Max Shortell likes the chess match of it all. It's exhausting, he says, but rewarding when you do it well.
"It" is reading the defense, figuring out whether the linebackers or safeties are blitzing, and then adjusting the play -- sometimes before the snap, sometimes after.
"A lot of times, it's a guessing game," the sophomore quarterback said. "It's hard. It takes a lot of film study to kind of get used to what (the defense) will do."
Against Syracuse last Saturday, he prepared for blitzing. Good thing, because the Orange blitzed all night.
"They brought multiple linebackers from the field and did some things up the middle. We knew they weren't going to bring much from the edge, but they did every once in awhile," Shortell said. "They kind of got in a rhythm in their blitzes, and I was able to get into the flow of the game."
"He did a good job of recognizing it. They fooled him a few times, showed blitz and backed out, but we tried to account for that on our checks," said Gophers coach Jerry Kill. "You can see how smart he is."
Good vision, too. No matter what the defense shows him, Shortell has to react to what they actually do once the ball is snapped.
"As the ball comes, I see people out of the corner of my eye, and once I get my head up, I try to get my eyes on the safety to see who's actually coming on the blitz," Shortell said. "That's part of being a quarterback, making quick decisions and making the right reads fast."