GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nick Savage, Florida football’s new director of strength and conditioning, gave his first comments on his plans for the Gators’ upcoming offseason program.
Savage, who followed new head coach Dan Mullen from Mississippi State, spoke with Gators in-house reporter Chris Harry about how he plans to implement what Mullen promised would “be something they have never even experienced in their life before, our off-season conditioning program.”
“It’s going to be black and white, with no gray area in between,” Savage said, according to Harry’s story.
“We’re going to do things the right away. If you do things the wrong way there are going to be consequences and it doesn’t matter who you are or what position you play. Everyone is equal. In January, they’ll find out very quickly that whatever their actions are they’ll be held accountable for those actions, and that includes every word that comes out of their mouths. They’re going to learn how to be grown men, not only with how they train and prepare for the season, but how they go about their daily lives inside the building and outside of it.”
As SEC Country outlined Tuesday, the foundation of Mullen’s impressive run at Mississippi State was an intense offseason strength and conditioning program that pushed his athletes further than they had previously been accustomed.
“The mental toughness he wants to instill in his players starts in the weight room,” said Tyson Lee, Mullen’s first quarterback at Mississippi State in 2009. “If I was going to talk to the University of Florida team, I would apologize in advance for how hard these next three months are going to be.”
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, who was at Mississippi State for Mullen’s first eight seasons and watched up-close the transformation of the program, also underscored the emphasis the coach puts on the offseason and how he saw that carry over to the field.
“There’s always going to be one team that’s throwing punches and there’s going to be another team that’s on their heels in about any competition you go to. You can’t always just do that by mindset, but usually the mindset has a lot to do with it. And the way they ran that offseason program, I think, really led to Mississippi State no longer being on their heels,” Stricklin told SEC Country.
While Mullen’s first strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi State, Matt Balis, left for Notre Dame, the emphasis on an intense offseason program remained a key tenet of the program.
As for Savage, he’s just 28 years old and took over as the Bulldogs’ strength and conditioning coach in December of 2015, and he is now charged with installing that same program here at Florida.
“To make sure no on misunderstands, what we’re about to do in this weight room is strictly coming from Coach Mullen,” Savage told Harry. “He has his program identity that he’s going to run. It’s my job to implement this room — to promote contenders and expose pretenders — and fit that identity. We will do that.”
So what does that mean exactly?
“Great teams are separated by attention to detail. I can promise you that attention to detail — whether that means starting [sprints] behind the line or holding a rep for three seconds, whatever — we will have attention to detail. If guys struggle to understand that, there will be consequences and discipline for those actions. There will be direction, focus, leadership and discipline. That will not change,” Savage said, according to Harry’s report.
“So as far as movement, I’m going to prepare them for the rigors of the game; first quarter, fourth quarter, skill position, line position, game atmosphere. Obviously, everything we do will be physiologically safe and orthopedically sound. We won’t do things just to do them. There will be a reason why that is backed by research and study, using proper protocol and progression, in how we’re going to prepare these guys. I will create an umbrella in our training philosophy to make sure we’re running the most comprehensive training program possible for these athletes.”