Ack's Insights: June 3, 2004

In this edition of <b>Ack's Insights</b>, I go into detail about how the summer A strength and conditioning program is going, including updates on many of the players. I also talk about Gator Baseball, why Ciatrick Fason gets so tired after long runs and more!

The Gators recently finished the third week of summer conditioning and weight room workouts. The final three weeks of summer A will be followed by a week off then summer B. UF has all but two scholarship players going through this phase of the strength and conditioning program. A couple of years ago the NCAA started allowing strength coaches, as well as trainers, to go out and supervise workouts involving student athletes. This helps make sure athletes are well hydrated and stretched properly. After the events of several years ago with Florida, Northwestern and the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, it makes you wonder why the NCAA would not allow supervision before.

While the summer workouts are vitally important to the success of the team in the fall they are not mandatory and players cannot be penalized for missing a workout. This Florida team is working as hard as any in recent memory and the players make sure all the other players are present and accounted for. The skilled guys (defensive backs, running backs, receivers, QB's) are lifting four times a week. The lineman, linebackers and tight ends are lifting five times per week. In Summer A, most of the running work is focused on speed drills which will enable each athlete to get quicker and faster. Players are running three times a week at two separate times of their own choice. They can run in the morning at 7am or in the afternoon at 2:30pm.

When Summer B begins athletes will move the running portion up to four days per week and they will concentrate on conditioning. The most important time before training camp is the final four weeks prior to the start of fall drills. This is where athletes can push themselves to adapt to the fall heat and practice schedule. Most guys will watch very carefully what they put in their own body the last four weeks. The training of the two separate groups (perimeter guys vs interior guys) is mostly different in volume. For example, everyone is trying to put on muscle and strength. So how do you work defensive backs and offensive lineman together to reach their desired strength goals? Managing the volume of workouts each player does. If the workout for chest and arms on a particular day for a defensive back is made up of six exercises, it is likely that the offensive lineman is doing chest and arms with nine exercises. The bigger interior guys can load up more volume because they have more to gain and less speed to lose. Perimeter guys are looking to achieve strength goals without putting too much weight on, so they don't lose their athleticism or speed. (see David Boston, wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins). Boston is very strong and has a low body fat at 240lbs but he is not the "athlete" he was at 225 several years back for the Cardinals.

Snippets and Tidbits…
I mentioned before that this group of players are working very hard and there are very few guys "coasting" through workouts. Some of the leaders in the weight room are Travis Harris, Lance Butler, Channing Crowder, Todd McCullough, Mo Mitchell and Ray McDonald.

Speaking of Travis Harris, he is undergoing his third body transformation of his college career and has never looked better. As a freshman, he tried to get stronger to play right away, then later as a junior he move to defensive end and tried to add a lot of weight. Now Harris has leaned into a big time linebacker prospect who could be primed for the best year of his career.

Todd McCullough has always been a workout warrior and is close to being back to his strength prior to the injury. His goal is to be fully rehabbed and strong by the end of summer A and then use summer B to add weight and mass.

Lance Butler is not the best athlete to come along at offensive line but his weight room workouts are becoming legendary. Not many guys work harder and he once again is setting the tone for lineman in the workouts.

Randy Hand is finally at a strength equal to his playing stature. Hand was forced to play right away as a freshman and never really benefited from one or two full years in a college weight program to get his body ready to start. That being said, Hand has held down the starting right tackle spot for two years. Randy is finally over the 400lb bench mark which is every offensive lineman's goal and could become a more physical player this fall.

Carlton Medder continues to reshape his body in the workouts. Carlton has lost 18lbs since last fall and is around 320lbs at this time. Medder would like to be 6'5" 305-310 eventually and if he keeps working at this pace it could happen.

Mike Degory is also one of the leaders in the weight room and continues to set the tone for lineman along with Butler.

On the defensive side, both tackles, Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas, are busting their tails. McDonald who may have played at 255-265 last fall at tackle, is now at a fit 285lbs. Kenny Parker is working out daily, but cannot do the full program because of the limitations on his back. Parker is working hard and his program with weights is mostly out of precaution because of his back history.

The one young lineman who maybe transforming into a real monster is Steven Harris who is up to 275lbs and has added a lot of upper body strength. He is quietly maturing into a player Ron Zook will be able to count on this fall.

UF had a fine pitching performance during the SEC tournament. Tommy Boss gave UF a complete game and Bryan Ball, Conner Falkenbach and Lee Porter all had pretty good stints for the Gators. UF has never beaten Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament, dropping to 0-5. Darren O'Day made his first career start in the Saturday game vs Vanderbilt and UF was real close to winning that game. The Gators are now 5-4 in extra inning games and 12-6 for the season in one run games. Ben Harrison who had a big hit to tie the game in the ninth has a season high 11 game hitting streak going into the regionals. UF will travel to Oklahoma City, in what is their 22nd NCAA Tournament bid. This is the ninth consecutive regional for the Gators and they once again will have to go through Miami to get to Omaha. UF finished the season 11-8 against ranked opponents and were a much improved road team. The SEC had six number one seeds and UF was the only one who had to travel.

This and that…
Many people ask why Ciatrick Fason has to pull himself out after long runs during games. This however is not much different than what great backs like Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders have done in there college careers. So what can Ciatrick do to stay on the field? Fason is generally one of the first guys in all conditioning drills. The attribute he needs to develop his recovery. Emmitt and Barry became fast recovery guys in the NFL and Fason needs to get where he can go back in after a 60yd run with only 45 seconds rest. He is working on this but I believe Zook will continue to settle for his 60 yard runs as long as he keeps them coming. One other factor that goes into Ciatrick getting tired is his emotion that he runs with. He runs so hard and with so much energy he often never leaves anything on the field. Sometimes he would be better off in a pile getting down and avoiding extra hits but like another former Gator great -- Errict Rhett -- he just keeps on trying to make every yard he can.

DeShawn Wynn is working out in Gainesville this summer A and doing a nice job. Last summer Wynn went home to Ohio for the first term, but with the starting job on the line he decided to stay in Gainesville and workout. One concern is Wynn's weight and can he keep it down. DeShawn has been as high as 240 and coaches would like him to report for fall camp at 225 lbs.

Earl Everett is at 224lbs right now and hopes to report to fall camp at 230lbs. With the attrition of maybe 5lbs, Everett should be able to play at 225 for the entire season.

Terrence Holmes is also having a tremendous summer in the weight room. Holmes has made up the ground on the other safeties in fifteen spring practices and I predict he will pass them all and be starter by the end of August.

Dee Webb is also getting the job done in the weight room and has improved his speed in Summer A already.

Did you know?
Football assistant coaches, trainers and strength coaches cannot be on the field in the summer when there is a football present. Football coaches are not allowed to view any of the summer workouts that involve drills or throwing. When Chris Leak and others go to throw routes with the defensive backs and so forth on there own during the week trainers or strength coaches will set water out for them so they can properly hydrate themselves. Strength Coach Rob Glass has seven assistants to help him monitor 85 players during Summer A workouts. There will be up to 120 in Summer B which includes some incoming freshman and walk-ons. His staff includes former Gator player Mark Campbell. Glass has had to reload his staff with John Grieco, one of his top assistants, taking the head strength and conditioning job this past spring at East Carolina with former Gator assistant John Thompson.

Stat of the Week: 9. The number of walks given up by Conner Falkenbach in 110 innings of work this season.

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