Hawkeyes gaining strength at a very fast rate

April 7, 2008

Coach Doyle talks about off-season S&C progress

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Last season the University of Iowa had 31 first-year student-athletes see game action. The most recent spring depth chart lists the names of 28 redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep roster.

Although still a youthful lot, it is a group that has spent the bulk of its off-season becoming stronger and more powerful.

“Our guys made a lot of progress from a strength perspective,” UI strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle said. “The intensity was excellent, the attitude and effort was great out of the guys and I’m really excited about moving into the next phase which is spring ball.”

Doyle said the emphasis during spring ball is to “ramp up the conditioning” and then during a three-week span after the spring game, the Hawkeyes will work on gaining peak speed. During the summer months, the emphasis will switch again, this time to focus on peak conditioning.

“You go through the fall phase and you have a lot of your developmental guys that are red-shirting and they work real hard,” Doyle said. “It’s a long time before they have a chance to compete again. Then it’s another two months of winter training before they get to spring. It’s highly anticipated. You see them get bigger and gain body weight. You see them get stronger and more powerful. You see them moving better and it’s just so exciting seeing it translate onto the field and see how much they progress on the field because that’s really what it’s all about.”

The bigger, faster, more powerful Hawkeyes flexed Sunday afternoon during several controlled scrimmage situations. The players were excited and up-beat.

“It’s on-field performance that matters and now we have a chance to rate our progress on the field when it counts,” Doyle said.

Iowa returns 15 starters (including punter Ryan Donahue and kicker Daniel Murray) and 52 letterwinners from a team that finished 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten Conference in 2007. The Hawkeyes were bowl-eligible for the seventh consecutive season after winning four of their final five league games against Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern and Minnesota.

“The biggest gains we saw this year — you know we had 31 freshmen play for us (in 2007),” Doyle said. “Those are young guys. At this stage in their career they should be gaining strength at a very fast rate and they are. It’s exciting to be around a group like that because that’s 30 percent of our team. That’s one out of three guys with three years of eligibility left.”

While Doyle and his staff are putting the Hawkeye student-athletes through the paces, they are also working to remain as pioneers of the strength and conditioning profession.

“We’re constantly evolving,” Doyle said. “It’s our job to stay cutting edge. It’s really important to maintain a beginner’s mind and be cutting edge with the training that’s available.”

Iowa will hold its annual open-to-the public spring practice on Saturday, April 19, beginning at 1 p.m. The season-opener will be Saturday, Aug. 30, against Maine inside Kinnick Stadium.

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