Notebook: Players praising strength and conditioning

Nick Savage, the strength and conditioning coach with the Florida Gators, tells players to hydrate before the second spring practice at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus on Saturday. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The UF players seem unanimous in their belief that strength and conditioning coordinator Nick Savage has made a big difference in getting them mentally and physically prepared for camp and the start of the season.

UF coach Dan Mullen agrees.

“With Coach Savage, we’re bigger, stronger, faster,” he said.

Senior defensive tackle Khairi Clark said there’s a big difference between now and last season in terms of strength and endurance.

He said the Gators basically ran out of gas in almost every game last season.

“I would honestly say it was the majority of the games,” Clark said. “Last year I felt like we weren’t as strong as what we are right now, because of the staff we had last year. We didn’t get pushed as hard as to what this staff does for us. I feel it’s a big difference now, because this staff has actually made all of us very stronger, and we’re noticing it during practice.”

Effort lacking?

While Mullen is happy about the shape his team is in, he’s not been pleased with the overall effort through the first few practices of camp.

“Our guys have really got to learn the level of our expectations that we need them to work at,” Mullen said. “Worrying about how hard can you go from the beginning to the end of practice. When that comes as an entire team, we’ll continue to make improvements.”

“Physically, I think we’re fine. I don’t know if they’ve worked to the level we expect them to work in training camp. It’s not they can’t. They’re in shape enough to. They’ve just got to learn how to work at the level we expect them to go at. But physically, we do a good job. We’re bigger, faster and stronger than we were in the spring.”

Line struggles

UF’s offensive line is in familiar territory. The big guys are struggling with consistency, Mullen said

“They’re coming along,” Mullen said. “Again, we’ve thrown a bunch at them. The first couple days I’ve just seen too many up-and-down performances from them. A lot of it’s still new. I would put the pressure on them to learn the investment they have to put in.

“It’s a little bit too inconsistent for me right now on the offensive line and the offense as a whole. That’s just where we have to have great mental toughness and focus on what’s going on on the field.”



  1. After watching the Qb’s throw the ball at the feet of the running backs in drills and the running backs almost having to stop their pattern to catch the ball, Coach is 100% right about being consistent. Way to hesitant in throwing the ball in a drill?

  2. You play they way you practice, so I am glad to see Mullen demanding more and better effort, more consistency. Now is the time for the team to develop the focus and mental toughness they need to compete and win against quality opponents. The players themselves have admitted they were in the habit of taking plays off on a regular basis under Yellow Teeth, who seemed mostly concerned only with whether they were “fun to be around” as he kept babbling all the time.

    Not Mullen. He wants these players to reach the greatness they have within them, and I hope they appreciate that this is how a coach who actually cares about his players operates.

  3. I’m more worried about CDM’s comments on the lack of consistency from the O-Line than the QBs. The O-line has way more game experience and should be a more cohesive group. The season rests on their shoulders.

  4. Strength training under Savage is, according to one of my Gainesville scouts, like SEAL TEAM TRAINING PART 5.
    Strength is good. Not having a
    QB is bad.
    Should Toney be given a chance and turn the Gators back to the read/option offense?

  5. Every time I read a story about how lacking the previous S&C program was it just befuddles me. There are no words strong enough to describe the level of incompetence it took to screw the pooch in that area. You would think after coaching at Alabama for 4 years Chester Cheetos Teeth would have some inkling about how important it is. I’m not qualified enough to teach a player how to put their cleats on but even I know how important it is.

    • I’ve said this several times recently, but will say again, I could see it plain as day the last couple years that there was major S&C problem, if only due to all the excessive and goofy injuries, as well as the overall player underperformance. I used to blog about it constantly, but nobody ever seemed to get it. Not on this board, sportswriters, or in the locker room. All I ever heard were the apologists claiming how injuries happen, and some guy fell awkwardly, blah, blah… Why it took Mullen’s arrival to figure this one out I’ll never know, but sure happy he’s here now. Go Gators, Go Trask!!!

  6. Hopefully our players understand that it’s not the talent that’s going to win Florida the tight games. If hey are to win any sort of championship, it will be because of their strong will, character, values and last but not least the bonds that they forge with each other and Gator nation. We’ve had tons of talent the past few years; however, some questionable choices made by a number of players always seem to be in the way of sustained success. Sadly, we’re seeing some of these players continuing to lack maturity and making bad decisions. That said, the key question is whether Mullen’s staff can build enough of the core players who have faltered in the past and turn them into strong character individuals who will win championshipS. History has it that Mullen is a proven character builder, so can’t wait to see our Gators play our dumb rivals this year.

  7. Inconsistent QBs and OL. An old Florida refrain. But things can change. I remember Bear Bryant in early August decades ago growling that “our running backs run like they have pianos on their backs.” His running backs responded by having a great year. Mullen surely has to change the mindset and expectations of this team, including prodding them into better effort. Enthusiasm only goes so far. Last year, as Khairi Clark says, they wore down late in virtually every game. It’s likely that it was not just physical but mental. One vital change for Mullen to achieve is developing in these Gators a tough mindedness that translates into the confidence, willpower and execution to win when outcomes are on the line.

    • Speaking of Bear Bryant, Clyde — I remember him saying after Bama had beaten down some team 49-0, “Well, we were just lucky, they outplayed and out coached us for a full sixty minutes, we should be ashamed of ourselves but we’ll take the win anyway”.