A term for the particular cadence that a quarterback will use to signal to his team when the play is to begin. The count is predetermined between the quarterback and the center, and communicated to the team based on a particular set of words either announced in the huddle or by audible or silent queues at the line of scrimmage. A good offense will vary the count that they use in order to keep the defense off balance and give the offensive players an advantage.
The count is the audible language that a quarterback yells prior to the ball being snapped. Teams will change the count on each and every play to avoid giving the defense any clues as to whether the play is going to start. The more off-balance that a defense is, the bigger an advantage the offense has in the early moments of a play. The quarterback may have to adjust the count prior to the snap of the ball based on audibles or other changes made at the line of scrimmage.