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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats whipped into shape

    Arizona strength and conditioning coaches Mark Hill (left) and Corey Edmond (right) motivate junior linebacker Dane Krogstad yesterday after practice. Krogstad said the work he has put in with the two has translated onto the field.
    Arizona strength and conditioning coaches Mark Hill (left) and Corey Edmond (right) motivate junior linebacker Dane Krogstad yesterday after practice. Krogstad said the work he has put in with the two has translated onto the field.

    When Corey Edmond and Mark Hill first arrived in McKale Center’s weight room in January 2004, they brought trash cans with them.

    That’s right, the newly appointed strength and conditioning coaches strategically placed waste buckets around the weight room, “”and people were using them, too,”” said linebacker Dane Krogstad, one of a few members still on the team who witnessed first-hand the transition between coaching regimes.

    “”I don’t know the whole story,”” said linebacker Spencer Larsen, who was away on a Mormon mission at the time, “”but they brought in trash cans and they were like, ‘I guarantee every one of you guys is going to throw up.'””

    Well, there are two sides to every story.

    “”It wasn’t a guarantee,”” said Hill, Arizona’s associate director of performance enhancement. “”There was a change in the program, so we thought it would be kind of hard with the pace that we go. You just better be safe than sorry and get the trash can out there if you don’t want to get anything on the floor.””

    When UA head coach Mike Stoops took over the struggling Arizona football program in late 2003, everything changed: personnel, coaching staff, style of play – everything. And with that change came a need to develop the team’s talent in a different way.

    “”To be able to deal with the type of style of play that we wanted to, we had to train guys in the weight room to be able to – bodywise – handle his style of play,”” said Edmond, the team’s director of performance enhancement, who looks like he could double as an army drill instructor with his swagger and his shaved head.

    Despite inheriting a program that, by some accounts, struggled when it came to work ethic, Edmond, who along with Hill worked in a similar capacity under Stoops at Oklahoma, didn’t come to Tucson with any preconceived notions.

    “”Everybody asks you, ‘Was it what you expected, or was it not what you expected?'”” he said. “”I expected to go in and help guys compete for championships. That’s it. Get them where they need to be. That’s it.

    “”People are going to say, ‘Well, did you expect these guys to be bad?’ No. These guys were good at what they did. We just gave them the direction of where we wanted to go and how that fits in with what Mike does on the field.””

    Starting with that first day in 2004 – “”It was just a regular day of work for me,”” Edmond said – Arizona’s offseason, preseason and in-season training regimen had a new focus: speed.

    “”If we get speed, we can build on everything else,”” Hill said. “”Strength? Strength will come with the right weightlifting. Everybody pretty much does the same thing as far as lifting. But our speed work is the basis of what we do.””

    Said Krogstad of his newfound rapid rate: “”It’s big, and I think it’s translated on the field. I know our defense – you can see people are flying around.””

    But it’s not just about speed. It is, according to Edmond, the ability to “”play for four quarters.””

    “”The thing about it is – I mean (speed) is overrated,”” he said. “”You say you can make a team faster. What you want to do is have a team that’s able to compete in the fourth quarter. If you’ve got a guy that (runs a) 4.3 (40 time) and is out of shape, he isn’t going to play too hard in the fourth quarter. If you’ve got a guy who’s 4.7 and he can play 4.7 for 60 snaps, you’ve got a pretty darn good ballplayer. And that’s what we’re trying to develop.””

    It’s something they’ve been doing for nearly three years now, beginning with the incoming freshman class in 2004 and continuing with this year’s bunch of fresh faces.

    Krogstad, who redshirted in 2003, said the summer before his freshman year, “”there was probably a handful of people, maybe 12 to 15 people,”” participating in offseason summer workouts. The past two summers, every single player has participated.

    It’s a fact that becomes all the more important considering that the offseason workouts are often the most intense – and widely considered the most important – workouts than any the players will experience throughout the year.

    “”That’s the majority of the time we have,”” Hill said. “”We can go four days a week. We work for about an hour and a half, an hour and 15 minutes.””

    Said a smiling Larsen: “”He likes to say it’s only an hour and 15 minutes at the most, but that’s – there’s no chance. You’re here normally two hours.””

    Starting with those summer days spent in the weight room, the players began to notice a difference in their body and then their play on the field under Edmond and Hill.

    When quarterback Willie Tuitama first reported last summer as a freshman, he said he was a lean 202 pounds. Since then, Tuitama has packed on 20 more.

    “”That’s just them going to work on me,”” Tuitama said, “”just letting me do all the weights so I can get bigger.””

    After returning from his mission last year – and coupled with a knee injury suffered in the spring – Larsen never got the chance to work with Edmond and Hill before the start of the season.

    But now, with an entire offseason spent conditioning under his belt, Larsen said there’s no comparison between this season and the last.

    “”Every game, I was just trying to make it through the next play,”” he said. “”And now … I hardly ever get to the point that I was at last year – never.””

    With results like Larsen’s, it’s hard to reason why someone wouldn’t stay in the offseason program. And Edmond couldn’t even begin tell you why they wouldn’t. But why they would? That’s a different story.

    “”It’s for them. It’s expected,”” he said. “”If you expect to win, if you expect to compete for a championship, if you want to be in the Rose Bowl, if you want to be playing in the BCS games, this is what those teams do. They work all year around, period.

    “”So it wasn’t a hard sell,”” Edmond continued. “”If you want to win, you’ve got to put it in here. And what you put in here, you’ll see it out there.””

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