What's the best Bye Week strategy?

Submitted by DelhiWolverine on October 25th, 2018 at 12:32 PM

We have entered into Bye Week after two great performances against ranked teams. The team is performing better than nearly everyone predicted at the beginning of the season and beating OSU and a Big Ten Title are now looking more possible than ever. Awesome.

When it comes to Bye Week, I'm curious to know what the board thinks about the best approach for maximizing the opportunity Bye Week presents. I'm especially interested in the opinion of any coaches and ex players.

Do you take the first week of bye week to just focus on improving problem areas without having a specific focus on PSU? Do you take two entire weeks to prep for PSU, with other game planning (OSU) sprinkled in? Is it better to take it easier this week to allow for a bit of rest and recovery or is it better to keep everything consistent and practice the same as if you had a Saturday game?

To sum up: With the luxury of extra time and no game scheduled this Saturday, what's the best way to capitalize on the Bye and make it an advantage heading into the final portion of the season?



October 25th, 2018 at 3:18 PM ^

I disagree on this one in *this* particular year. 

Penn State already has two losses in the Big Ten East.  Barring a catastrophic loss by us to Indiana or Rutgers, we can afford to actually lose to PSU and still be heading into The Game w/ the division championship on the line.  It'd kills us for our playoff chances of course, but in my view first thing is first--beat OSU & win the Big Ten.

That said, I would maybe spend some extra time preparing for PSU, but not the full extra week.  I'd dedicate maybe 1-2 full practices to extra PSU work (so maybe this Thursday & Friday). 

So it'd probably look like this:

  • First Monday I'd likely give the entire team a day off to rest/rehab & take care of their life outside of football.  The coaches & staff would still grind away Monday. 


  • First Tuesday-Wednesday would be a combination of  "refine & review" practice to fix persistent technique or scheme issues (i.e., defending slant passes, converting on 3rd & long, FG kicking, etc.), and also install/practice some trick plays or packages specifically designed for OSU.  For the stuff that's truly refining/reviewing, maybe even do that at half speed so it's a light workout or glorified walk thru.


  • First Thursday would be treated as a "flex" day.  If we are particularly confident about PSU and/or the "refine & review"/"OSU Special" stuff was a hot mess or taking longer than expected, then treat Thursday like Tuesday-Wednesday.  If we just breeze through the Tuesday/Wednesday content or feel uneasy about PSU, then treat Thursday just like Friday & do 100% PSU.


  • First Friday would be 100% PSU focused.  This practice (and any Thursday practice if the flex day was earmarked for PSU) would be more schematic & slower walk-thru pace again.  So the idea for these earlier PSU practices is it's more for guys to download scouting reports, review film & apply the strategies we intend to deploy against PSU.  Then they'd have the weekend to let the scouting/cognitive/schematic stuff to marinate.  


  • Guys rest up on the weekend.  Probably against NCAA rules and would kill team morale, but I'd love to put lojack systems on all my guys and ban both alcohol consumption & playing any recreational sports.  Host a "voluntary" (mandatory) PSU vs Iowa viewing/pizza party on DVR review Saturday evening.  Basically have the staff do a quick & dirty preliminary breakdown while watching the 3:30pm game & then by 8pm have a somewhat annotated version ready to go for the guys to watch somewhat socially.  Like a somewhat more thoughtful & organized version of the "Coach's Film Room" broadcast during the national championship games.    Of course true breakdown & film study would occur later. Key recruiters on the coaching staff go on visits Friday-Saturday.


  • Second week would be just like a regular full speed PSU game week but we'd already have that 1-2 extra practices under our belt form Thursday/Friday the week prior so hopefully guys already had a big head start on the scouting/mental aspect of PSU game prep.


For what it's worth, I know "the next game" is always supposed to be the most important game, but it just ain't true.  I'd take the following Rutgers week & treat it almost as a quasi bye week as well.  Namely, instead of preparing for Rutgers exclusively M-F, I'd dedicate Monday & maybe even Tuesday for the trick play/OSU package/refine holes in our game stuff & only dedicate W-F for 100% Rutgers.

The whole point being, by dedicating 1-2 days during the true bye week & shorting Rutgers prep by 1-2 days, what you're really doing is socking away about a week's worth of OSU preparation so that when we go in there, it's as if we dedicated a two full weeks to them alone.


October 25th, 2018 at 12:56 PM ^

I was going to say that drinking and enjoying a stress-free day of football viewing was the best strategy, but then I assume that we'd rather the team didn't drink, though I am sure they will get in at least a game or two on TV. 

That could also be merely me trying to envision the team following MY strategy though....


October 25th, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

no serious answers so far, so i'll give that a try.

first, 8 games into the year guys need to heal up.  some of them need to literally stop running, lifting, etc and do nothing but rest and rehab for a few days, maybe a whole week. 

second, you take the luxury of time and do some work on what ohio is doing.  you have your scout team do what scout teams do so your D can get a look at a haskins-like hurling 71 passes/game.

third, you give your 2's and 3's a bunch of time in the saddle getting quality snaps. 

fourth, you add a couple of more gadget plays and/or tweaks to what you got already.  you might keep them in your pocket for the game v. ohio or even the B10 championship, but you have them run 'em a few times to get used to the new stuff.

last, you do get into your regular PSU game planning, but you probably won't do that until sunday film day (team watches PSU game with breakdown by coaches) and monday regular practice.