By Cory Sauter, Head Football Coach
We emphasize the Red Zone for our “No Sweat” Thursday practice. Everything is at half speed. To keep our player’s minds from wandering, we have made it our goal to have a “Penalty-Free Thursday”. We do not want to commit any penalties that we can control (False start, Illegal Procedure, Illegal Formation, etc.). We switched to this style of practice on Thursday’s and have found that our players appreciate the mid-week recovery. One of the more difficult areas of the field for scout teams to replicate is the Red Zone. Usually our offense becomes more confused on what they are seeing from the scouts and the period becomes counterproductive. Because of this, I think it is more important for our offense to understand which concepts are going to be called instead of executing full speed versus a scout team.
Light Warm-Up and Stretch- 10 minutes
Punt (Period 1) – Punt review
Team #1 (Period 2-4) – There are 24 Red Zone reps in Team #1. The first offense will take 6 reps(+35, +28, +21, +14, +7, +3) followed by 6 reps by the back-ups at the same yard lines. The first offense will take 6 additional reps (+35, +28, +21, +14, +7, +3) followed by 6 reps by the back-ups at the same yard lines. Since we are only going half speed, we allow as many repeats as needed. All of these will be executed vs. the scout defense.
Punt Return (Period 5) – Punt Return review
Team #2 (Period 6-8) – Same as Team #1, except we will exchange plays. The reps that the starters did in team #1 will become the reps for the back-ups, and the plays that the back-ups did will become the reps for our starters. This ensures that both the starters and backups have been exposed to each concept. All of these will be executed vs. the scout defense.
Kick-Off (Period 9) – Kick-Off review
Team #3 (Period 10-11) – We review 12 1st/2nd down plays. 6 for the starters; 6 for the back-ups.
Kick-Off Return (Period 12) – Kick-Off Return review
Team #4 (Period 13-14) – We review 12 3rd down plays. 6 for the starters; 6 for the back-ups.
Onsides/Hands (Period 15-16) – We cover alignment and assignment for Onsides and Hands teams.
After coming off a No-Sweat Thursday, Friday’s are all about gaining momentum going into game day. The goal is to have a 60-70 minute, crisp practice that produces confidence and energy.
Stretch- 15 minutes of Dynamic Warm-Up and Stretch
Individual (Period 1) – Utilize Game Day individual drills
Group Work (Period 2-4) – QB’s will work together with the RB’s, Inside receivers, or Outside receivers in 5 minute segments. The position groups that are not working with the QB’s can work with the offensive line or get additional individual time. For example, the running backs will spend 5 minutes with the QB’s, 5 minutes with the offensive line, and 5 minutes of additional individual work.
Punt/Punt Return (Period 5) – We will perform 2-3 reps of Punt and 2-3 Reps of Punt Return vs. the scouts.
Team #1 (Period 6-8) – There are 24 reps in Team #1. The first offense will take 3 reps, followed by 3 reps by the back-ups. This cycle is completed 4 times until all 24 plays have been executed. The first play of the series will be a 1st down call (called from the sideline). The second play of the series will be a 2nd down call. The third play of the series will be a 3rd down call. Since we are only 24-hours away from the game, we utilize a 3-play drive instead of a 6-play drive to save legs. All of these team reps will be executed vs. the scout defense.
Kick-Off/Kick-Off-Return (Period 9) – We will perform 2 reps of Kick-Off and 2 Reps of Kick-Off Return vs. the scouts.
Team #2 (Period 10-12) – There are 24 Red Zone reps in Team #2. The first offense will take 6 reps(+35, +28, +21, +14, +7, +3) followed by 6 reps by the back-ups at the same yard lines. The first offense will take 6 additional reps (+35, +28, +21, +14, +7, +3) followed by 6 reps by the back-ups at the same yard lines. All of these will be executed vs. the scout defense.
Field Goal/Onsides/Hands (Period 13) – We will kick 3 field goals, kick 2-3 onsides, and handle 2 onside kicks.
2-Minute (Period 14) – We will execute one 2-minute drive vs. the defense.
Game Day Walk-Thru (25 Minutes)
Special Teams Call-Outs
Review 8 Opening Plays
Review 6 3rd Down Plays
Review 6 Red Zone Plays
Review Last Plays of the Game
Review 2-Point Plays
Review “Take a Safety”
Review “Victory Knee”
Over the course of a practice week, our offense will take over 300 snaps. That includes Skelly, Team, and Jog-Thru. I am a big believer that you need to practice a concept at least 2 times during the week in order for the play-caller and players to be comfortable with that concept. Based on our practice plan, the numbers below show frequency of snaps taken by the starters-only in each of the 3 main situations:
1st / 2nd Down = 65 Practice Snaps (Typically carry 12 runs and 20 Passes) *2:1 Ratio Practice Snaps to Game Snaps
3rd Downs = 51 Practice Snaps (Typically there are 15 3rd down situations per game) *3:1 Ratio Practice Snaps to Game Snaps
Red Zone= 40 Practice Snaps (Typically there are 20 Red Zone snaps per game) *2:1 Ratio Practice Snaps to Game Snaps
We practice with a 2:1 ratio with the exception of 3rd downs. By going to a 3:1 ratio on 3rd downs, we have been one of the top converting teams in our conference for that over the last several years. If we make a mistake on 1st down, we still have 2nd and 3rd down to get another first down. If we get a profit on 1st down and make a mistake on 2nd down, we still have 3rd down to get another first down. However, if we struggle on 3rd down, it will be very difficult to move the football and get into scoring position. That is why we put more emphasis on 3rd down than any other. Since we potentially have an additional down to use in the Red Zone, a 2:1 ratio is sufficient.
I hope you were able to take something from this article that will help your program. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.