Q&A with Drew Wilson: Part I

In Part One of our Q&A with Colorado's Director of Football Strength and Conditioning, Drew Wilson looks back on his first year with the Buffaloes...

Can you reflect and assess how you feel your program has evolved during your first 12 months in Boulder?

Drew Wilson: “I think where we are at is a good base, but we're really not where we need to be honestly. You look back at the juggernauts of the league, when we played USC and Washington in the [Pac-12] Championship game, that kind of showed a difference in terms of strength and size. And then going against Oklahoma State in the bowl game, I think that depicted where we need our program to get to, from my perspective.

But I think what we did the past year was a good base and the guys bought in, which is the number one factor you have to have. You can have a simple program and if guys buy-in and are willing to run through a wall for you, you can have success. Or you can be complex and talk all this jargon but guys won't buy-in because it is not what they are used to. Not that I always do things they are used to, but you have to have huge buy-in.

I think it was Albert Einstein that said if you can't explain it to a six-year old for them to understand it, then you don't really understand it. So just keep things simple for these guys. They are not going to be professional weight lifters. They are here to play football, get an education and what I do is the necessary evil that needs to be done for them to be successful.”

Does that mantra of keeping things simple continue going forward then, or do you add more layers as these players have been in your program for a while?

“It is always going to simple in terms of what we are going to do. We are always going to squat, we are always going to clean, we are always going to bench, we are always going to pull. But in terms of how I get them stronger, or what I need to get from each individual guy, that will change the longer each individual guy is in my program.

“I am only year two with all these guys. So even a guy that is going to be a senior this year, it is year two. Yeah, he might be more mature but for the majority of these guys, we still have to get stronger. There were games where I felt we did a real good job with certain things, where guys were showing their strength. And then, hate to say it, but the last two games, in my opinion as a strength coach, we physically got our asses kicked. I hate to say it that way but that is just the way I look at things. We have to do a better job at that in our area to get our guys stronger."

You were hired last winter and by spring ball I already had players bringing up your name and your strength program in a positive manner, without me even prompting them to do so... did it surprise you at all that you got the buy-in from the team as quickly as you did?

“I don't know if I had expectations, I just knew that I had to get it done. I knew that was the number one goal and I knew I had to get to know each guy the best I could as I coached them.

"You can't just come in here and say, 'Get this done because I said so.' That is the way the world used to work. My dad would just say, 'Do it and don't ask me why.' I grew up a little different. Nowadays kids question things and they are taught to question things, so you can't all of sudden change them when they get in the weight room. My approach was to build that trust from the start and then let's see how this goes.

“Once these guys get stronger, it makes it so much easier. When they get stronger, you hear them say things like, 'I can't wait to lift weights. I can't wait to run.' They hated the running all summer but all the guys say, 'Man, that was the best shape I ever was going into camp.' And that is your buy-in, because they trust and believe in everything you ask them to do.

“What was my expectation? The expectation was let me get to know these kids the best I can and it is going to be a daily process. Timothy Coleman (pointing out to the weight room where Coleman was working out), our relationship has grown over the course of the last year. It has gotten stronger. I know he trusts me more. When I first walked in, I know he didn't trust me. It wasn't because he felt some type of way, he just didn't know me. So it is good to get to know these guys over time.”

Obviously you would have preferred to win the bowl game 100-0... the way it played out, though, does it does it make your job a little easier from a motivation standpoint this off-season?

“Yeah, I already had one of the players on the team text me after I gave them the workout for the break... I explained to him how to do it and he goes, 'What are you trying to do, kill us?' I responded, 'No, but I am not trying to lose by 30 points in each of the last two games of the season again.'

“So my whole thing to them is going to be, when you ask me why so hard, I am going to say because we got our asses kicked. That's why so hard. We have to develop a stronger mentality. Not that these kids didn't have it, but we are not going to do the same thing over and expect a different result. Yes, some things will ramp up and we'll change some things. But to me a strong mentality is always a crucial factor.

“At the end of the day these kids love hard work. They are going to complain. Everybody complains, but they are going to accept it and get it done. Yes, that is going to be a motivational thing but I am not going to bring it up every single day. Everybody knows what happened. We won 10 games, didn't finish out the way we should have, or the way we would have liked to.”

In Part Two of our Q&A, Wilson will talk about specific players and how his program is tailored to each position's needs.

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