T Nation

Holtz Thought Full Squats Shredded Knees

Strength coach has orders from Spurrier to build a stronger, faster Gamecock

By JOSEPH PERSON
Staff Writer

Mark Smith knows squat about strength training.

Unlike former South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, who believed squats would shred knee ligaments faster than a Cuisinart, Smith, the Gamecocks? new strength coach, thinks the leg exercise is the foundation for any football training regimen.

?That?s a core lift,? Smith said. ?Leg strength is tremendous in football. You have to be strong in the lower body, and I think squatting is a great lift.?

While Steve Spurrier spent much of his first 2? months at USC searching for future players, Smith and his staff were behind the scenes trying to make the Gamecocks? returning players stronger and faster.

?A few guys need to gain some weight, and most of them need to lose a little bit,? Spurrier said. ?That?s basically it ? stronger and faster. Not necessarily bigger, but stronger and faster.?

To that end, players lift four days a week and have mandatory 6 a.m. conditioning workouts three times a week ? a schedule they will keep until spring practice begins next month. The winter program is similar to that employed by Holtz?s staff with a few notable exceptions.

Quarter squats are out, replaced by full squats in which a player gets his backside parallel with his knees before returning to an upright position. Spurrier also is working on his players? diets, encouraging them to substitute grilled chicken for the fried chicken that he discovered was a prepractice staple in years past.

?They?re trying. I don?t think we?re near where I hope someday our players will be as far as diet is concerned,? Spurrier said. ?But they?re making an effort. It is something completely new for probably 50 percent of our guys to tell them to eat vegetables and lettuce and salads and things like that.?

USC head athletics trainer Rod Walters has a nutritionist working with the team, and student trainers police team dinners at the Russell House cafeteria to make sure players are eating right. Defensive end Moe Thompson said he was flagged one night attempting to order pizza.

?I tried to sneak a pizza, and they were like, ?No football players in that line,?? said Thompson, who instead choked down a supper of baked fish, green beans and salad.

Holtz?s teams were not known for their finishing strength, posting a 3-15 record in November during his six seasons. But Spurrier refused to speculate on whether the late-season collapses were the result of Holtz?s teams being out of shape.

?I don?t know if they were or were not. All I know is that our goal is to be the very best conditioned team we can be,? Spurrier said. ?If that?s the best in the league, fine. If there?s some other teams out there working just as hard as us, there?s nothing we can do about that.?

Smith, Spurrier?s strength coach at Florida and with the Washington Redskins, left his post with the New Orleans Saints to reunite with Spurrier and return to the Carolinas. (Smith grew up in Kannapolis, N.C.)

The 40-year-old Smith weighs nearly the same as he did as an N.C. State linebacker from 1983-87. Smith lifts four days a week, does cardio three days and tries to ?eat pretty clean,? as well.

As Spurrier said, ?He looks like a strength and conditioning coach.?

Smith believes keeping his Arnold-like physique is part of the job requirement.

?If I came in and didn?t look like I was in condition, what kind of example am I setting for the players?? he said. ?If I?m asking them to do it, I have to do it myself, too.?

Spurrier has a similar attitude about the early-morning workouts. Though he does not do the running, Spurrier recently made 10 conditioning sessions in a row after getting a 5:20 a.m. wakeup call at his Columbia hotel. The former Florida coach was pleased to report that players have had few alarm clock malfunctions.

?The other day I was in there and I counted how many bodies we had working out. We had the whole team. … We had 88 guys in there,? Spurrier said. ?Everybody was on time. Everybody was hustling. Everybody had a good attitude.?

Added tight end Andy Boyd: ?I think a lot of guys like doing (the workouts) early. You get them out of the way early in the day.?

Boyd said the conditioning drills feature more speed work than in the past. Depending on their position, players are required to make specific time goals for as many as 30 50-yard sprints across the width of the field.

In the weight room, Thompson said the biggest adjustment has been getting his legs acclimated to the full squats after three years of pseudo-squats.

?I think they were in pretty decent shape,? Smith said. ?The squats were the big thing. They weren?t used to going to the depth that we wanted them to, so we had to get them used to that.?

They seem to be getting the hang of it. During a recent workout defensive linemen De?Adrian Coley and Brook Antonio each had 435 pounds on the squat rack for their final set of three reps.

After finishing with squats, the players followed Smith across the weight room to a row of wooden boxes for plyometrics work. Positioned between two of the boxes, Smith stared intently as players jumped up one by one, then climbed off the platforms.

Smith clapped his hands occasionally and encouraged a few players to ?push it.? Other than that, he said little. A visitor remarked that Smith likely only had to tell players to do something once.

?When he walks in, it is more intense,? Thompson said. ?He?s just about business.?

?He?s stern,? added offensive line coach John Hunt, who worked with Smith at Florida and with the Redskins. ?It?s amazing. It takes time, but after a while everyone will get it and it will be a walk in the park.?
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/sports/colleges/university_of_south_carolina/10967557.htm

Interesting. I didn’t know D-1 football coaches were allowed by NCAA regs to attend off-season conditioning workouts.

That article is cool as hell very important points…things we’ve heard before, but it’s great to see that the word is spreading.

Here you have a coach who obviously had a lot of power. He used it, even forcing the strength coach to coach lifts a certain way. South Carolina is getting better. I remember when they had a coach who used the smith machine for squats. Current trends and current college strength coaches can be a mile away obviously. Many D1 coaches that exist now were former players, naturally became Ga’s and worked their way up.

There are a lot of great college strength coaches out there. My two cents here is to check out anything written by or interviews of Wake Forest’s Ethan Reeve.

[quote]Axel wrote:
Interesting. I didn’t know D-1 football coaches were allowed by NCAA regs to attend off-season conditioning workouts.[/quote]

they are, they just aren’t allowed to hold football practices, or take a ball out while they are on the field.

now if the players were to have involuntary practices, where they somehow stumbled upon the playbook relayed thru to them, while the coach watched off in the distance, and then accidently yelled instructions outloud to himself, and a S&C coach were to accidently hear this, and then decide to perhaps relay pertinent information to his qb, well then it’s all just accidental right?

and just for the record I fucking hate our 6am morning sessions.

[quote]Axel wrote:
There are a lot of great college strength coaches out there. My two cents here is to check out anything written by or interviews of Wake Forest’s Ethan Reeve.[/quote]

I think one of the best ever was Buddy Morris at Pitt.

Until he brought a certain “guru” in on false pretences.

Hey even the best make mistakes sometime right?

[quote]hoosierdaddy wrote:

they are, they just aren’t allowed to hold football practices, or take a ball out while they are on the field.

now if the players were to have involuntary practices, where they somehow stumbled upon the playbook relayed thru to them, while the coach watched off in the distance, and then accidently yelled instructions outloud to himself, and a S&C coach were to accidently hear this, and then decide to perhaps relay pertinent information to his qb, well then it’s all just accidental right?

and just for the record I fucking hate our 6am morning sessions.

[/quote]

That’s interesting. I’m pretty skeptical in general, but I bought into the whole 20 hours per week during the season, etc. reforms.

[quote]Axel wrote:
hoosierdaddy wrote:

they are, they just aren’t allowed to hold football practices, or take a ball out while they are on the field.

now if the players were to have involuntary practices, where they somehow stumbled upon the playbook relayed thru to them, while the coach watched off in the distance, and then accidently yelled instructions outloud to himself, and a S&C coach were to accidently hear this, and then decide to perhaps relay pertinent information to his qb, well then it’s all just accidental right?

and just for the record I fucking hate our 6am morning sessions.

That’s interesting. I’m pretty skeptical in general, but I bought into the whole 20 hours per week during the season, etc. reforms.[/quote]

without giving away too much information, (sorry, can’t ever be too carefull), certain universities offer classes by the football coach, for credit, which usually fall under the name “coaching in football” alot of game tape is watched, perhaps that universities previous opponent on the first class of the week, and then on the subsequent two days of the week the upcoming opponent. These classes are scheduled at 730 in the morning, and tend to be near the football offices. You can only enter the class by instructor approval (the head coach). Morning conditioning ends around 7.

Take a wild guess as to who is enrolled in those classes.

Nice little way of circumventing the rules by making it a class which can be enrolled in.

Besides, 20 hours a week is plenty, when you consider that watching tape is taken out of the equation.

20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc.

Counting the burning of 10 hours on gameday, I chose not to play university ball because of the 40 hr/wk commitment.

Then I get into the therapy side instead and spend the same time plus an hour a day. Go figure…

[quote]Axel wrote:
20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc. [/quote]

yeah, sometimes you wonder why you do it

then you step on the field and 50,000 are screaming for you, rooting you on, living vicariously thru you… there is just something about football, it’s the sport of sports

and just like that you are reminded real quickly why you got out of bed every winter at 6 in the morning

[quote]hoosierdaddy wrote:
Axel wrote:
20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc.

yeah, sometimes you wonder why you do it

then you step on the field and 50,000 are screaming for you, rooting you on, living vicariously thru you… there is just something about football, it’s the sport of sports

and just like that you are reminded real quickly why you got out of bed every winter at 6 in the morning
[/quote]

So true, there’s nothing quite like football. And I never played in front of 50,000 people, believe me–but high school ball in front of 1,000 or JV in front of 50 or just no pads tackle in the mud in front of a few squirrels wasn’t bad at all.

[quote]Axel wrote:
hoosierdaddy wrote:
Axel wrote:
20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc.

yeah, sometimes you wonder why you do it

then you step on the field and 50,000 are screaming for you, rooting you on, living vicariously thru you… there is just something about football, it’s the sport of sports

and just like that you are reminded real quickly why you got out of bed every winter at 6 in the morning

So true, there’s nothing quite like football. And I never played in front of 50,000 people, believe me–but high school ball in front of 1,000 or JV in front of 50 or just no pads tackle in the mud in front of a few squirrels wasn’t bad at all.
[/quote]

haha, those squirrels can be some fierce spectators, fuck up and you might just get a nut thrown at you… but yeah, those were the days, ever play 20 on 20 no pads tackle in the mud? so much fun, even with all the stitches i’ve been able to accure.

Loved the article! I train and condition middle and high school basketball players. Always super interested in learning what other coaches R doing re: using strength training 2 enhance athletic performance.

I have to second the use of full squats. When I played college ball, I began a program that worked me up over several months 2 several heavy sets of 3 reps. Eventually, I was finishing up w/ 3-4x3 with 315lbs. Not a lot of weight 4 many t-mag disciples. But I was 180# at 6’5". Anyway, my leaping ability increased like 9000 (a helluva lot)! B-4 the program, I already got my elbow 2 the rack, but off a 2-3 steps approach. W/ that squat program, I did this from a cold stand still(man that felt good!). My explosiveness went through the roof. And my knees were no worse 4 the wear. We used no plyometrics. Our coaches believed all the jumping done in practice and games was enough.

You can’t tell me full squats are bad. I am now 45. I coach the game in addition 2 conditioning players. But what really excites me is that I still play the game, can still dunk (my elbow ain’t at the rim but hell, I’m an old man) and full squats, among other things R a difference maker 4 me.

Appreciate the great article. Can I have some more, please?

[quote]hoosierdaddy wrote:
Axel wrote:
hoosierdaddy wrote:
Axel wrote:
20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc.

yeah, sometimes you wonder why you do it

then you step on the field and 50,000 are screaming for you, rooting you on, living vicariously thru you… there is just something about football, it’s the sport of sports

and just like that you are reminded real quickly why you got out of bed every winter at 6 in the morning

So true, there’s nothing quite like football. And I never played in front of 50,000 people, believe me–but high school ball in front of 1,000 or JV in front of 50 or just no pads tackle in the mud in front of a few squirrels wasn’t bad at all.

haha, those squirrels can be some fierce spectators, fuck up and you might just get a nut thrown at you… but yeah, those were the days, ever play 20 on 20 no pads tackle in the mud? so much fun, even with all the stitches i’ve been able to accure.
[/quote]

The field we played on as kids was in the middle of my block. For some reason at one end there was no end zone, just a metal fence. One time I remember I jumped higher than I ever had before and caught a touchdown. But I also managed to a) go over the fence, cutting my back on the way over and b)get chased by a dog on the other side.

That’s awesome that you can still dunk. I lost my ability soon after I quit playing B Ball. Also, I am 50 pounds heavier than I was when I was playing basketball. I think that perhaps conditioning is why the Cocks get flat in the second half of the season.

[quote]hoosierdaddy wrote:
Axel wrote:
20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc.

yeah, sometimes you wonder why you do it

then you step on the field and 50,000 are screaming for you, rooting you on, living vicariously thru you… there is just something about football, it’s the sport of sports

and just like that you are reminded real quickly why you got out of bed every winter at 6 in the morning
[/quote]

50,000 fans, I guess you don’t play for IU.

[quote]schmeidecki wrote:
hoosierdaddy wrote:
Axel wrote:
20 hours a week does seem like plenty. I know that before the reforms it wasn’t uncommon for players to be occupied with football from noon to eight p.m. on weekdays between lifting, getting taped, practice, training table, etc.

yeah, sometimes you wonder why you do it

then you step on the field and 50,000 are screaming for you, rooting you on, living vicariously thru you… there is just something about football, it’s the sport of sports

and just like that you are reminded real quickly why you got out of bed every winter at 6 in the morning

50,000 fans, I guess you don’t play for IU.[/quote]

But IU does play at Rentschler Field (UCONN), which seats 44,000+. Then again, they’re probably screaming AT the IU players and not FOR them! :slight_smile:

They also play OSU and UM from time to time. 100,000+ there.