"I thought we held up pretty well until the Wake Forest game. It seemed to fade fast. Greg (Jones) and (Jeff) Womble, in particular, were obviously big blows for us. I will tell you what. As much contact as we had and playing as many games as we had, I felt we did fairly well. Obviously, you hope you can go through a season completely injury free. We do as much as we possibly can to reduce the risk of injury, but you can't prevent it. Only God can do that. I thought we held up pretty well, though not as well as we had hoped. We had some guys who finished the season – Ray Willis is a perfect example. He finished the season strong. Kendyll Pope is another example. They still needed a surgery following the last game. I never really heard kids complain or say anything (about length of season). People love to play. I never really heard anyone complain that the season's too long. The more you win, the more you want to play. Things start to evolve, if you will, when you don't win. That probably was more frustrating than anything else. More than the length of the season."
You feel good about the system you have in place?
"I think everyone has done really a good job. The kids have worked really hard. There's a strong belief in what we are doing. They are seeing improvement. Success breeds success. One of the most challenging aspects from the strength and conditioning standpoint this year as much as anything was logistically us being over here at Florida High and the locker room and the stadium and the training room and the coaches, and the parking issue, really forced us to train in the morning. We trained at 6 in the morning. We staggered the start times but just about everyone on the team was done lifting by 8 or 8:30 a.m. In order to train in groups and have a team concept, it was really the only time we could do it. In the past, we could have a 1 p.m. lifting time and they could get done and walk upstairs to their meeting. Here, they had to lift, had to get taped, they had the travel time and there was nowhere to clock. It really made it a lot more difficult. The kids really did a good job of doing what was asked. Wake up and get their butt out of bed early and get over here to train. For the most part, they did a good job. That's not the easiest thing to do for a college athlete."
It was mentioned during the Sugar Bowl telecast by an announcer who felt knee injuries were a result, in part, to players being too muscular and too strong in the lower body. What is your view on this?
"I hadn't heard it but somebody did mention it to me. Obviously, that's an announcer saying something about something he doesn't know anything about. You can talk to any doctor, surgeon, trainer or strenght coach and they are going to further express and emphasize the stronger you are, the more you reduce the risk of injury."
Talk about your current plan.
"We had a team meeting on Monday. Tuesday was our first workout. For scheduling purposes and there's an even flow during the entire offseason, Wednesday is an off day for us. Typically, we will train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. With Wednesday being an off day. And once mat drills start Feb. 10, we will have the offseson program in Tully. That will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And we will continue to lift with the same lifting times Tuesday and Thursday. We have a group at 7 a.m., which is primarily newcomers and young kids. We have a group at 1, a group at 2:30 and a group at 4. An hour and half time block. We try to schedule them by position as much as possible. But class schedule ends up dictating a great deal."
What's your plan for the offensive line?
"Obviously, we have a pretty young offensive line that is going to have to mature both physically and mentally and grow up and become extremely accountable. So, that's a group we've really focused on as far as trying to bring them in as a group, so they can lift with one another and push one another. They all need to get stronger. We are pretty fortunate that we don't need anybody to gain a significant amount of weight. We have a few guys where weight is a little of a concern. Ron Lunford is a guy whose conditioning is going to be factor for us. He needs to lose a little bit of body fat. Andrew Henry-Kennon is in that same situation. (Matt) Meinrod has done a really good job. He's pretty strong and he's a person whose foot quickness is probably a bit of a concern. Alex Barron still needs to continue to get stronger and mentally tougher. Ray Willis needs to get healthy. We are really going to miss Ray right now because he can be a big leader for that group. Probably played as much as any of them. I see him. ...he really has a mentality that he will fight your tail off. He trains really hard in the weight room and he can be a strong force for us in here. Unfortunately, him just coming off surgery, his No. 1 focus right now is getting healthy."