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July 25, 2011

Summer vacation--not for the football team

The Oregon State football team is just wrapping up its summer conditioning drills in Corvallis before getting a much needed break before kicking of Fall Camp on August 8. BeaverBlitz spoke to head strength and conditioning coach Bryan Miller to get his thoughts on this year's program and glean some insight into his philosophy when it comes to getting the football players ready for the season.

While the football coaches are not allowed to be present for any summer work, strength and conditioning coaches are allowed to oversee the lifting and conditioning portion of the players' voluntary workouts. The players then sometimes add on additional football work, which is on their own.

"Overall this summer has been excellent," Miller said. "I'd say the biggest difference is in the intention behind individual attendance has been excellent. Things have been good the past few years, but I think that sometimes the intentions behind the attendance were 'the team's here so I have to be here' whereas this year the individuals are taking advantage of each day."

Miller talked about how in the past the consistency wasn't there. Some weeks you'd see 100% of the team working out and then the next week 80%. This year the level has been high and consistent throughout the summer.

"The athletes are doing a better job of taking advantage of the time that they have. They come in and lift and run and then take care of their bodies and recover before coming back for football drill work," he said. "It has been a very thorough and complete program."

The time and effort put forth by Miller and his staff is extensive. Not only do they want to prepare the players for the physical rigors of the gridiron, but they also want to help the athletes be in the best possible shape to avoid injury.

They start by going back and looking at Spring Camp and in talking to the coaches figure out what everyone liked or didn't like during the Spring. Then they take a look back to the past season and evaluate the program from an injury and performance standpoint.

Lastly they take a look at what they did last summer and what areas they need to address. This summer they took things a step further and met with the team captains.

"Prior to this summer was a little unique because we met with the captains to hear what they liked and didn't like and what they thought was important for them as football players," Miller said. "We then put together a program with that input, and while they still may not 'like' everything, some of the exercises they have to do. They've come back and said that this has been the best program they've had."

A big topic this past season centered around the string of injuries and injury prevention. Miller said that he and his staff work in concert with the training staff to ensure the players are as ready for football as possible.

It is thoroughly a combination of everything including strength training and flexibility work for injury prevention. An imbalance in one muscle group can spell disaster and Miller and his staff works with the trainers to pinpoint these issues on each individual athlete to help prevent injuries down the road.

"We can't put the body through the exact stress that it will undergo during Fall Camp or a football game but we want to expose the body to the stresses that they're going to go through as best we can," he said. "By running and strength training we work to replicate the tempo, speed and intensity that they will see so that their bodies are as ready as they can be for action."

Another important aspect of summer conditioning is that it builds the foundation for the year ahead. Leaders emerge and help to instill a work ethic in the younger classes that can be carried over year to year. Miller is impressed with what he has seen.

"Lance Mitchell and Cam Collins are really leading the group," he said. "They've been playing by example for a long time, but they've become more vocal, number one and number two they've embraced the role of what they're doing."

"Offensively Ryan Katz has been doing an excellent job and has really seemed to mature as a quarterback and athlete," Miller added. "He's becoming more vocal to different groups and for different reasons."

Another group that Miller and his staff work with are the incoming freshmen. We already know that they are a competitive bunch and Miller had nothing but praise to heap upon the youngsters.

"I'd say as a group they are the best physical looking group we've had," he said. "There are some guys that look like they have great physical potential for growth and some that are already there. Malcolm Agnew looks really put together and is probably up to 195 pounds. Dylan Wynn is another guy like Malcolm, who has a big frame and definitely can add weight."

Miller said that while he only has the freshmen for three weeks in July, he's already had to accelerate the program because the guys either came in developed or simply worked so hard they were ready to advance.

"Out of this class Brandin Cooks is probably the most prepared to be a D1 wide receiver in our style of offense," Miller said. "And then there is Tyrequek Zimmerman who is a gifted athlete."

Now, many of the players prepare to head home for a week or two of rest before the grueling schedule of Fall Camp starts. Miller will be ready to continue his work with the team to help to prepare them for what lies ahead, constantly working to help each athlete improve as they all work to get 'bigger, faster, and stronger' in preparation for the upcoming season.




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