April 10, 2012

'We will work together'

Joe Tereshinski admits it - he's about as old school as it comes in regards to strength and conditioning.

But that doesn't mean he's not willing to learn a few new tricks.

At least that was the message Tuesday, when Tereshinski, along with new hires, John Thomas and Sherman Armstrong met with the media for 30 minutes at the Butts-Mehre Building to discuss the Bulldogs' strength and conditioning program.

"I'm a strength-endurance guy, I believe in a strong four quarters, I believe in a stronger team in the fourth quarter mentality to where we train, and every day's tough, every day's hard, but there are days when it can back off, but I'm not good at that," the ever-intense Tereshinski said. "However, there are days when you can concentrate on speed, quickness and speed development, along with hand placement, hand movement, foot placement, body position and the drills to go with it. Georgia is better off having someone who can teach those ideas to me, share them with John (Thomas) and the three of us will work together from here on out to come up with a plan for our players to follow."

Here's what Tereshinski has in mind.

Instead of focusing entirely on strength and endurance, Tereshinski said the Bulldogs will train under a three-day lifting cycle, with two days dedicated entirely to speed and quickness.

"If you can't get from Point A to Point B and get there it doesn't matter so we're going to concentrate on speed and quickness, but at the same token keep working to developing out strength," Tereshinski, adding that in Armstrong, he's definitely got the right man for the job.

A graduate of Illinois, Armstrong is a four-time All-American and two-time Olympic Trials finalist for the 400 meter, where he still holds the Big Ten record in that regard.

Prior to coming to Georgia, Armstrong's program at VAST (Velocity, Agility, Speed Technique) Sports Performance in Tampa, Fla. trained a number of professional and collegiate athletes, including Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray for a month last May.

"There are many ways to improve speed and with every athlete I've been in front of there's always something they're doing wrong. As a professional, doing what I do, it's my job to find it," Armstrong said. "Over the years, through running professionally and competing professionally, I've been able to pick up and nitpick every little detail an athlete may be doing wrong to help them improve. So it can be improved, running mechanics and the more technically sound you are it will have a huge effect on performance."

During his tenure at VAST, Armstrong also served as NFL Combine Prep head speed coach, NFL Veterans Off-season training head speed coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach at Performance Gaines (2008-2010).

So far, Armstrong said he's been impressed with what he's seen from the players he's got to work with at Georgia.

"They really do want to get better. They've already seen increases in strength so now it's what else can I do to get better, and that's kind of the mentality I get from the athletes," he said. "They ask me, they question me, what we are going to do. They're really hungry to step into workouts with myself and improve themselves."

In Thomas, who served as the strength and conditioning director at Penn State before becoming the Sr. Associate Director of Strength and Conditioning at Georgia, the Bulldogs gain a coach whose high-intensity regiment is similar to that of Tereshinski.

"It was a combination of my core of beliefs and what Coach (Joe) Paterno wanted, and what the staff wanted," Thomas said. "With high intensity, my version, is we're going to use whatever apparatus, a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, heavy object, machines -whatever it is, we're going to use in a very safe, intense fashion. But there are a lot of misconceptions about high-intensity. For me it's all about trying to use the best apparatus for that athlete to use. Not everybody can do and use every exercise. You need to use the best exercise and apparatus for that athlete to get the best result."

Thomas credits Paterno for much of his personal success.

"He was fantastic. It was an honor to work for him. It was an honor to be interviewed by him and to be hired by him and work for him for 20 seasons was fantastic," Thomas said. "As far as what he did for me and my family, if I was to talk about all of that we'd be here way too long."

Still, after all the allegations surrounding former Nittany Lion assistant Jerry Sandusky, it was time for Thomas to move on.

When Tereshinski called to inquire about his interest following former assistant Keith Gray's decision to accept a job with Philadelphia Eagles, Thomas jumped at the chance.

"Yeah, it's a breath of fresh air to be at a new place, to be honest with you. I find out that the head coach that I worked for 20 years and the head coach (Mark Richt) I'm working for now, there are a lot of qualities and characteristics that are very much the same," Thomas said. "They're both great men who care about the programs they work for, the kids who they are coaching and teaching, and they care about the Universities that they are working for. Seeing that is very refreshing to me."

So far, Tereshinski likes what he sees.

"I can tell the Bulldog Nation that as a team we are stronger than we were at this time last year; I won't get into numbers but we are a year more mature," he said. "The one place where we may be a little behind, because we lost three gigantic seniors, is the offensive line. But they are not far behind and of all the different groups on our team they are the hardest working, most committed bunch. They're a pleasure to be around. Those young freshman linemen did not miss a day all last summer and the days on which we were off, they showed up, so I'm excited about getting back to work."

The Bulldogs obviously have already gotten a lot of other work in, which included the return of mat drills, which took place once a week for month shortly before spring practice began.

"It was awesome because what we did was lift on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, two days of legs, and two days of upper body. What we were looking for was a way to make our team grow in the mental toughness. You can only do so much lifting and running," said Tereshinski, explaining the reason for bringing the drills back after a one-year hiatus. "It's physically demanding to go through mat drills, but to go from drill, to drill, to drill six different, and to go at a very high, intense pace, it takes everything that you're made of - and to be able to do it four times - it's tough."

But the effort was worthwhile.

"The difference from Day 1 to Day 4 was night and day. Our kids grew," Tereshinski said. "They were able to go through a door that they have not been able to go through as a team in their mentality process to be tougher."