Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - January 23, 2014

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W LUCAS AT LARGE BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM 'First quarter' starts in weight room for UW 14 isconsin football strength coach Evan Simon estimated that it took a full hour just getting through the warm-up exercise last year because he wanted to "make sure the guys knew what we expected out of them and how we wanted to perform" in the weight room. It represented the first offseason workout in what was the "first quarter" under coach Gary Andersen and his handpicked staff, including Simon, who also had been at Utah State. Year 2 got underway Tuesday when the players reported for classes ― and the start of winter conditioning. "I definitely think you have a better feel. The guys know me now and I know all the returners a lot better," said Simon. "The nice part ― this being Year 2 ― is that you know what you need to maintain and what you need to work on more. "We were definitely going through stages and we passed a lot of them last year from the standpoint of the guys understanding why we do the things we do and why the differences were in place. All the veterans hit the ground running on Tuesday." The mix included seven midyear players who have enrolled for the second semester. The list was topped by four tendered freshmen: quarterback D.J. Gillins, safety Austin Hudson and offensive linemen Jaden Gault and Michael Deiter. "We'll bring the new guys along slowly," Simon said. "You get a feel for what they've done or haven't // VARSITY January 23, 2014 done (in the weight room) during the recruiting process. But I always like to get my eyes ― and our staff's eyes ― on them when they get here. "We always view what we do as an evaluation process from the warm-up exercises to the lifts. You like to listen to what they said they did in high school. But usually I don't buy too much into it until I see them here when they're in our hands on campus." Overall, the players were broken down by position into three separate lift groups: 1) defensive backs and linebackers; 2) offensive line, defensive line and specialists; 3) quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. On Mondays, there will be early conditioning (6:30 a.m.), a speed and agility emphasis and a lower body workout in the afternoon. Tuesdays will be devoted to upper body development. Wednesdays to position-specific conditioning, highlighting work capacity and recovery between plays. Thursdays will focus on heavy lower body lifts. Fridays on team challenge runs and some weight room challenges, offense vs. defense and man vs. man. "Last year we did some more general things to introduce our philosophy and our program," Simon said. "This year, there will be more specific things along the way by position and by individual to get our players to where we think they need to be." In concert with the huge graduation losses, he said, "I'm excited to see who the leaders will be. I never look at it where your seniors have to be the leaders. I think this is a great opportunity for this team to develop vocal leadership out of every class." On offense, Simon said that he would lean on tackle Rob Havenstein, tailback Melvin Gordon and quarterback Joel Stave. On defense, he singled out nose guard Warren Herring, linebacker Derek Landisch and safety Michael Caputo. "One of the guys I'm looking forward to seeing ― and he will be a leader, as well ― is Vince Biegel," said Simon, noting that Biegel, an outside linebacker, won the Badger Power Award as the top performer in the strength and conditioning program. "He's a guy who brings a lot of energy and drive." Freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton will be going through his second winter and spring conditioning cycle after being a 2013 mid-year enrollee, along with safety Keelon Brookins, who developed at a much slower rate last fall while rehabbing from injuries. "We want to put some more weight on Sojourn's frame and get him stronger," Simon said. "We want to get him up to the 180s. Worstcase scenario would be the upper 170s. "We see it as continuous slow cook process for him. You're not going to find a guy who wants it more or works harder than Sojourn. There will be a lot more comfort in knowing everything now kind of repeats itself in terms of training." That holds true for everyone in Year 2.

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