About a week out from the opening of Utah State's new multi-million dollar weight room, Dave Scholz is getting antsy.
The Aggies first-year strength and conditioning coach is doing fine at the moment with what he has. The football team is working hard as football season inches closer. But the new facility offers a new realm of possibility.
"It's exciting to think what that space is going to allow us to do, and the technology that will be there," Scholz said. "It's going to allow us to teach more effectively, and do a lot of things."
Scholz is back in the program after two years in the NFL, and he's already been spending the offseason making sure the Aggies aren't regressing physically after an 11-2 season. He takes a lot of influence from former strength coach Evan Simon, but has tweaked a few things.
One of his big points of emphasis? Full range of motion in every exercise. Scholz, who oversees summer workouts when other coaches aren't permitted to have contact with players, is a stickler for form and flexibility. Using a full range of motion, he said, helps build joint integrity and prevent injuries.
Senior center Tyler Larsen has spent plenty of time in the weight room over the years, but since Scholz directed him to do more daily stretching, he's realized he was a bit more stiff than he previously thought.
"If you don't have the right form, he's going to let you know, and everyone else will know, too," Larsen said. "My flexibility has been the biggest thing, and I do it for squatting, benching, every exercise now."
Scholz worked hand-in-hand with the coaching staff developing the offseason regimen and determining what he needed to do for each position group. He knew Matt Wells in his previous tenure in Logan, and the two have a good relationship.
"He trusts me implicitly to get these kids from prep to play," Scholz said. "He wants to maintain the discipline and hard-working culture that has been established here. I learned a long time ago that when you're the strength coach in college, you're basically the face of the program in the summer. So I know that he's counting on me to get these guys ready."
In the new Strength and Conditioning Center, there will be more space, more equipment, and more options. Scholz is keeping a mental list of the goodies he'll have on hand: ICON fitness equipment, Eleiko barbells, Watson dumbbells. The tools he'll have, he said, are on par with what he used with the San Francisco 49ers each of the past two seasons.
One of the things he's most excited about are specialized thicker grips for just about every weight. It provides an extra challenge for the Aggies that could pay off big.
"I'm a big believer in training with thick-handled implements, because if you look at every study, they tell you it builds strength faster," he said. "If you're going to grapple, you need strength in your hands and arms. It translates to the field a lot better when you have that kind of training."
The players are excited, too - even if that means some sore days ahead.
"I feel bad for the freshmen just getting here," Larsen said. "They'll learn the hard way, but it's for the best."
— Kyle Goon