Q&A with Jerry Schmidt: Part 3

OU's strength and conditioning coach talks more about the techniques and philosophies that have sent him to the top of his profession. (Photo by LaizurePhoto)

OUInsider.com continues the exclusive series with Strength and Conditioning Coach Jerry Schmidt on the offseason program that makes the Sooners champions every season.

JH: Under you, Jason White worked so hard that he looked like a linebacker his senior year. Do the quarterbacks do the same workouts as everybody else or do you have special workouts set up just for them?

JS: "We don't treat our quarterbacks any different, but they will do some different flexibility stuff. We throw them right in with the guys they are going to go out there and play with. I think that is very important that the linemen look over and they are running with them or they are getting tested on a squat, and the quarterbacks are right there with them. More importantly, they have to be mentally tough as well because they are going to take a beating. They must have that good core strength to them so they can hold up from all those hits they are going to take.

"We hope they are not going to get hit too much, but they always take some hits during a game, and we need to make sure that mentally they are set for it. We put them through some agility stuff that allows them to escape some different things, but we don't treat them any differently. We keep training them with the team because that way they are right there with their teammates and they understand the importance of being tough."

JH: You are considered by many as the leader in your industry, and you have developed that reputation by working at some great football programs like Nebraska, Notre Dame and Florida. Are you always coming up with new techniques or are there certain basics that will always be with as long as you are strength and conditioning coach?

JS: "I think that you could say that I robbed stuff from each program. I think I have worked hard at it and I have come up with some new ideas, but I have always taken stuff from each program that could help me. I think it just comes down to selling each athlete that we are going to get better and to get each athlete to believe that they can do great things.

"Actually, things are going back to the old days of pulling tires and running sprints. People tried to get fancy, but it always comes back to the fundamentals like your cleans, your squat, pulling tires and a number of the old drills. Everybody always tries to use new gadgets, but they always go back to the old reliable drills that have always worked.

"Sometimes it is just like the old power play which has been used in football forever. There are people that get away from it, but it is my philosophy that if has worked before and before, then we should continue to use it.

"It always comes back to getting tougher and getting the guys to buy into the team. The team has to buy into the importance of each other, pay the price and to be tougher than the other guy. I think that is what separates good players from other players is that they believe in what they are doing.

"We put a lot of emphasis on hips and leg strength, and I learned coming from Florida to here that you had to have a mixture of strength and the ability to run. I have learned a lot just watching our coaches teach offense and defense. I have picked up a number of ideas for drills just watching them."

JH: Coach Jackie Shipp always says the team that is going to win the football game is going to block and tackle the best. You are saying the team that will get the best out of their offseason program will work on the basics the best?

JS: "That is true, and many times we try to get to fancy. I catch us doing that as well sometimes. Your players have to believe and they have to believe that we are out-working every other team in the country and that we are going to be tougher than them. I think you have a leg up if you work hard enough to convince your players of that.

"It is just like the old gassers way of conditioning. Some people say intervals or some kind of sequential sprint sequence is best, but in reality it all comes down to just putting your hand down and just running gassers and being in better shape than our opponent. So, when it comes time to go into the fourth quarter of whatever game you are in, we know that we are hungry and that we have paid the price in the summer and that we are going to be the best conditioned team in the fourth quarter. That is always going to help us win that game."

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