Ben Pollard likes what he is seeing from his Georgia State football players during strength and conditioning sessions this summer.
“We are making some gains,” he said. “I feel better about some of the things that are happening.”
Because of NCAA rules, Pollard can’t say how many players are participating or who specifically is doing well. However, he was able to say that there are more players participating this summer and that several players, including numerous true freshmen, are impressing him.
“I believe that some of the true freshmen will step in and help us,” he said. (Twitter followers will note that offensive lineman Garrett Gorringe, defensive lineman Joe Lockley and wide receiver Avery Sweeting have been getting compliments from GSU fans and followers).
It’s much different than last summer, Pollard’s first, when the players didn’t know him and he didn’t know the players. That unfamiliarity made it hard for Pollard to accomplish as much as he wanted. The team went 3-8 and he said the team’s need to be stronger and faster led to breakdowns in confidence.
“The mental part of getting more confident is continuing to grow,” he said. “It’s easier to feel better about yourself when you are stronger. We weren’t physically out of things, we had mental let-downs confidence wise.
“That’s where we have to grow up, have to mature, have to grow up.”
With a full offseason, Pollard has gotten after them.
Last summer, just one player was able to squat more than 500 pounds. During a recent round of testing, 23 players surpassed that mark and one hit 600. No player was able to bench more than 400 pounds last year. This year, a true freshman lifted 425 and several more players have lifted more than 400.
The team worked out for four weeks in June, had a week off, and are back at it this week. Pollard said the team lifts weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They run at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday, after which they participate in seven-on-seven drills. They have 14 more sessions remaining.
Pollard said the second-year players, particularly the linebackers are among the strongest players on the team. He wants to see more from the offensive line, which needs to replace three starters, and the defensive line. He predicted two true freshmen could see playing time, one on each unit.
Pollard said he hasn’t tested the players’ speed, because he doesn’t to risk a player tweaking hamstring or sustaining any injury that may cause them to miss training. But he said he can tell that the players are much faster and that some of the true freshmen are very fast.
“Younger kids pushing older kids,” he said. “I think we will play faster as a group because we will be in better condition.”