I was never and still am not a big fan of bye weeks, but I understand their importance. I wish I could give you some crazy inside info about bye weeks, but they're exactly what you think they are. Players use them to get injuries healed, get ahead in the classroom, chase girls, etc. Coaches use them to game plan for future opponents, take recruiting trips, and fix mistakes from previous weeks. Practices were usually a little longer since there was no opponent to prepare for, and there would be more lifting sessions in the weight room. That's about it.
The highlights of the bye weeks were usually when we had the young guys scrimmage. It would literally say on the practice script: "young guys scrimmage." This was a twenty minute scrimmage at the end of practice for the freshmen that were red-shirting and for the young guys who didn’t play a lot of snaps the week before. These were always fun because it was like looking into a crystal ball for the future. These were the the players who were on scout teams or didn’t get many reps during game preparation, and the scrimmage was a chance for the coaches to finally spend some serious time with them.
All of the other players would go to the sidelines and root them on. The players that made great plays or big hits would get to break down their position groups when it was over. It did wonders for player development, and was a big reason we had a lot of depth on our successful teams. I firmly believe that the teams across the country that are successful year in and year out take full advantage of the bye weeks.
The reason I didn’t like bye weeks was because the coaches focused more on fundamentals, and that meant more tackling drills. The kickers and punters did tackling drills with the secondary. Unbeknownst to Coach Whitt (our DB coach from 2003-2006), there were un-written rules during tackling drills. Everyone tried to obey the rules. There were really no penalties for #1 and #2, except for maybe pissing off Coach Whitt. No. 3 was different.
Below are the rules:
1. If you are a DB or a Safety and you go up against a kicker/punter, you do the drill correctly but you don’t destroy said kicker/punter (there would usually be a young guy who would break this rule early on, but eventually they learned).
2. If you are a kicker/punter and you go against a DB or a Safety, you do the drill correctly and better make solid contact (don’t embarrass our position group).
3. If you are a kicker/punter and you go against another kicker/punter you do the drill right and under no circumstances do you try to light someone up for show. This was strictly adhered to by the UOFLKPA (U of L Kickers and Punters Association), and the defensive backs knew this. The best was when a freshman kicker (no name to protect the innocent) decided to break rule # 3 against a freshman punter. I tapped Rod Council on the helmet and he made sure he was set up in line next time through to go against this kicker. Long story short: Rod absolutely crushed the guy and we never had a problem again. I know it sounds cruel, but it was hilarious to us.
Beat Bye Week