SSO’s S&C Update

Sorry for the shameless plugs this week, but if anytime you were going to donate if we could for these this week with practice updates, coaching differences, and S&C that would be great. Site fees are coming due. Sorry, on with it.

It’s no secret I adamantly hated what we were doing with S&C the last 5 years. Trying to defy physics hasn’t worked since the earth was created, and us going back to what was going on in the 90s as if there haven’t been a ton of things that have came out to improve processes and results while using mostly none of it really pissed me off.

From a 30,000 foot view, this staff basically does everything that the few coaches on Twitter I follow do. And they do a lot of the things that a couple of the programs I work with in-state do. It’s exciting. Let’s just get into a bit of what we are doing now compared to what we did before.

Some positions don’t need to squat 700 pounds”

Corey Campbell said this during a presentation, and I instantly drew wood. It was one of the things that bothered me to no end with the previous staff. We would just load the bar for squats to “increase testosterone” do it with some shitty form and tweet about how much our guys were squatting. “But some of the position groups there are more valuable things than squatting a lot. If I have a WR squatting 500 pounds I don’t want to spend too much time trying to get him to 600 pounds because you lose focus and time on other things and could make him less twitchy.”

Music to my ears. Remember this:

Remember watching Tyjon Lindsey go from 160 in the program to 200 pounds and losing all the reasons we recruited him? The long and short of it is there are other elements that are needed than just being strong. And if you only focus on that, it may not translate to the field the way you want it to. As my Iowa friend said, “If a squatting contest breaks out on the 50 you guys may have a chance. But since you have to play football I like our chances.”

Other elements than strength

One of the things I love that has really shifted from what our old staff used to do, is they are showing a lot more on the field work with sprinting and sled pushes/pulls, etc. Our previous staff again mostly focused on how much we were lifting.

Coach Campbell has brought up that the best way to get faster is to sprint. While the weight room can help in some capacity for that, if you want to get better at something you need to do it. Coach Campbell is using the Catapult system to verify MPHs by the players, and they are testing this weekly to make sure that guys aren’t getting slower with any of the things they may be doing. But compare that to our previous staff:

“We only test speed in the winter and beginning of summer because you don’t want injury risk before the season.”

What? How you are training could cause you to get injured if you sprint? A welcome change is here in that regard.

Soviet-Based Periodization

Someone asked me about this on Twitter, but Coach Campbell loves to tout it. Essentially this comes down to every athlete is at a different point in their strength training whether that be how strong they are or how much experience they have, and based on what your priority is for that athlete you can cater the program specifically to them. One of the things I absolutely hated about the previous staff was for the most part it was a one size fits all platform that “worked for everyone”. Look no further than us putting two kids in the hospital the first January they were here and the answer was “that’s how out of shape we were.” What? You make 400k a year and put two guys in the hospital, and the answer is “it was the athletes fault”? I would have fought them if that was my kid.

With what Campbell is trying to do, he assesses where kids are at and they won’t load the bar until the technique is good on the players end. So with the Soviet system, you may lighten the load and increase the reps to get the same workout. As they get better you increase the load and decrease the reps. Our inability to do that with our previous staff was a big part of our injury problem in my opinion.

Shifting from strength to speed

Part of the other situation with the the Soviet-Based Periodization is once you get a player to where he “needs to be” with strength (which is very subjective) you can start shifting the focus of the workouts. Do you need strength, power, explosiveness, speed, etc. As we talked about before, if you have a Wide Receiver squatting 500 pounds I would assume they are well versed in strength training and have good form, but they may shift to more speed mechanics and high end speed. The ability to shift and tailor the workouts with that is huge, and should pay dividends.

Not focused on just making guys massive

Another thing that pissed me off about previous training was it seemed our most important aspect was gaining weight. Shoot, we even had media members posting articles about how much weight guys have gained. Don’t get me wrong, everybody typically needs to put on weight in college, but we just went wayyyyy overboard. It looked to me like we were getting way too heavy and couldn’t even move. It appears the new coaches are seeing some of that as well:


“When I first got here I knew he was was a big, stout guy. I knew he could play the run. But just trying to help him elevate his game to the next level. Just showing his athleticism, getting to the edge, not just being a 2-gap guy, and being a guy who can move and get vertical in the backfield. He’s bought into it. His body is changing. He’s losing some weight so that’s helped.”

Losing weight with how we are going to play defensively is a big deal.


We are focusing on what makes our guys improve more as football players not just in the weight room, and Campbell came with this that i’ve been harping on for five years:

Our staff and fans got so enamored with “Husker Power” and having 7 plates on the bar to understand that the goal wasn’t awesome tweets, it was to win on Saturdays. Our coaches are going to make our players faster and better on the field all while trying to prevent injury. Tough to not like that.

I think our focus went from just “build muscle as fast as you can and at all costs” to actually looking at long term athletic development. Using some of the methods will actually help the players foundations and actually be able to develop instead of stalling out or in many instances going backwards. Campbell doesn’t believe a 1 rep max is as important as producing force quickly, which almost makes too much sense. As he referenced with squat maxes for WRs, understanding “strong enough” is going to help the football program.

Also, training and looking at results weekly instead of every 4 weeks with maxes and other things will help them adapt the program quicker instead of waiting for those results. Further, it creates competition in other ways. It’s not just who is lifting the most, it’s “who improved the most from last week” or a myriad of other things they can test like MPH, force, strength, etc.

I think our program went from building weight lifter/get off the bus guys to being an athlete first. I believe they know they may have to slow cook things a bit in regard to getting the guys where they want, but it will pay massive dividends in the long run.

Don’t forget to check out our Practice Observations for the Defense we dropped today!

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10 thoughts on “SSO’s S&C Update

  1. I’ll hop on the shameless plug bandwagon . . . SSO puts out great content and it’s only $5, so let’s help the guy out.

    S&C is fascinating. If I was of college age, it’s definitely a field I’d explore as a career. Our daughter works with a swim-specific strength coach during the summers and it makes a world of difference. Her college team got a new strength coach this past season and they did all kinds of things that didn’t make sense. Not surprisingly, the results weren’t good. It was frustrating for us as parents on this scale, but I can’t imagine how nuts people in the know were going at what NU was doing. Not to mention that the Huskers were probably a big joke to those on the cutting edge of the science. I’m glad those days appear to be behind us.

    1. I think it’s one of those things where shocking the body and trying new things are good. But by the time they get to college probably should have some sort of routine.

      Appreciate the backing!

  2. It seems we are at least in the ballpark of what other successful teams are doing with their programs. I won’t claim to be an expert on the fine details of what goes into S&C, but the theory of what you’re describing appears to be more in line with what I hear goes an at Alabama and Oregon and the like of what I’ve heard.

    Pitched in for the site, hope you get enough to cover your bases. $4.99 is reasonable considering people can post

    1. Appreciate ya man.

      I think the last staff just got real excited doing some things that fans got excited hearing about and lost their way a bit. Even Frost said they tried moving to more sprinting but if that’s not what your S&C coach is used to doing you may just be fooling yourself.

  3. Have a young athlete (incoming 8th grader), live on the west side of Omaha. Any recommendations for speed/strength training?

  4. Good stuff. Here’s to hoping the new S&C guys got the formula figured out. Personally, I’d take speed over strength any day in CFB. My earliest memories of me actually knowing or caring about the difference was seeing Corey McKeon all over the place making plays as a freshman and then bulking up to someone who was slow and ineffective after that. Maybe I overstated it a bit, but that was an impression that has stuck with me ever since. Wasn’t it Bob Devaney who allegedly told Boyd Eppley “if anyone gets slower, you’re fired”? Anyways, great stuff as always.

  5. Thoughts on this article? Feels really familiar. In particular this comment caught my eye.

    “We have young guys that have gained 20-30 pounds in two-three months, and we have big guys who’ve lost 10-15 pounds and also gained muscle mass. That’s just a tribute to what Kristin and Corey are doing; they’ve got a great program, and those guys are following it.”

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