Since Chris Ash took over Rutgers football as head coach last December, a major focus has been to instill competition into every aspect of the program. Adding strength and conditioning coach Kenny Parker was key to ramping up the intensity level during offseason workouts. One new element added into practice during the spring was the “Ring of Honor” drill, which pits two players head to head in a battle of brute strength. Yesterday, Ash posted video of the drill’s debut during training camp.
The “ring of honor” drill is different than the famous “Oklahoma Drill”, which simulates a one on one situation between a defensive lineman trying to fight through a block and tackle the incoming running back. You can view that drill here. In the “ring of honor” drill, it’s even more simple, but also safer. The drill is more like sumo wrestling in pads, testing a player’s strength, will and determination.
The implementation of this drill should really help bring a competitive edge to the program. Imagine preparing for practice everyday, knowing there is a chance your name will be called to participate in the drill. It brings a certain urgency, anxiety, and alertness that can only elevate a player’s readiness for game action. This type of simulation is also great for team building, as the entire team encircles the two players doing battle, cheering them on. It helps build respect for one another as well.
This test of strength and pride helps reinforce a competitive mindset to the players. Football is barbaric by nature, and this drill is at the core of its foundation. It’s about taking on your opponent head on and trying to beat them by outplaying and outworking them. This type of training and focus will be invaluable once Rutgers takes the field this season. This should help the team bring more of an edge when facing the elite programs of the Big Ten, and hopefully help them be more competitive against them.
During Ash’s press conference in December to announce his hiring, he said the following regarding the type of team he wanted to build:
“I want to build a fast, physical team that plays with relentless effort, tremendous enthusiasm and plays for each other”
The “ring of honor” delivers the essence of Ash’s desired style of play and the drill reinforces his message at practice. It’s gladiator-like and it’s awesome. With all the strategy and game planning in preparing to play an opponent, the individual battles won and lost between players on the field determine the outcome of the game. While Ash will never be satisfied and fans should be patient in year one of his tenure, the “ring of honor” drill is one of many reasons fans should be optimistic Rutgers will be more competitive on the field this season.