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BOGACZYK: Herd Lifted More than Title Hopes in Offseason

New equipment now dons the Dunfee Weight Room
Aug. 6, 2014

Upgraded equipment in the Dunfee Weight Room

By JACK BOGACZYK

HERDZONE.COM COLUMNIST

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - It's already back-to-school time. So, how was your summer?

For Marshall's football team, it was an uplifting experience ... and not just due to the Thundering Herd's lofty forecasts for the 2014 season in Conference USA and perhaps beyond.

Pool time? Coach Doc Holliday's team did get two sessions in Fitch Natatorium in the Henderson Center as something new in their summer strength and conditioning program.

And it this case, it was "familiarity breeds results." With Scott Sinclair in his second year as Marshall's director of strength and conditioning, introductions weren't necessary. That seemed to lift more than spirits.

"This year compared to last year was so much better," Sinclair said in his Dunfee Weight Room office Monday morning just before August camp began. "Our plan was in place, the things we do, they understood. The teaching we had to do was a little less. And with all that said, when we asked them to go do something, there wasn't a lot of arguing, a lot of complaining.

"They understood what we wanted them to do, and they went and did it. So, by having that year under our belt and them realizing this is how we train, this is the way we're going to do it, there wasn't a lot of deviation from it.

"Every day is going to be a work day; go in and embrace that and realize every day you come in here is going to be tough. This year was night and day from a year ago, even to the point of guys policing guys. They're taking more ownership, control, accountability to their team, and it made it easier on us (the strength staff).

"Now, if somebody did happen to complain a little bit, another player took over, took charge of that - which means we don't have to as much. Not that we don't; we're still there for it, but there were times when we're running a guy might try to pull out of a run or start dipping his head. Well, we had other players pick him back up and make him run. That was a big difference."


 

 

The encouragement shows in the Herd's strength and conditioning numbers compared to a year ago, only months after Sinclair was hired from UCF, where he was an assistant for nine years. In three measurements the Herd uses in testing - 300-pound power clean, 400-pound bench press and 455-pound squat - Holliday's team turned in better numbers in daily performance or in testing.

There were special efforts, too. For example, redshirt senior cornerback Darryl "Swagg" Roberts had 22 repetitions in the pro bench, which is number of times lifting 225.

For strength and conditioning work, Marshall divides the team into three segments - offensive line/defensive line, linebacker/tight end/fullback, and skill positions. Roberts' 22 tied 2012 safety Okechukwu Okoroha's Marshall pro bench record for skill players.

"That's an astounding number," Sinclair said. "That's almost an offensive line number. For example, (tackle) Clint Van Horn did 28. Swagg weighs 181. Clint's more than 100 pounds heavier.

"He had a really good summer, too. He improved all of his lifts; he was a little beat up after spring ball, but he's done a really good job getting his strength back - 430 bench, 455 squat. That's not a huge squat for an offensive lineman, but the fact he had some hip issues and was really tight in there, that's very good. The big number that stands out for Clint is that 28 in the 225 pro bench."

Sinclair always prefers the team approach, and that's what he got during the summer sessions.

"The progress from last year is easily seen in the testing numbers," he said. "A good example is last year if we told all of our skill guys, `Hey, you need to be able to squat 400 pounds.' That's four plates on the bar. When we said that, they'd look at us like we were crazy.

"`No, you can't do that. No way, it's going to hurt my back.' This year, they embraced that and they were wanting to do more than 400, and they realized they could do it. To me, that was a good example of the progress we made in here.

"Now, they were attacking the weight, attacking the exercises, knowing they were going to get better from it, and they weren't scared of it. I think last year they were a little timid at some things. Last year, they didn't think they could do four plates. This year, it was, `Let me try a little bit more.'"

Sinclair also said the within-the-team competition was enhanced, too.

"There was one day we were doing a particular exercise in here and for the last set, I said, `You at least have to have such-and-such weight on,'" Sinclair said. "And we'd look over and one guy puts that weight on, then puts a 10-pound plate on top. And the next guy sees that, so he puts a 10 and a 5. And the next guy sees it and he puts a 25 on there.

"Long story short, when the set finally started, we probably had guys 65-85 pounds more than what we asked because they were competing with one another, and they didn't want to get outdone. And I don't know that you can teach that. It's just got be in them to want to do that, and I think we made progress in that aspect."

The Herd's summer program continued to embrace the "fourth-quarter" attitude that aided Marshall greatly during its 10-4 season in 2013, when MU's late-game verve was at times visibly superior to that of an opponent.

"Every day we come in here we tell them we're training to win a championship," Sinclair said. "We don't just come in to go through the motions. We put quotes up every day on the boards here about why you need to train. How good do you want to be? Well, it starts in here.

"When they walk through the doors, they come in here to attack the day, do everything you can to get better. Put the work in every day. We call it `the fourth quarter.' You blow a whistle and put four fingers up and it's fourth quarter-time and that's what we're going to do to finish a workout, because that's what's going to help us, I believe, to win in the fourth quarter because when (the opponent) is getting tired, we're just getting started."

Sinclair also mentioned tight end-to-running back Devon Johnson, with a 455 squat, 380 bench and 320 power clean. Redshirt freshman tight end Deon-Tay McManus "is 220 body weight but yet he squatted 540," Sinclair said. "Those are strong legs."

So, who's the strongest among the Herd? Depends on how you look at the testing numbers.

Defensive tackle James Rouse benched 480. Offensive tackle Sebastian "Swede" Johansson did a squat of 565. Linebacker Jermaine Holmes' power clean of 370 is a Herd record, and his total in the three lifts of 1,325 pounds was the team best.

Offensive guard Blake Brooks led the pro bench with 31 repetitions, one more than Rouse. Then, pound-for-pound, there's another measurement that says perhaps a 5-foot-9, 177-pound sophomore is the team's big lifter.

Safety Tiquan Lang was the only Herd player to top 6.0 in strength index, which is measured by adding the three aforementioned lifts and dividing by the player's weight. Lang did a 6.05, with slot receiver Deandre Reaves second at 5.97.

Linebacker D.J. Hunter's 40-inch effort - a half-inch shorter than last year -- was the team's best vertical, by four inches over Roberts. The top broad (long) jump surprised Sinclair too. It belonged to redshirt freshman running back Brandon Byrd, at 10 feet, 6 inches - 1 inch longer than Roberts.

"Byrd is 6 feet, 197," Sinclair said. "He's big to do a 10-6. That's a very good number. His vertical of 34.5 was one of the best (fourth), too."

Sinclair and his staff update a records board on a Pruett Training Center wall that lists the top five in Marshall history in the various disciplines at each of the three positional categories. In all, the current Herd posted 14 top-five efforts this summer.

Sinclair hopes all of the numbers will be enhanced in the future, too, thanks to new weight room equipment. Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said the $60,000 expenditure was covered by a targeted Vision Campaign contribution.

"We were able to add eight brand new Sorinex racks as well as eight new Inlaid Platforms, and new bumper plates and bars, too," the Herd head strength coach said. "That's helped us to be able to train more as a team, per se.

"We can have a group of 35-40 guys in there training at one time, three guys to a rack, everyone doing same exercise and obviously the weights are changing, but they're in there with the other guys. It's all that competing I talked about earlier. All those guys are confined to that one space and they're seeing Bob over here doing 225 and he's only doing 185, so forget that, I'm going to try and catch him.

"It's helped us from an environment standpoint, continuing the create a competitive atmosphere and continue that whole team deal, seeing one another sweat, and they're encouraging one another and slapping one another and pushing one another.

"I think that's what you want. We've been able to get more out of our workouts just from the fact we can train 10 more extra guys in here and we don't have to move all the way around the room. We've got everything we need right there. I can't thank Mr. Hamrick enough for giving us the opportunity to get some of those things."

The Pruett Training Center also soon will be the home of the Herd's new nutrition enhancement area that will allow student-athletes to get more food under new NCAA guidelines for nutrition in off hours.

Hamrick said the additional food will be available in the weight room to all Herd student-athletes, and not just a football perk.

"That's going to help us big-time," Sinclair said. "Your body is like a car. You don't put the right fuel in it, we can do all we want in here, but it's a waste of time. You can't drive to Florida on a half-tank of gas. This nutrition center will allow them to come up here get something to eat.

"So, we'll have the peanut butter-and-jellies and pretzels and bananas and we'll be able to provide that, as well as the shakes and the (power) bars. It will be a place they can come right before or after a workout, or during the day, and get something to eat and continue to fuel that body. That's a missing piece of the puzzle sometimes. You lift and you run and you don't eat right. It will be nice to have as well."

A look at the Herd's top efforts in summer conditioning testing:

BENCH
James Rouse, DT480 pounds
Blake Brooks, OG470
Clint Van Horn, OT430
Chris Jasperse, C420
Gary Thompson, DE420
SQUAT
Sebastian Johansson, OT565 pounds
Cortez Carter, LB560
Ryan Riedel, DL550
Jermaine Holmes, LB550
Deon-Tay McManus, TE540
POWER CLEAN
Jermaine Holmes, LB370 pounds
D.J. Hunter, LB350
Raheem Waiters, LB350
Sebastian Johansson, OT335
Stefan Houston, LB330
TOTAL (3 LIFTS)
Jermaine Holmes, LB1,325 pounds
Sebastian Johansson, OT1,305
Cortez Carter, LB1,265
Chris Jasperse, C1,255
Ryan Riedel, DL1,255
PRO BENCH (reps at 225)
Blake Brooks, OG31
James Rouse, DT30
Clint Van Horn, OT28
Jermaine Holmes, LB26
Sebastian Johansson, OT25
STRENGTH INDEX
(Bench, squat, power clean total, divided by player's weight)
Tiquan Lang, S6.05
Deandre Reaves, WR5.97
Jermaine Holmes, LB5.81
Darryl Roberts, CB5.80
Josh Knight, WR5.76
VERTICAL JUMP (inches)
D.J. Hunter, LB40.0
Darryl Roberts, CB36.0
Davonte Allen, WR35.5
Brandon Byrd, RB34.5
Taj Letman, S34.0
BROAD JUMP (feet-inches)
Brandon Byrd, RB10-6
Darryl Roberts, CB10-5 1/2
Josh Knight, WR10-3
D.J. Hunter, LB10-2 1/2
Davonte Allen, WR10-2
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