McGettigan: Two things have come to the forefront. The leadership has been outstanding. The seniors understand what we need to do to get back to where we were. The commitment has really been there to do the extra things. Just the ability for them to take charge and want to be successful has really helped us. A player-led team is a lot better than a coach-led team. Coaches need to set the expectations, but the players have to be in charge of where the team is going. We have gotten that from a number of guys.
Then we have a nucleus of young players that really believe in what we have the ability to do. Some of them have played and some of them haven't, but they have stepped up and helped us raise the level of work and intensity. With the older guys and the mix of new guys, it has really developed a good chemistry.
We've taken it one day at a time, focused on each individual day, and let's take one piece of the puzzle at a time. We're already in our sixth week. We'll work out week seven, then week eight is a combination of testing and training. July 30th they are done until they come back for training camp on August 8th.
CN: Has your approach this year, and if so, how have you altered it from the past?
McGettigan: With our younger players we have had to address their strength level. You have to get them strong. We've put an emphasis on lower-body strength with them. When we got done with spring ball, with the new indoor facility, we kept doing speed and agility work all the way through. We still worked and lifted three days and did two days of speed work. We kept working to get better, which has been our motto.
Then we gave them four weeks to go home. We provided the program, but they had to take responsibility to work while they were at home. To about a man, they came back in outstanding shape. Depending on the conditioning level they came back at, then we were able to determine what we'd do as far as our conditioning.
We're really running hard one day a week. On Monday we're doing straight-ahead speed and power. Tuesday is the day we're going to run hard. Thursday is change of direction. On Friday it's still speed-oriented, but it's power running.
We have one day of conditioning and three days of some kind of speed work. That was all because they came back in good condition. If they wouldn't have come back in very good shape, then we would have had to modify our program. Lower body strength is something we've tried to address. We're not really fancy here. We squat, clean, and front squat.
It's pretty basic. We put in some dead lift, which is the first time we've done that. We've done dumbbell dead lift and conventional dead lift. My brother is really got me started on that. He's been a competitive powerlifter and is strong. It's something we decided to put in. I talked to him and a friend of mine who is the assistant strength coach for the Chicago Bears. They were dead lifting with their guys.
We experimented with it a little bit at the end of the spring program with a few players, and it's something we've added in now. It's only one exercise, but it has increased our lower-body strength. We have had to get guys like Aaron Brant, Tom Schmeling, John Tjaden, Brandon Cook, and Anthony Walker stronger. Those young guys have to get stronger in a short amount of time.
CN: How has the offensive line graded out?
McGettigan: They've been outstanding from top to bottom. They've worked extremely hard. In the past we have been a team that could run the football. That was what we were able to do, and they guys have taken pride in that. If you win the football, then you're normally a physical team. They want to be able to do that. It's more of a frame of mind than anything. It isn't like you have to train differently, but they've worked extremely hard and understand what they have to do.
The offensive line has to be a close-knit group with a great core. They have to run together, train together, and work out together. They've done that.
CN: Any youngsters that have made huge strides?
McGettigan: Two guys that have really stuck out are Brandon Cook and Anthony Walker. In one year's time, Cook has made so much progress. When that kid came last year to where he is right now, it's amazing. Both of those kids are still only redshirt freshmen. Physically they have come a long way due to their effort and work. How much will those two guys help us this year? I don't know. But in a year's time they've come miles.
Cook was 360 pounds at this time last year and could hardly run a lap around the field. Now the kid weighs 319 pounds. Anthony Walker was probably around 290 pounds and is at 275 right now. Now he's just got to continually get stronger and put the weight back on slowly. They've put the time and effort into the training on a consistent basis has helped greatly.
Vander Sanden and Stubbe are the more experienced guys, as far as playing. Brant played last year. But then we've got Tom Schmeling, Bastian Schober and John Tjaden, who have had good summers. I think Schober can be a good player at this level. Zehr has had an outstanding summer and is really athletic. He's one of those guys that's on the verge of becoming a pretty darn good player. Zehr has been 291 pounds through conditioning.
CN: How about the quarterback position?
McGettigan: That's an outstanding group. Flynn and Meyer have turned it up a notch. Flynn has gotten his weight back. He lost weight last winter and now he's back up to 194 pounds. He got sick in the winter and then we had to get his weight back up. He's put on about 10 pounds, which is great because he didn't have a lot of weight to lose. Meyer is almost 200 pounds now. Love has been holding steady around 224 pounds.
CN: Has Stevie Hicks been able to maintain the momentum he built up this spring?
McGettigan: The guy has worked his butt off and has really learned to work. If he continues to work like this, he has the ability to really be something. He can be a difference-maker and someone we can go to. We can put that ball in his hands and let him go.
He's big, strong, and has gotten himself in great physical condition. It's the best training program he's had since he's been here. He now understands what level a Big 12 running back has to be at. If you want to carry the ball 25 or 30 times a game, this is the kind of load you've got to be willing to take.
We're looking to hold Hicks at around 215 pounds. For him to be 220 to 223, I don't think he can function as great as he can at 215. If he can be strong at 215 and hold a body fat of seven or eight percent, that's pretty good. Him getting big just to get big is not going to help.
CN: How have the four true freshmen fared?
McGettigan: In the short time Jason Scales has been here, he's made a lot of strides physically. When he came in his body fat was 9.3 percent. When I checked him (Monday) he was 6.0. Just from January to July he's improved that much.
We want him right at 190 pounds. He was a little bit heavier coming into the winter program. When he came on his visit, he was at 205 pounds and his body fat was not as good. But right now he's at 189. He's a guy you've got to be careful with, because he could get thick and big. We want him to get strong and be explosive, but we don't want him big just to be big. He's improved his lean body mass.
Tyease Thompson has been here the whole time and has done a nice job. We need to get him bigger and stronger, but he's got some quicks and can run. Right now he's at 169 pounds, so he's got a little work to do there.
Brandon Gunn was here for a little while, but went back to the Omaha Shrine Game. He was at 193 pounds and looked pretty good. He's a strong, stout kid that's pretty thick.
Greg Coleman has been here. He showed up at 236 pounds, which is not so good. We've got to get him down. Body fat wise, he might eventually be that big. But 225 pounds is a pretty good goal for him right now. We need to re-tool his diet through the training camp to bring his body fat down and lean body mass up. We've already gotten him down to 229.
CN: Give us a rundown of some of the top performing wide receivers and tight ends.
McGettigan: Todd Blythe has been very good and is at 209 pounds. Jon Davis has had an excellent summer program and needs to finish off what he's done. He's at 197 pounds right now and is goal is right at 200. Andy Kohler has been getting after it every day. He came off that ACL and looks as good as he's ever been. Todd Miller has been very good. Milan Moses is starting to put it all together. He's got the physical tools, but has to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Ryan Baum gets after it every single day and will compete with you.
All of the tight ends have been good. Ben Barkema has had an outstanding summer program. He's been doing everything well. He's run well and gotten stronger. He's at 247 pounds. There's a redshirt that is starting to see the benefits of all the effort.
CN: Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, we've heard speed has seemed to take on a different tone this summer. Go into that.
McGettigan: Overall as a group they've been outstanding. It's helped a little bit because we've been able to put a priority on strength. We're doing three days of speed work a week in some form or fashion. It's not only straight-ahead speed, but also lateral speed and agility. They're all going to have to be able to run, no matter if they're a front guy, linebacker or DB. We want to be a defense that can run and do it for four quarters.
CN: How about naming a few of the standouts along the line?
McGettigan: Brent Curvey played last year and had just been here a year, and he's improved physically. His lower-body strength and explosive power has improved. His upper-body strength was good when he came, but the lower-body strength was not. His explosive power needed to be better. He's 296 pounds right now. We've got to be careful with size to body weight, and not let him to get too big too fast. But he's improved physically.
Nick Leaders has had an outstanding summer. I really challenged him to put this thing together and have the best summer he's had, then take it into your third year here.
CN: Who are some of your top linebackers?
McGettigan: Brandon Brown, Jamarr Buchanan, and Matt Robertson have had great summers. Brown is at 228 pounds and we want to keep him under 230. Buchanan is about 225 and we'd like to see him at around 227-228.
McGettigan: Tim Dobbins is a big strong guy. His upper-body strength is very good. But his lower-body strength needs to improve. His mobility and flexibility need to improve. The kid has a great attitude and is coachable. I really like the kid's attitude and work ethic. You can coach him hard. He's improved immensely in the time he's been here. This is his fourth week in the program.
Ron Prelow has improved physically in a year's time. He's at 228 pounds and is starting to put it together. He's starting to realize what it takes to play at this level and is preparing himself. His overall body strength has improved and he's gotten in great condition. The work capacity is a big deal at this level. It's what football is all about. You have to train to play at a high level for long periods of time.
CN: What's your summer read on the secondary?
McGettigan: Caleb Berg is another redshirt guy that's doing a nice job. Ellis Hobbs continues to set the bar high with everything he's doing. His training has taken him to an elite level. Nik Moser has had a really nice summer program. Deandre Jackson has had a really nice program. Steve Paris has started to put it all together this summer.