NITTANY NOTES: Practice FAQs

With so many new Premium Members here on Fight On State, we often get questions about various aspects of practice from our exclusive practice reports, from drills to dress. Get the lowdown right here.

With so many new Fight On State Premium Members coming on board recently, we've received several questions about various aspects of Penn State practices which emerge from our Nittany Notes and Short Reports.

Most of out longtime subscribers know the lingo. But with the site growing, every once in a while, we realize we have take a few minutes to get all of the new faces up to speed.

Also, practice this Friday is scheduled to be open to the media for roughly the first 20 minutes. And FOS will be in Los Angeles from Christmas Day on leading up to the Rose Bowl, so we will cover whatever portions of practice are open there.

So here are some of the basics from PSU's general practice structure.

Why are the players in different jersey colors during practice?

Penn State uses different colored jerseys to signify the unit with which a player is practicing with. Sometimes the quarterbacks will be in red jerseys in practice to signify to the defensive players to avoid contact with them to avoid unnecessary injury.

First-Team Offense: powder blue
Second-Team Offense: green
First-Team Defense: navy blue
Second-Team Defense: red
Scout-Team: white (and for a bowl, typically with a number corresponding to the opposing player each Lion is representing).

FOS reports mention "Drill 6" a lot, what is it?

Drill 6 is basically a 7-on-7 set which features the offensive skill players (QB, RB, WR, TE) against the linebackers and secondary on defense. It's used to work the passing game against the coverage.

OK, why is it called Drill 6 if it's 7-on7?

Believe it or not, the name goes back to Joe Paterno's quarterbacking days at Brown University. The Bears ran a fairly consistent schedule and the sixth drill of their practices was the 7-on-7 set, hence "Drill 6," which stuck with Paterno. At PSU Drill 6 is not necessarily the sixth drill, though, and can be run at any time in practice.

Can you explain what a "110" is?

PSU players run a variety of sprint distances; from the standard 40-yard dash to 110-yard and even 300-yard runs. The 110-yard sprint is typically the distance the players are tested on to see if they are in shape.

In some instances the entire units will run and share a countdown for several sets. Typically the units will break into groups by position like the following:

Group A: WR, DB, RB
Group B: LB, FB, QB, DE, TE
Group C: OL, DL

So, if you hear something like "the players got in some 110s," it simply refers to the players running some timed sprints of 110 yards.

You are likely to hear more about 110s in the spring or preseason than during bowl prep.

What is the 9-on-7 drill?

The 9-on-7 drill pits the running game against the defense. Generally, the offense has seven guys: five offensive lineman, the quarterback and running back.

These seven match up against nine defensive players; four defensive lineman, three linebackers and two safeties.

This drill tests the running game and the abilities of the offensive line and running backs and can be very physical with some hard contact sessions. "9-7 is where the running game usually comes together or falls apart," an observer said. "You know the running game is looking good if the line and backs can make progress short-handed. [Evan] Royster and the current line were able to handle 9-7 work in the preseason pretty well, which was a big reason expectations were so high for the running game."

What's "thud"?

Thud drills are basically a rundown of every major play/scheme in the playbook — both on the run and pass side. These drills work the offense and the defense against each other. Typically they entail full pads and contact, but at times it can serve as a walk-through.

So why is it called "thud?" Usually this is the team's first introduction to contact drills in the preseason, and it tends to be pretty physical, so the hard-hitting is like a big "thud."

If you have other practice questions, feel free to post them on the FOS TAP Board.

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