ITP Glossary: Oskie Call

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From 12 personnel to press man coverage, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Oskie Call

“Oskie” is the traditional defensive call that a player uses to inform his teammates that he will intercept the ball. The oskie call alerts the other defenders so that know they need to start blocking for the return.

In Defensive Football Strategies, Don James writes that his defensive backs should:

Intercept the ball at its highest point, and when you are sure of intercepting, call “oskie.”

Coordinated blocking by the defense can spring the intercepting player for a big return. The Carolina Panthers demonstrate that here:

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The Dallas Cowboys use a variant of the dagger concept to stress the deep middle area where Luke Kuechly (#59) is responsible. But Kuechly sees wide receiver Terrance Williams (#82) cut and jumps Williams’s dig route for the interception. The underneath defenders quickly recognize the turnover, perhaps alerted by an “oskie” call, and set up a convoy for Kuechly, who takes the interception 32 yards for a touchdown.

Not every team uses “oskie” to communicate an interception, but it is the traditional word used for the call. The exact etymology of the term is unknown, but it dates back to at least the 1930’s, as Tennessee Volunteers head coach General Robert Neyland included “oskie” as part of one of his seven maxims of Tennessee Football.

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Dave Archibald wrote this entry. Follow Dave on Twitter @davearchie.

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All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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