Football

Have Matt Wells and David Scholz Also Found the Secret in the Dirt?

Offseason gainzzzz!

Yesterday evening, while I was at a soccer and basketball game for Youssouf (no goals at the soccer game, but he did score 14 of his team’s 16 points for a win over the best team in the league), head strength and conditioning coach David Scholz posted a handful of before and after pictures (and posted tight end Donta Thompson and inside receiver McLane Mannix this morning), from January of this year through July, so about 6 months worth of off-season work. One of the refrains from the other absolutely incredible strength and conditioning coaches, men’s basketball’s John Reilly continually preaches that the “secret is in the dirt”. The hard work you put in, you then get it back, but it only starts with hard work.

During the off-season, I heard some rumblings that Scholz changed lots of things, including what players eat. No more nacho buffet, but grilled chicken and vegetables (I don’t really know if there was a nacho buffet, but that’s a placeholder for a less than healthy option and the same with grilled chicken and vegetables, a placeholder for a healthy alternative) and players were somewhat limited on the amount of food they were given. No more free-for-all’s.

I am almost positive even here on STP that we discussed the benefits of something like this, being more restrictive. Would it run off other players? We all thought that Texas Tech had a solid strength and conditioning program previously (and I think it was solid) under Kingsbury, so how much room for improvement was there really to take place?

In my post-Big 12 Media Days recap, my first quote was, in part, about the strength and conditioning that Wells very much believes in as he brought Scholz from Utah State:

The biggest key for us in year one is instilling our culture, building our foundation, and we always talk about it at Tech and at Lubbock, what we do and how we do it. What we do on offense, what we do on defense, our weight room, strength and conditioning with a major emphasis in nutrition, class, academics, all that stuff, but the key is to the “how” and that’s the biggest thing for us in year one is establishing the “how” the physicalness, the toughness, the discipline, mental and physical, and a lot of people say that’s culture. That’s exactly what it is, but instilling the culture and the foundation.

And Wells was asked about whether or not the success of Chris Beard and Tim Tadlock get him worried, and the answer is no, it does not, it reaffirms and inspires his thought that strength and nutrition play a huge role in the success of a program:

I think more than anything it’s inspired me to see that it’s done and done the right way. Chris Beard coaches those guys like a bunch of football players. They’re tough. The emphasis on strength and conditioning and nutrition is similar to what we do. I think it’s inspired me. It confirms to me the culture that we have at Texas Tech that Kirby Hocutt has created and the whole athletic department I think is inspirational.

InsideTheRedRaiders’ Jarrett Johnson asked the players at the Big 12 Media Days about the strength and conditioning and defensive tackle Broderick Washington was over-flowing in his praise, some of which you doubted (understandably so) the sincerity of his comments:

It’s the best strength staff I’ve done had. It’s just his plan and the way he does things is… it’s really amazing, honestly. Everything he does translates to football and helps us be a better athlete. We eat way cleaner now. Guys are gaining wait finally. That’s been a problem, too. Size has always been a problem for us, because we’ve always been smaller than other guys, but walking around media day we look bigger than OU, we look bigger than TCU… we look bigger than those guys now. So, now it’s not a size difference anymore. You can’t say, ‘oh, they lost because they’re smaller’ or something like that, but Coach Scholz has a great plan and it works.

This is typically off-season talk, right? Just being nice to the strength and conditioning coaches who are here?

Here’s Travis Bruffy on Scholz:

Everything we do is calculated. Everything we do is very precise. Every workout has a specific designated outcome. It’s not just, ‘hey, let’s burn you out’. ‘m not saying that is what it was before, but it’s not just to smoke you out or anything. It’s more like ‘I want you to have a stronger pectoral muscle at the end of this workout’ and all these exercises are going to support your back and build around your auxiliary muscles as well as the main muscles he’s attacking. That’s the same with conditioning. Not everything is just to gas you out. Offensive linemen have a different conditioning need than defensive linemen or defensive backs and his approach to that–I can’t give too many details and give away his secrets–but it really is, everything is intentional. On the nutritional side of things, he’s brought a lot of nutritional knowledge to our program. Watching all of our bodies change with a lot of before and after pictures as well and they speak for themselves.

Go to the article to hear from Douglas Coleman III, Jordyn Brooks and Wells.

So, the results?

And don’t just look at the upper body, but the lower body and the legs, that base is a lot bigger than it was just 6 months ago and these guys are just thicker. Looking at Washington and Brooks, that was end-of-season body, so probably a bit drained, but these guys are still lifting through the season so they maintain those gains and that’s just a bigger, thicker, stronger body.

I should add that the title to the post asks if Wells and Scholz have found the secret, but based on looking at old photos from Scholz and his past history of improving player bodies, I think he probably knew the secret anyway.

I’m not here to declare success or victory. “Off-season gains” are one of those cliched comments that fans make about overall team improvement. I get that I’m “going there” and that’s fine, but the pictures do say something about where these players were just 6 months ago and the difference is pretty significant. Or maybe it’s just significant to me. Maybe this is a pretty typical off-season progression. I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t seem that way.

Regardless, we’ll find out in a month and a half.

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