped to make the offense more effective.  We will continue to explore the mechanical aspects Faurot named as being important to the success of his scheme. Today we will discuss how Faurot taught the Center/QB Exchange .

  1. Line Splits
  2. Quarterback Path
  3. Center/QB Exchange
  4. Play Sequence
  5. Backfield Stance
  6. Ball Handling
  7. Position Requirements
  8. Flexibility

With the exception of the kickoff, every play in the game of football begins with the center snapping the ball to a member of the backfield. Sometimes its a running back or a punter, but in most cases, the ball is given to the quarterback. This is known as the Center/Quarterback Exchange, and is an integral part of offensive football. It was the T-Formation offenses that started snapping the ball directly to the quarterback, and this was usually accomplished with a two-handed snap.

Factors to Consider for the Center

The offensive center’s stance and grip on the ball for the Split-T Formation.

Faurot preferred his centers to use one hand and to extend the ball out in front of them as far as possible. The stance is in the photo to the right. Note: Photos from Don Faurot’s book Secrets of the Split T Formation. (Affiliate Link).

This accomplished two things. The first is more leverage on the snap. More leverage means a faster snap and a faster snap means the quarterback has the ball more quickly.  Secondly, it gives the guards and tackles room to move closer to the line of scrimmage. So now the quarterback can get out from under center faster and is able to run his path without tripping over the lineman’s feet.

Along with his stance and grip on the ball, the center should focus on keeping his hips high. This will allow a relatively higher exchange and enable the quarterback to be quicker in getting to his path. Faurot taught his centers to place the left arm on the knee and to put some weight out on the ball. He believed both would help with the center’s ability to fire off of the line of scrimmage.

Finally, the center should keep his eyes up and on the defense.

The quarterback’s stance and hand position for the Split-T Formation.

Factors to Consider for the Quarterback

The Split-T quarterback  aligns under center and should place his hands as shown in the photograph to the left.

The quarterback should focus on keeping the heels of his hands pressed firmly together and keeping his fingers relaxed as he waits for the ball. This will allow him to receive the snap more effectively and will help to eliminate issues with the exchange. We can also see that the hands are placed side by side rather than on top of one another.

The quarterback should also keep his elbows and knees flexed. This will allow him to absorb the snap and move quickly in either direction. His feet are even and slightly wider than shoulder width apart with most of his weight shifted forward on the balls of his feet. Again, this will help in the ability to move laterally quickly.

The quarterback should remain relaxed and capable of seeing the entire defense with minimal movement of his head. It is imperative to see the fronts and alignment being used by the other team.

The Exchange

Faurot indicated when the quarterback is under center he should be able to see the knuckles of his thumbs. This, along with the higher snap, is how Faurot manipulated the exchange to allow for the quick release of the quarterback.

When the center snaps the ball he is to bring it straight back, placing the ball point end first into the waiting hands of the quarterback. Again this should be done with a quick hard movement as the center steps to his assignment. Simultaneously the quarterback should be providing pressure with the top of his hands, effectively pushing the center forward, as he receives the ball. This helps to minimize fumbles and helps the center be more effective in his blocking assignments.  This is beneficial against 50 fronts that utilize good players at the nose tackle position. The center needs to be able to block this shade effectively in order to run the option.

To emphasize the point, Faurot taught a higher snap, with the quarterback already partially disengaged to facilitate a fast release into the quarterback’s path. He also emphasized the need for the quarterback to practice moving laterally with his feet as he pushed the center forward into his block. Faurot felt this could be accomplished with minimal fumbles if the exchange is practic enough. The photos below show the quarterback under center and how the exchange looks after the ball is snapped.

The quarterback in position under center prior to the snap in the Split T Formation.
The center snaps the ball to the quarterback for the exchange as taught by Faurot for the Split T Formation.



Faurot tailored his center/quarterback exchange to meet the needs of his system and to better facilitate the option football attack he developed. He focused primarily on the quarterback’s ability to get into his lateral path down the line of scrimmage. Again, much of what we do in option football today is soundly grounded in the techniques and strategies developed by Faurot and the Split-T Formation. In the next installment we will begin to look at the option football sequence as Faurot explains it. He calls it one of the “finest sequences of plays in football.”