In college football, practices are strictly monitored and regulated due NCAA restrictions on the amount of time players can spend on the practice field. Most collegiate practices are broken down into five minute blocks of time referred to as ‘periods’. So, if a team was having a traditional two hour practice, it would be referred to as a “twenty-four period practice”. Generally, coaches will receive a practice schedule divided into periods and not hours or minutes. Having such a specific breakdown makes it easier for coaches to know how and when they should be working individually, in groups, or as a team.

A clock runs throughout practice and sounds a buzzer at the end of each period, letting coaches know it’s time to move on or how much time remains. Football is such a multi-faceted sport that it is extremely difficult to ensure players receive sufficient work on individual technique, group concepts, team plays, and all phases of special teams. With that in mind, the single most important aspect of any practice from a coach’s perspective is the ‘One-on-One’ periods.

WRs vs. DBs:
Wide receivers and Defensive backs are accustomed to competing in one-on-one situations – it’s the nature of those positions. However, their one-on-one period must be different than the 7-on-7 everyone is so familiar with because during 7-on-7 there are multiple routes and coverages, resulting in more possible outcomes. In a one-on-one drill there is only one target for the QB. To mix up these drills, however, a WR will occasionally be told to run block the DB in coverage to test not only the receiver’s skills when blocking, but the defender’s ability to recognize plays and shed blocks.

RB's vs. LB's:
Due to the multiple responsibilities that both running backs and linebackers have on any given play, their one-on-one period is usually broken into two segments: rushing and blocking. When performing the running segment of the one-on-one, the drill has to be modified to simulate the ‘traffic’ created by other players. By using heavy bags to simulate running lanes, it creates a more realistic set-up for this unrealistic drill (fig.1). The running back will start with the ball in his hand and the drill will begin on a whistle. The winners are clear here…if you’re tackled, you lose.
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The pass-rushing and pass-blocking segment of the one-on-one period is more difficult for RBs because it is a skill most running backs don’t spend practice time on in high school. Linebackers are given the freedom to perform a ‘jet’ pass rush (which means a rush where they’re not held accountable for a gap). Three bags simulate half of an offensive line and one more represents the QB. In this drill the objective is clear, stop the rusher from hitting the QB (fig. 2).
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O-Line vs. D-Line:
These are the most well-known and popular one-on-one drills due to their physicality and similarity to a fight. Five defensive linemen line up across from five offensive linemen and everyone knows it’s a pass (fig. 3). From right to left or left to right, one at a time, defensive linemen perform a ‘jet’ pass rush to try and hit the QB bag. The term “any means necessary” comes to mind most often for either side of the ball.
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In 1-on-1’s, all eyes are on you and there’s nowhere to hide. A player’s eagerness to compete and win will test his concentration and execution of the trained technique. Teammates as well as coaches “whoop and holler” to build anticipation for the inevitable decision on who won and who lost. No one forgets how you did the day before, and no one forgets how you do today. When your name is called… will you answer?
  • Aaron Carrara, J.B. TexasEx, killrjoe and 1 other like this