P.J. Fleck is trying something in practice that "other coaches will think is crazy"
P.J. Fleck certainly goes by the beat of his own drum. And usually, that drum is beating at warp speed.
The new Minnesota coach is shaking things up across the board in the Twin Cities. In fact, he said that one of his techniques is something that other coaches will think is “crazy.”
Fleck explained after practice on Monday that he started implementing 7-on-7 scrimmages after position-specific work.
“I did something that I have never done in my entire life — and you want to talk about being creative — we ran a 7-on-7 scrimmage. It was interesting,” Fleck said. “It was amazing. We were constantly rotating receivers in and out, so you had to get that communication done, which is priceless on game day, you had to get elite communication.
“We had to cover and use all of our coverage techniques and coverage schemes with zero pass rush. We had to just play coverage, and just play our offense, without any type of running game…I thought it was priceless.”
Surely Fleck isn’t the first coach to implement a 7-on-7 drill during spring practice. But if another coach has done it before, he hasn’t seen it.
“I’m standing back there starting to think — ‘I’ve never done this before. I’ve never seen it. Coaches are going to think I’m crazy for installing it. What are we doing?’” Fleck said. “But as I sit there and watch it, I’m going ‘we’re on to something. This is awesome. We might do this a lot more because we can’t rely on our pass rush to get somewhere.’ If the quarterback is back there for six seconds, then we have to be able to cover for six seconds.”
“It was priceless today. We got close to 50 reps today of just 7-on-7 scrimmage.”
For what it’s worth, spring games often have a 7-on-7 feel because of the contact limitations and the limited packages shown. Still, it’s interesting to see that Fleck isn’t just copying the blueprint from his final season at Western Michigan.
We’ll see what kind of impact Fleck’s practice tweak will have when Minnesota kicks off its spring game on April 15.