BYU football aiming for better results from strength and conditioning program
Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
In mid-December, BYU football coach Kalani Sitake parted ways with head strength and conditioning coach Nu’u Tafisi, who arrived with Sitake in Provo in 2016.
As part of preparing for the huge challenge of the Big 12, the football strength and conditioning program is still being overhauled.
“We need a change,” Sitake said at the time. “We’re looking at a different direction of what we are doing with our players in the weight room. Also, with what we know about sports science in the training room, we are trying to bridge that together from our training room to our weight room.”
Few details are forthcoming during spring football, but the Cougars hired Skyler Mayne and Colbey Clawson as sports scientists last spring and they are an integral part of the reorganization. Kalani Simeona, Spencer Reid and Dalton Elliott are listed on the athletic department directory as football strength and conditioning coaches as well.
When asked about the changes last week, Sitake said: “I think that’s probably a tough question to answer in a short amount of time other than we’re looking at ways to be innovative and be up with the times but also knowing that that a lot of things can transfer over to the football field. The weight room is just part of it. I think there’s quite a bit that goes into deliberate training, specialized training and getting our guys so that they can get some some PR marks but also make sure that it carries over to the field. There’s no point being as strong as you can if you can’t do it and utilize it on the field.”
Injuries are part of college football, but it seems that BYU has suffered more than it’s share of key ones over the past several years. Due to injuries last season, the Cougars started 42 different players by the first week of November, the third-most in the country. The balance between preventing injuries and being prepared for the grind of a college season is critical for a football team.
“I think we’re working smarter,” BYU defensive tackle John Nelson said. “Obviously, you want to be a strong football player, but it got to the point where we would do too much and guys would get injured. Now we’ve put emphasis on when we’ve reached a certain strength level and now we’re working smarter and getting faster. That’s the difference between the NFL and college is that everyone is strong in college but the NFL players are strong and fast and athletic. So we’re trying to emulate that in our training.”
Nelson, who played defensive end last season at 275 pounds, is attempting to bulk up for his new position which requires both strength and conditioning work as well as nutrition changes.
“Obviously, there is the gaining weight factor and I’ve had a schedule about that with weigh-ins and getting into a routine,” Nelson said. “It’s harder than it looks with all the workouts we’re doing but I’m just getting used to guys hitting me more when I’m in the middle (of the defensive line). There’s a little bit of a learning curve with that as opposed to playing the end like I did last year, but it’s been good so far. I’m probably back to (the weight) I started at last season. Now that I’m playing tackle, I still have a ways to go but not too far.”