2021 LB Seth Malcom Enjoys Nebraska Visit
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New NCAA Rules Reduce Contact as Huskers Ready for Fall Camp

July 29, 2021

The Oklahoma Drill will not be part of Nebraska’s preparation to face Oklahoma this year. Nor will any other team use the infamous drill to get ready for any other.

That drill––which typically involved collisions in a confined space, often outlined by tackling dummies––was prohibited earlier this year as part of a package of rule changes aimed at reducing contact in practice.

The NCAA Football Rules Oversight committee, which includes voting members from each FBS conference as well as coach and student-athlete representatives, eliminated drills that “create unneeded contact, particularly straight-line contact” that is not common to the game. Sorry, Bud Wilkinson (credited with creating the Oklahoma Drill).

The other changes Nebraska football will encounter as it begins fall practice on July 30:

  • The acclimatization period, which determines when a team can begin full-pad practices, has been extended from five to seven days. The first day the Huskers can hold such a practice will be Aug. 6. The number of full-pad practices is restricted to nine.
  • Full-contact practices cannot occur on more than two consecutive days and contact sessions can last no longer than 75 minutes. The new rules limit teams to two preseason scrimmages.
  • Teams are allowed to hold 25 practices in the 29 days leading up to the first game of the season, but are capped at 18 contact practices, down from 21 in the past. Seven of a team’s practices are required to be “helmet-only days (with optional spider pads).”

“The change in practice structure really isn’t going to affect us that much,” Scott Frost said on the eve of fall camp. “It’ll kind of affect our acclimatization schedule and what we do at the beginning, but we’re not going to have six scrimmages and full tackle-to-the-ground scrimmages anyway. You can get done about everything you can with full pads on when you have shells, so we’ll get plenty of chances to evaluate the tackling and the blocking and the running with the running backs.”

The NCAA, in announcing the changes last May, said it relied on data points from individual conferences, its own injury surveillance and a joint research project on concussions between the NCAA and the Department of Defense.

“The challenge in creating this model was to balance the need for a reduction in contact with preparing student-athletes properly to play a football season,” said Mark Harlan, Utah Athletic Director and leader of the subcommittee that proposed these changes. “The framework achieves this and allows coaches appropriate freedom and flexibility.”

Nebraska is one of nine FBS schools that can begin preseason practices this week. The Huskers face Illinois on the road on Aug. 28, commonly referred to as Week 0.

That day also features Connecticut at Fresno State, Hawaii at UCLA, UTEP at New Mexico State and Southern Utah at San José State.

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