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The drill is called "Oklahoma drill" because an Oklahoma coach named Bud Wilkinson created it. The drill has several variations. The most common involves two players lined up three yards opposite one another. A corridor is set up typically using three blocking bags on each side of the players lined up top to bottom to create a wall, and the walls are spaced about one yard apart. This creates an area of about three feet by nine feet. The two players, at the sound of the whistle, then run at one another and the drill is over when one of the players is on the ground, or if a ball carrier is involved when he is tackled. If a player is able to drive the other player out of the corridor, that also ends the drill.
Many high school and college teams use the Oklahoma drill as a way to kick off the first day of full contact practice. While often criticized as excessive, it can be a critical tool used by coaches to evaluate players that might have looked good in non-contact drills, but have yet to face full contact. Other times the drill is used simply to get players in the proper mind-set for full contact practices, especially in high school and college, where many times players have gone up to eight months doing only non-contact drills.
In the NFL, some team owners and coaches do not allow the Oklahoma drill. Notable exceptions include the Chargers, and the Bengals who use the drill as a kind of celebration of the first day of full-contact practices. Veterans and high-profile NFL players rarely participate in pit drills owing to the higher risk of injury. One of the last holdouts, the Jaguars last ran the Oklahoma drill in the 2011 training camp under former head coach Jack Del Rio. On October 7, 2015, Dan Campbell reportedly used the Oklahoma drill to begin his first practice as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
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