Strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey has seen a lot of change at the University of Miami over the last 11 years. The Hurricanes have gone from being a national championship-caliber team under Butch Davis and Larry Coker to last season's 7-6 mess under Randy Shannon.
"Right now, I would compare him to Butch -- just on discipline, structure and what he's demanding," Swasey said. "The thing I know coach is stressing, that he wants, is mentally tough guys. He wants to find out when guys are going to crack and when they aren't going to crack."
Golden has asked Swasey to implement some new rules in the team's off-season workouts programs. Among the new additions and changes:
> The addition of "The Fifth Quarter."
"It's something at the end of the workout to target intensity," Swasey said. "It starts at five minutes, but can last longer. The kids love it. It's exciting. It's a post workout. It's high intensity. It could be forearm plate raises. It can be core [training] stuff. We could be outside flipping tires, doing a hammer hit, pushing sled, pulling sleds, doing a lot of different stuff. It's something that will challenge them after they're fatigued and tired. You just did a full workout, but now we're challenging you at the end of the workout."
> The addition of "Creative Excellence." After workouts, Swasey said, players are required to work on individual position drills by themselves or with their teammates. It's a mandatory 20 minutes -- at the very least.
"The first week they were throwing up right and left," Swasey said. "I think it's a great addition. He wants guys working on their craft each day, even if they worked out early and are dead tired. He wants them working on their actual individual position drills. The thing I love he said about it was, 'Painter's paint, singers sing, you're a football player you have to work on that too.' You have to lift weights, but at the end of the day you have to be a better football player. You have to go and work on your art after the weight room."
> Also a new Golden rule according to Swasey: Breakfast is mandatory.
Before Golden, Swasey said, there was no monitoring of what players ate before coming to him. And some, he said, would skip breakfast. "They have to come check in or we check on them to make sure they ate," Swasey said. "The good thing about that is they are getting 1200 to 1500 calories prior to starting. Some kids wouldn't eat until lunch before."
> Swasey said he loves the fact Golden has pushed the start of spring practice back to March 5th. Under Shannon, the team would start spring practice in mid-February. Swasey said adding a few more weeks in the weight room "will definitely help guys get bigger and stronger."
> Another new addition Swasey likes -- what players do in the weight room will actually count toward where they start out on the depth chart in spring ball.
"He told guys `You can start, can come out of spring ball a starter depending on how you rank in the weight room, your work ethic," Swasey said. "We want tough guys, guys that will fight, guys doing everything they're supposed to do, which makes you a champion."
Swasey said he feels blessed to still be with the program. When Shannon was fired, he wasn't sure if Golden would keep him on the staff. Swasey and Micheal Barrow are the only remaining holdovers from Shannon's staff.
"I think when I got back from the bowl game [is when I found out I was going to stay]," Swasey said. "He told me to write down somethings so we can get ready for spring, some ideas. He gave me some pointers on what he wanted to target and focus on. When I heard that, I was overly excited about it.
"But the bottomline is that we were 7-6. It is what it is. Whatever happened, can't happen anymore. Whatever's going on, we have to get better. I look at everything as a whole. No matter how we got to those six losses, we came up with them. The approach coach Golden has -- and that's what I love about him -- is that whatever we did last year wasn't good enough. That's a great approach. Right now, that's the approach we're pushing and have in the weight room."
Swasey said the team, which began lifting four days a week with him (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) for an hour and a half a week ago, will not do any strength tests until a week or two before the start of spring ball. But Golden has already been handed stat sheets with players weights, strength and speed numbers -- and he's expecting improvements.
"Right now we don't have a choice but to be better than 7-6," Swasey said. "I do believe we will be. One [reason] is because of Coach Golden's plan of attack and how he's doing it. Just the cohesiveness he's building. Two, I think he has a hell of a staff. We just have to keep working. Time will tell. But we're definitely ready to be a much better football team. We have to be a lot better than 7-6."
A COUPLE OTHER QUICK NUGGETS...
> Defensive end Olsen Pierre became the second early enrollee Friday. He will start classes Monday. Pierre (6-4, 240) was a three-star recruiting according to ESPN out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.
> UM had its first baseball practice of the spring Friday. I'll have some more news and notes from coach Jim Morris and several of his players. The Canes are ranked 18th in two preseason polls and were picked to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division.