As I'm sure most of you have heard by now, the departure of Thomas Brown to greener coaching pastures has opened up a vacancy on the S&C staff that was recently (although not totally officially) filled by Sherman Armstrong, a coordinator of V.A.S.T. Sports Performance in Tampa. Now, in the interest of not jumping the gun too much, I don't want to focus on Sherman Armstrong too much, but what his being a "highly favored" candidate to the staff means in the overall mindset of the offseason.
Armstrong, who has worked with loads of NFL and college talent, including one Aaron Murray, is a former sprinter. In the above linked interview with Gentry Estes of Dawgs247, Armstrong said this about his role with the team:
"My primary role is to help our athletes get faster, loosen their hips up and pretty much improve the team's overall speed at every position. That's the No. 1 goal. And then to also assist Coach T and the staff in helping our athletes develop strength."
So what does UGA's interest in Armstrong mean regarding the overall plan for the Dawgs this offseason? Details after the jump.
As our friends over at the Georgia Sports Blog noted, the human body is at least moderately complex. Last season, there was a renewed focus on "good weight." Meaning we hired a nutritionist to help the athletes with their diet, and the main idea was to build the bodies up to withstand the rigors of the season. Being strong doesn't necessarily mean being big. There was an increased emphasis on toughness and stamina. You'll notice the significant cut down on ACL injuries last year, as well as nagging hamstrings that would normally sideline guys on our two-deep for weeks at a time in previous seasons. Some of that can be attributed to toughness of the bodies. Some of it is attributed to building the bodies correctly from the get-go.
Last year, the only major injuries that I can remember off the top of my head were concussion like symptoms, which are what the kids refer to as "no joke" injuries. Those things are serious and should be taken as such. When a guy gets his bell rung, it's because he has AN INJURY TO HIS BRAIN. That's something worthy of attention from a rehabilitation standpoint.
But to see the great decrease in guys down on the field and being out for 4-6 weeks at a time was a wonderful thing. In order to build quality depth, you have to have...wait for it...actual healthy bodies. It's a novel concept, and for those that bemoaned the hire of Joe T as the new S&C Coordinator, I think he executed it as well as he could.
The interest in Armstrong relates to his expertise in speed, looseness (aka flexibility), and quickness. The ability to take or give the hit is what we focused on last year. This year, we're building upon that and teaching our guys to be in front of the block coming their way, or anticipate the hit coming and wiggle out of it. For our depleted cornerback roster, it's about making adjustments more quickly to create more turnovers. For the QBs, it's better footwork and movement inside the pocket. Regarding the offensive line, it's the idea of picking up the blitz faster through better lateral movement.
This is what they call "the next phase." You can't do everything in one year and the fact that we focused so much on getting our players' bodies ready to play the game is a testament to how far behind we were after the 2010 season. Now that we're seemingly back on the right track, it's time to train those new bodies and get the most out of them.
Time will tell if Armstrong is actually "the guy" that UGA wants and will hire, since nothing is official yet. However, just the fact that he's getting a look is a pretty big deal, in my opinion. It shows we're making adjustments to grow the S&C program back to what it was before it fell apart. We need big bodies that move QUICK. As PWD noted, it's not about making the guys run faster, it's about them playing faster. That's what separates the SEC from everyone else, and it's also what separates the elite in the SEC (LSU, Alabama, Vanderbilt**) from those who are merely good.
It'll take a minute or two to see if this mindset produces any on-field results. However, I can't see where a tougher, quicker team from head to toe can hurt. In related news, the B1G thinks that S&C is a joke and the only reason SEC athletes are faster is because they're not as smart. In other words, the B1G still sucks and is still slow (/troll'd).
What do you guys think? Do you like the direction the S&C program is taking, or should they be focusing on something else?
**James Franklin is a "man of honor" and swears this is how men of honor play.