â†µThe drills were a variation on the ritual torture many college football programs put their players through leading up to actual spring practice: mat drills, or the nonstop conditioning drills designed to work players into shape, build team cohesion, and find out which players lose their lunch after 45 minute of constant motion. If you've been through anything like this, you know you're in trouble the minute you see no weights, no balls, no fun athletic gadgets on the field ... just some cones, towels, and a bunch of coaches screaming at the top of your lungs to move faster. â†µ
â†µIt would have been worse: drills were supposed to take place at 5:45 AM, but the weekend snow forced a postponement to the afternoon. (Subsequent drills in the next two weeks will take place at 5:45 AM. I will not be there.) â†µâ†µ
â†µCoach Paul Johnson took the players through roughly an hour of straight activity in the cold. Drills were punctuated by little talking and much coughing, a noise increasing as the players' lungs got chapped by the cold air as the hour went on and the weather started to take a toll. Most were the kind of agility drills you would shred an ACL on: quick change of direction drills with coaches calling out positions to run to, cone drills, and one drill where players spun around towels with one hand on the ground that I am absolutely certain would have been the most embarrassing moment of the day for a rank amateur. (Players were flying through this drill, meaning the average person would have fallen over twice and vomited on the third go-round.) â†µâ†µ
â†µThe simplicity was impressive; more so was the endurance of the team, since players cycled through stations in bursts, running through the circuit until groups began to flag and make mistakes. Toward the end of practice, Johnson would ask his coaches to evaluate the units with a thumbs up or thumbs down; groups not keeping up got the thumbs down, a verdict putting that group in the middle of the field to sit and watch the others. This sounds like a pleasant break, but it was cold enough to be a punishment in terms of temperature alone, and the shame of dropping out seemed to genuinely irritate the players. When the offensive line was called out of drills to sit, unprintable grumbling seethed from them as they puffed to the middle of the field. â†µâ†µ
â†µOverall, Johnson was pleased. Especially since no one fell out as they did in year one under Johnson's new training regimen. â†µâ†µ
â†µStrength and Conditioning Coach Eric Ciano was fairly happy, too, and like all strength and conditioning coaches has no voice. If you're good, this is a job requirement. â†µâ†µ
â†µJust a reminder courtesy of Georgia Tech that in the last throes of winter, football is coming. The baby is six months off, yes. But it's gestating nicely on the practice fields and in the weight rooms as we speak. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.