March 3, 2011

Dawgs adapting to changes

Change has been the optimal word for members of the Georgia football team since returning from Memphis and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

From strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski's max-driven program to a newly mandated nutrition plan that requires each player to eat three square meals a day at the team's training facility, there's been a lot for players like wide receiver Tavarres King to get used to.

"The workouts are high energy. We didn't do mat drills this year because the workouts now have kind of limited that. Every day is a mat drill. Every day you're working hard and very day you're putting your mind to the test as well," King said. "We're eating three meals a day and they're monitoring everything we eat. Pictures are being taken of what you eat and if they don't like what you eat, you've got to throw that away and get something a little healthier."

King isn't kidding about the pictures.

Prior to eating, training room assistants will take pictures of each and every meal the players eat for approval by Tereshinski, nutritionist Rex Bradberry or strength assistant Thomas Brown.

If a meal isn't approved, the players must get something that is.

"I think it's a good thing," senior cornerback Brandon Boykin said. "They measure our body fat, measure our weight each and every day so I think it's important to know what we're eating."

Fried foods are not pretty much off the menu.

"I think the first week people didn't know what to expect," Boykin said. "But now, you might be away by yourself and have a chance to eat at McDonalds but you don't because you're dedicated to your body and I think people are really buying into it."

That's music to Mark Richt's ears.

In previous years, Bulldogs who lived off campus were allowed to use their stipend for food to basically buy whatever they wanted to eat. Richt now says that was a mistake.

"We're doing a better job of making sure that everybody's eating and eating all their meals. We had allowed some of the guys off campus to use their meal money and to eat on their own," Richt said. "In hindsight, I don't think that was a good idea. We needed to immediately put everybody back on the meal plan and we've got people there for every meal, seeing what they're eating and eating the right thing."

Linebacker Christian Robinson said he quickly noticed a change when he cut fried foods out of his diet.

"I couldn't even make it through workouts (after eating fried foods)," Robinson said. "But I started changing my food habits and I'm actually up to 230; that's the biggest I've been here."

Sweets are frowned upon as well.

"I'm at 2.3 percent body fat. A lot of people say that's not healthy, but I'm having what's recommended to eat," Boykin said. "I've cut out the sweet stuff and just getting good calories. If I want something sweet I might get me a strawberry smoothie or something. But as far as sweets I cut that out."

Tereshinski's program is apparently having quite the impact as well.

Robinson laughed that he heard the war stories when Tereshinski took over the strength and conditioning program. But after seeing a change as far as his own personal numbers go, count the junior as a believer in what's being done.

"I think when we get off the bus people will notice a big difference, how big we're going to look. Just looking at some of the guys who have struggled to get bigger and to get stronger, I know every two weeks we're maxing out," Robinson said. "I'm increasing my squats. I squatted over 500 pounds for the first time ever and I could barely do 325 like 10 times at the beginning of the workout. The way Coach T has really pushed us has helped us to get stronger and expand the boundaries for ourselves."

Richt said he's been nothing but pleased with what he's seen thus far.

"It's (the program) a little bit different. There's a higher repetition situation, say like instead three sets of eight it might be one set of as many as you can get basically until you max out at a certain level that Coach (Tereshinski) is looking for," Richt said. "There's a little more endurance training, and of course there's a lot of running involved, a lot of change in direction stuff."

But ultimately, the question everybody wants to know is what kind of results will the new programs produce on the field?

King is convinced the difference will be a noticeable one.

"With some of these workouts, I think we'll definitely be a stronger fourth-quarter team. Last year we really couldn't finish in the fourth quarter and I feel like these workouts will eliminate those fourth-quarter struggles," King said. "I definitely think they will benefit us for endurance, no question."

At least that's the hope.

When asked specifically whether he thought the Bulldogs were not in shape for the full four quarters, King admitted that was likely the case.

"I guess that goes back to what I said about the fourth quarter. Maybe we were (in shape), maybe we just couldn't take a few shot to the mouth in the fourth quarter and fight back," King said. "But I think these workouts are doing something to us physically by giving our body endurance as well as mentally."

Although King said everybody is on page with the program, it wasn't always that way.

"Some people have issues just getting adjusted. I think a lot of it has to do with maybe some old guys being used to doing things a certain way and some of the new guys finally getting used to working. But everybody has finally come together and realize they've got to buckle down," King said. "I've seen a lot of changes just with the personality of our weight room; it's very business-like. Nothing against the old way that we did things, but we need to be disciplined right now and we needed some changes in the way we behaved."

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