In part one with Coach Woodfin, he explored the change and transition in facilities and the mind-set of the team heading into spring practice.
Related Story: Winter Work-Outs Set The Stage
This winter, things looked a little bit different for several reasons. We've already mentioned the facility upgrades presented some challenges, but also Coach Woodfin and his staff decided to mix things up a little bit. With it being year two, the staff knew the players on a much better level and grew to know their needs, and they adjusted accordingly to give the players more of a focused work out to fit their needs.
As usual, the work-outs started early to test their mental state as much as anything.
"This winter was unique in that we had a new head coach come in and all the guys really were starting to meet the new position coaches and their head coach," Woodfin said.
"Coach Hop is amazing and I really believe he's going to do an incredible job here. His history here and he is extremely passionate about this university and he is very passionate about winning championships which he's done at Alcorn.
"Any time you have a new coaching staff it raises the intensity of everyone because you have to reprove yourself. You have to do that every year anyways, but especially when you have an entire new staff coming in that doesn't know who you are or what your work ethic is all about. That in itself brought the level of training sky high."
He also talked about the differences between the winter and summer work-out seasons.
"What we do in the winter that is unique is we have a series of 6 AM work-outs that last 4-5 weeks a couple of times a week," he added.
"We really just test our guys mental fortitude and that is really what its all about. It is really physically demanding but it is moreso about how you can respond mentally to the challenge when you are tired. When our players stepped up and encouraged each other that I was talking about earlier, it was happening during this early morning work-outs. These 6 am work outs test your mind and we really want to challenge our athletes minds to work harder than you ever thought you could and to never, ever, ever stop.
"If we can start translating that mental testing to the football field, we know it is going to be that extra drive that you need in the 4th quarter. It is that mental edge that gives Southern Miss its name, and will help us win a lot of football games."
Coach Woodfin was encouraged by what he saw physically from his guys.
"They really came in good shape to compete, and now our challenge is to think about once we get in shape, to not get out of shape again," he said.
"As far as the training goes, we put a big emphasis on our speed development, movement quality, and seeing guys become stronger than they ever were last year."
This winter was also unique in the groupings of players to try and push those at an elite level even higher, and build from the ground up with those just coming in.
"We had groupings based off of their level of experience and training and based off their strength and power," he explained.
Beginning group: "We had a beginning or a foundational group that consisted of about 30 guys. The way we trained them was a lot of teaching and getting them to move really well. We taught them about recovery and nutrition and we wanted them off to a really good start."
Intermediate group: "Guys that were really good in their technique and were beyond the foundational level but they need more size and strength to compete at the D1 level. We really focused on getting these guys bigger and stronger."
Advanced group: "Upperclassman who have played a lot of games for us and have been all-conference players. For them, it is about that small edge. How can we take you from being one of the best players in C-USA to being one of the best players in America? That was our advanced group and it is different than what we did last year."
"Everyone is now grouped based on their needs and everyone has to progress and prove they are ready to move to the next group. We've never had it geared to everyone doing the same thing anyways. We have always had it geared to the position you play. But, this takes it an extra step. It is individualized and even more focused. They have to earn their way into the next level. By doing it like that, guys will be bigger and stronger than they ever were.
"It is like building a house, and to be the best in the country we have to build in a methodical way. If we don't build brick by brick, the foundation will crumble. The guys have taken to that and they know we have their best interest at heart. We want to develop them over 4-5 years and do it the right way. When they are a junior and senior, we want them feeling better than they ever have in their life. Their is a road map to getting there."