Daily Football Fix: It’s more than pumping iron for Gators

Florida center T.J. McCoy (59) lines up with the rest of the offense against Texas A&M last season at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

Like most of his Florida teammates, junior center T.J. McCoy has gotten bigger and stronger under new strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage.

But McCoy said Savage’s program is so much more than just pumping iron and bulking up.

“Coach Savage is a great coach,” McCoy said. “And it’s not just Coach Savage, it’s the whole training staff. They’re all about straining. Straining is going past your limit to what you thought you could do. You can do more.

“That’s in the weight room, that’s running. It’s just everything that the coaches are creating around here. It’s just going real well.”

The Savage way isn’t just about straining, McCoy said. It’s also about doing the right things at the training table and away from the football field and weight room.

“Coach Savage is big on eating right. He’s big on hydrating,” McCoy said. “The one thing he tells us every day after we workout is, ‘Be a champion.’

“If I don’t get a protein shake after a workout, he’s like, ‘You’re not a champion because a champion would have gotten one. A champion would have done the right thing. A champion would have done this, done that.’ It’s all about being a champion.”

There’s definitely a different culture in the weight room under Savage and his staff. Several players have commented how lax things were in workouts under the old staff.

Former defensive tackle Taven Bryan, a first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, said in the spring that last season’s team looked like a collection of Pillsbury dough boys.

McCoy agrees.

“I believe so,” he said. “I can honestly say Coach Savage has made me a lot stronger, especially in my upper body. The transformation pictures that I’m sure everybody’s seen (are impressive).

“The one guy I really like to show is Cece Jefferson. I’ve never seen Cece look like that in my life. He’s ripped. Coach Savage is making us a better team and better players. I’m just excited that he came here.”



  1. there may be one or two things one coach does that the other coach doesn’t, so this whole thread isn’t much, but these guys also need to learn to focus better imo…which means dropping some things that don’t have the high yield for the time. Take the QB position. If Franks learns to not go after plays that aren’t there, that is focus, the elimination of things so you can concentrate on what has a better chance of working (that definition of focus comes from the late Steve Jobs). Offensive Linemen need to improve working memory so they always are solid on their assignments for each play. Off season is not just weight lifting, its retraining the mind of the player since there wont be time in October.

  2. “The one guy I really like to show is Cece Jefferson. I’ve never seen Cece look like that in my life. He’s ripped. Coach Savage is making us a better team and better players. I’m just excited that he came here.”

    I’ve been saying this since there was speculation of CeCe going pro….he’s going to be a beast in this 3-4 system as an OLB/Standing DE, and if he doesn’t end up all-american and a 1st round pick next year, i’ll be shocked. He is an incredible athlete, with an amazing attitude. I’m a huge Jefferson fan, and I completely believe that he could have a season that we haven’t seen since Wilbur Marshall, and that’s saying a lot.

    • Corey….I’m getting that feeling too. I think CeCe is gonna have a monster year!

      Maybe it’s just wishful thinking for long suffering Gator fans and yes, we’ve heard the hype before, but it really feels different this time. I guess we’ll know for sure in 3-4 months if the program has indeed turned around.

        • You know 6….I just hate to let myself get so optimistic. For the past 9 years optimism has bit me in the butt, year after year. I have gotten SO SICK of anticipating Gator football and by the 3rd week of September I am just freaking screaming at my big screen TV. It started with Addazio….oh my gosh how I hated his offense…and it just hasn’t gotten any better.

          So…(thanks for letting me get that out of my system)….I’ll take another peak at the schedule:

          I see wins with Charleston Southern, Kentucky, Col State, Vandy, Mizzou, and Idaho. So there’s your bowl eligibility.

          I see a loss in Jacksonville. So now we’re at 6-1.

          Toss up games are UT, Miss State, LSU, SC, and FSU. At the risk of being overly optimistic, I think I see 3 wins in there somewhere. Probably UT and SC can be won if we just show the improvement we all believe is coming. So, can we sneak a win from LSU, MSU, or FSU????

          I’m gonna jump on the bandwagon and call it 9-3 🙂

          • OK! The more I think about it, I think UT will be more of a problem in a year or two, so I’m going to call that one for the Gators. Same for FSU. What I’m not sure of is LSU, MSU, and USC. There are going to be some tough times, some ups and downs, way too early in the Mullen era for there not to be…..but I’m confident at p<.05 that it'll wind up 9-3. I wouldn't have said that as late as April, it still would have been 8-4, but a lot has happened since then. Thanks, bud.

  3. On a side note, seeing that picture of our “alternate” uniforms makes me wish we would just have one home and one away look and stick with it. We should also get rid of Foley’s stupid F is for Failure helmet design. It corresponded with the implosion of the program orchestrated in part by Foley, and is a absolute mark of total disgrace that needs to be eliminated along with the the groups of inept coaches that fool brought in.

    • The “F” letter is a reminder of the old days…..the really old days when the Gators couldn’t even win an SEC championship. The “Gators” script on the other hand, brings to mind the pre-history and prominence of the Gator program. In other words, the F is dumb and the Gators is cool!

      • Actually, I have to disagree on the alternate uniforms from last year. The kids love them, and they are the ones playing the games. I think they looked pretty good. Of course, they will look better if we start winning in them. Once in a while change is good. I do agree the “F” helmets are not the way to go. “Gators” looks much better. I do like the traditional uni’s the best though.

        • Point taken, Timothy. If they start their winning ways again, I for one won’t care if they take the field in bra, panties, jock strap, shoulder pads…..and of course, any helmet they choose!

          Don’t hold me to it, tho….not the bra and panties part, anyway.

        • I totally get that the alternate unis are for the kids. But as a fan, like many, I hate ’em. Keep the traditional unis…which I believe (a little biased as a Gainesville native) are the best unis in all of sports.

          Here’s a compromise: Build the athletes a water park, state of the art video arcade, and gold plated lounge chair extravaganza in the new football complex. In exchange…..they have to wear traditional uniforms 🙂

  4. The last time I lived in Gainesville included Emmitt Smith’s last year. A really nice kid who did a little yard work for me was a graduate aissistant in the strength and conditioning department in the Phys Ed college. According to him his job discription was spotting for the football team in the weight room. Of course I would grill him at length about who was hard working or not etc. like any other typical jock sniffing fan would do. Because of this young man I found myself able to talk to a PE Professor about Florida’s conditioning program. As everyone knows these were dark days for Florida Football with the extreme exception of Emmitt’s transcendant genius. I asked the Prof if he thought that with Florida’s crucial lack of depth that a more arobic approach to conditioning might help give the team a lot more stamina to compensate for their low numbers. And he agreed with me! He just shrugged his shoulders when I asked for his take on why the Gators weren’t changing their a.pproach to making more with less. It was stunning to me that someone like me who doesn’t really know how a cover two works come up with an idea that might have a big effect on the ability of players to remain strong into the 4th Quarter. Fast forward to last year’s opener debacle wherein the Gator Fatsos felt the pain of Wolverine snouts buried way-deep in their flabby pattuties all day. I’m sure some of you more astute fans will remember what Coach Macandcheese said about his team having its butts kicked by those bigger/stronger midwesterners. I couldn’t coach somebody out a dressing room at the local Belk’s. BUT I KNOW THAT IF I HAD A TEAM WITH NO NUMBERS AND NO TALENT I COULD MAKE SURE THEY WERE AS STRONG AND BIG AND FAST AS ANY OPPONENTS THEY FACED!! How on earth could a gazzionaire Head Ball Coach not make that his priority? (I realize these are the ravings of a classic windbag…sue me)

    • If this is Eugenio, and not Eugenia, you are typically a man of few words and get right to the point. Again, if this is Eugenia, today you took quite a few more words, uncharacteristically.

      But, that notwithstanding, you made a kick ass point that a lot of us have been screaming about for a long time too. You are NOT a windbag; if anything, give us more!

    • And yet…… it all comes down to “coaching”. How is it that a school like Appalachian State can beat a team like Michigan? The coaches took lesser talent and maximized their efforts and abilities. That’s what we’ve been missing. Not only did the last coaching staff NOT MAXIMIZE the players abilities… they didn’t even get a solid or average effort and production. Good coaching vs Bad coaching.

      Coach Mullen and his staff may not win the SEC this year, but I fully expect them to turn the program around to where much better “relentless?” effort is visible. After a 4 win season, I believe that this alone is worth 2 wins, making this a 6 win season just with a change in coaching focus.

      • I remember that game as if it were yesterday, Rog. Kind of like, how did Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson? I think it was all you mentioned, plus classic over-confidence on the part of Michigan. Of course, substitute Georgia Southern if you want to, and right there is the reason you take nothing for granted (which is a sign I had hanging on the wall next to my desk for over 30 years, given to me by a very wise Brigadier General when I was a 2LT).

        But you’re exactly right…..coaching, coaching, coaching…..relentless effort and coaching. If anybody can’t tell the difference this year vs last, they’re simply not paying attention.

      • Here’s a point that everyone’s missing or just not talking about. There was a hint of it in this article when Coach savage was talking to the player about being a champion.
        I have said it on this forum in the past. Good coaches are great at teaching the X’s & O’s, Great coaches motivate! Spurrier, Meyer, Saban all are great motivators! People just dont realize how much of this sport and most sports are mental! Rog just spoke of Appalachian State; Spurrier every year would win his 1st 5 games with no talent at SC. We all have seen it over and over again how a lesser talent team beats a superior team and hear all the excuses and questions how. We’ll, its mental. They have a coach who has not only prepared them physically & trained them but he has them believing they can win. He has prepared them mentally, he has MOTIVATED them. Why do you think Bama keeps winning? They go into games believing they are going to win, believing they are the best team in the SEC; they have tremendous confidence to go along with their preparation. How many times have you seen or heard of some sick person who just gave up, and consequently died and another person who defied all odds and beat a disease. you think its by chance? You think an inferior team wins a big one by chance? No, its mental. When you believe you are going to win you can stretch yourself way beyond what you think you are capable of. Couple that with a prepared team and you have a win. How many times have you seen a QB lose his confidence & then cant do anything right?
        Now what does this have to do with the Gators now?
        We see it in article after article, Coach mullen is MOTIVATING these guys. He has them BELIEVING in themselves and their team. We keep hearing what a different attitude they have now, we keep hearing about how much more confidence the players have.
        I think everyone is going to be shocked by the end of the season and will wonder how they underestimated this team. That’s my prediction! We have a coach who is at his dream job, one he dreamed of since he was a boy watching Spurrier coach UF. When you have that, you have a man who is pouring his heart and soul into this program, probably more so than he ever has done, because when you are at a dream job you want to succeed at it more than you ever have before. For those of you who have ever been truly in love, you know what I mean. You find yourself putting more effort into that relationship than you ever had before and more than you ever thought you would for any relationship. We are truly blessed to have coach Mullen and I think he will become the 2nd Gator coaching legend in football.

        • Daz, I have to say that you absolutely do your best thinking at 3:00 in the morning! Excellent insights, and well worth reading twice.

          I spent the majority of my adult life in uniform–never made any money at it, but then again it’s not really a job either–but if I learned one thing during that time, it’s that young men crave motivation. Sometimes more secretly, but they crave it nonetheless. In fact, I would tell you that’s the difference between leadership and management right there: Management is more about resources, humans being one category among many, but Leadership is all about the intangibles of inspiration; doing more than you simply have to; doing more than you think you can; even doing more, sometimes than you want to. All of our legendary coaches–I include Ray Graves, Steve Spurrier, Urban Myer, and Dan Mullen in the future no doubt–were good at the X & O part, sure, but the thing that distinguished them? The thing that set them apart? Leadership, aka, Motivation.

          I am so glad you posted this last night, bud, and that it was the first thing I read early this morning. It turned around what started off as a shitty day where I couldn’t find my robe, or my slippers, or my glasses….and my bloodhound had crapped all over the house. You numba one, GI!

  5. The letter F is also what was worn on the helmets when Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy in 1966. I should know, I was there. Mullen is doing what Spurrier did as a coach. He is changing the mental attitude first.