Last week a video was making the rounds on social media of a talk Kirby Smart gave at a Nike coaching clinic on defensive drills. One discussed was Georgia’s take on a classic defensive staple.
Those of us who played football in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s likely remember the "Oklahoma drill", a practice favorite of hard-nosed football coaches everywhere. The Oklahoma drill was designed to separate the men from the boys, forcing players to engage in close quarters, full speed combat
The thing is, the Oklahoma drill is arguably an anachronism now. Football teams just aren’t lining up and blasting the ball between the tackles like they used to. Offensive football has become a matter of getting speedy personnel out in space and avoiding the type of head-to-head pugilism the Oklahoma drill glorifies.
So what is a coach to do? Well, if you’re Kirby Smart you begin practices with an updated, spaced out version of the old Oklahoma drill.
Saw this drill on Facebook and really liked it. "Millenial Oklahoma" pic.twitter.com/RYoxRbYc8Q— James Light (@JamesALight) July 8, 2017
This is an interesting drill because it forces perimeter defenders to work on both the angles they take and the mechanics (footwork, lead shoulder) of attacking ballcarriers in space. If you think about it, a bubble screen run from a trips receiver set looks a lot like the lead sweeps that have been a part of the game for decades. Stopping that look is still about getting sufficient numbers to the play to neutralize the blockers, locate the guy with the ball, and put him on the ground.
This drill just updates things for the speed of the current game. Getting to the ball fast and in position to make the stop are what college defenses do now. This updated Oklahoma drill is a great way to practice that. The fact that it’s a "live" drill rather than utilizing bags or dummies ratchets up the intensity and makes it more like a game situation.
Also worth checking out, if only for entertainment value, is Smart’s "stumble bum" running back drill for avoiding fumbles. I highly recommend it. Until later...