The Florida Gators willingly, and without apparent trepidation, marched straight into hell Tuesday morning with the start of Nick Savage’s much-anticipated strength and conditioning offseason program. No one should have been shocked by anything they saw or went through, because the players have been warned how physically and mentally demanding these next few months are going to be under Savage and his staff.
In an interview with senior offensive tackle Martez Ivey last week, Ivey said Savage and the strength coaches have been talking to the players and telling them how they were going to be put through hell with all kinds of highly competitive situations in the weight room and on the conditioning fields.
Ivey said he and his teammates were actually looking forward to it.
“It’s something we need,” he said. “It’s going to help us become a better football team. It’s going to make us stronger as a whole unit. You’re going to see guys struggling and still continuing to fight, continuing to work hard. It’s going to be a whole different atmosphere, because we’re going to have a whole new level of trust and belief in each other.”
The Gators do need this. They desperately need it coming off a 4-7 season that saw this team caught in physical mismatches at times, like in the season-opening loss to Michigan, and again later in the season against Georgia and FSU.
The fact the players know they need this is a great sign. These are highly competitive athletes who want to be pushed, want to be challenged, want to become stronger and faster and tougher. Want to be a better football team. The work — the hell — began Tuesday morning. And it’s only going to grow tougher.
Sometime after national signing day (Feb. 7), members of the media are going to have a chance to spend some time with Savage and some of the players. It will give us a little glimpse into how hell can change a football team and its attitude.
While the Gators have started to work on next season, several former Gators are continuing their play in the postseason.
Six former Gators will be playing in the NFL’s two conference championship games Sunday — Dante Fowler and Lerentee McCray with the Jaguars, Trey Burton and Jaylen Watkins with the Eagles, Mike Gillislee with the Patriots and Mack Brown with the Vikings.
Two other former Gators will be playing in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 27 — cornerback Duke Dawson and punter Johnny Townsend.
Tw more are on playing in Saturday’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif., tight end Deandre Goolsby and receiver/kick returner Brandon Powell.
Looking for LBs
Dan Mullen and his staff have some recruiting needs they need to fill between now and Feb. 7, but the biggest one of all appears to be at linebacker, where the Gators currently have only seven scholarship linebackers on the active roster. Two others remain on the suspended list — Ventrell Miller and James Houston IV.
The Gators signed only one linebacker, David Reese, during the early signing period in December, but he is listed as a defensive back on the school’s official list of signees.
UF desperately needs linebackers. The problem is the recruiting board at linebacker is very thin at the moment, with no obvious leans toward the Gators.
With UF expected to play a lot of 3-4 defense (three linemen, four linebackers) under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the numbers are scary low at linebacker at the moment.
The question that should be asked, but Robbie and Pat never would, is why Gator players even need to be pushed by someone to get better. It’s hogwash, like most of the stuff heard every off season in Gainesville, that the new strength and conditioning coach is going to make a difference. It’s a fact that you don’t need anyone to help you work hard in the offseason. It’s telling that Ivey welcomes someone. Why didn’t he get off his tail and do the hard work himself last season? There’s lways an excuse, isn’t there, when it comes to why UF gets it’s – kicked. I say that the no-neck, little brain, people that are strength and conditioning coaches are just extra bagage. The great players don’t need no stinkin’ coach to motivate them to work hard. Deion Sanders worked his tail off to become the best. maybe the Gator players will learn that , if they need someone to make them want to work hard, maybe they just need to pack it in and resign themselves to being the mediocre team they are right now.
UF leads the all time series vs. FSU in football; always has. Always will. Both you and Deion will never know anything different. I’m thinking the little 7 year run you guys have enjoyed is coming to an end with your version of Ron Zook at the helm. Enjoy!
Wow, some serious negativity and hostility there. It seems to me that a professionally run strength and conditioning program would teach young men how to properly prepare themselves physically for the rigors of a college football season and career. I would think that it couldn’t hurt that these young men might be building team chemistry and cohesiveness during the “off season”.
Obviously you didn’t read about the number of Gator players paying on their own to get more conditioning and training. To me, that sounds like they were doing a bit of hard work on their own, and as far as the gym, unless you’re a giant musclehead, or driven for greatness, which is normally a small percent, you want to have someone laying out a successful plan and pushing you to push yourself.
Hi Mikey. Welcome back, wannabe.
Where is Rick Gilmore?
Where is Rick Gilmore?
I’d like an Egg McMuffin and a large coffee with two cream and one sugar, please.
The ignorance and mindless vitriol in “thetebowcurse” comments are laughable. All athletes that compete at a high level have strength and conditioning coaches and programs, whether they be NFL, NBA, MLB, Olympians, or collegiate. From the sheer stupidity demonstrated in his (her?) remarks, one can safely conclude that this person got no closer to the field or court of play than perhaps laundering jock straps (certainly not wearing one!) and cleaning up the locker room. Thanks for trolling, it gives the rest of us something to laugh about!
Sanders could work hard all day because he never attended class.
Every team needs leadership and direction. Especially during the off season. To have the conditioning coach set up training programs for the athletes, both team wide and individual instruction only keeps the team focused during the long off season. Those that embrace the new direction and work at the skills taught will benefit greatly down the road. GO GATORS!
To the person who goes by the name of thetebowcurse. In many cases these are 18-19-20 year old kids, who might have all the desire in the world to be great, but have no idea what that takes. Give the staff a chance to work with these kids and make them better and stronger. Sounds like you’ve been drinking the negative kool-aide too long.
He’s a Seminoles fan who has never gotten over not being accepted to UF. Now he is a proud crew member at Mickey D’s.
Oh good! A new incarnation of Mikey Winter! Missed you during FS-Whoo’s swoon last season.
When we Fl teams meet on the fields of competitition, cheer and root for your team. However, as FloGrown, let’s all stick together and ward off the evil empires north of our Great State! Go Gators!
You show me one athlete who has done training on their own with any help…some guys after years of training can train themselves to compete but most will still use a trainer….this is no different
This has been said more times than probably should be repeated… But, how does a coach who made $5 plus million per year berate his bosses about spending tens of millions on upgraded facilities, but never pushes his players on an intense strength/conditioning program to be competitive in the SEC? The more time that passes, the more it becomes evident that McElwain was a horrible HBC in the SEC and probably one of the worst, if not the worst, head coaching hires in the history of UF.. way beyond Ron Zook and Doug Dickey. I’m not saying Will Muschamp is the second coming of Nick Saban, but does coach “Aw Shucks” win the east without Will’s players? Pretty sure that’s a resounding no. Good lord he was horrible. That guy stole money from this school. I would not let him coach a YMCA flag football team. I have no idea what J Foley was thinking when he settled on him.
“Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought”.
The results on the field this fall will provide the results of the ‘grueling’ strength and conditioning program. Mac won 2 east titles with Muschamp;s guys. Now Mullen must win with McElwain’s guys. If Mac’s guys are like him, the strength and conditioning program has a long way to go before it provides strength and conditioning on the field.