Inside Training Camp with Michael Davis

Michael DavisSenior Michael Davis, who has been with the Georgia State football team since the beginning, wrote a first-hand blog for InsideGSUSports on what a typical two-a-day of training camp looks like for him and his fellow teammates. Not every day is a two-a-day as NCAA rules dictate only a certain number of practices in preseason. Still, training camp is a lot of hours and hard work, but the results can be rewarding in the end.

Each day starts off with 7 a.m. breakfast at the Piedmont North dining hall.  The dining hall is set up in a buffet style and serves a wide variety of food.  There are plenty of healthy options for the team, so that we can fuel our bodies properly for the rigorous day.  They offer almost every fruit you can think of and we can even have an omelet made to our liking.  Coach Miles constantly stresses nutrition and hydration.  Practicing in the humid Georgia weather causes us to lose water weight each day, so we have to make sure we salt our food as well as drink a gallon of water for every four pounds we lose.

After breakfast we head over to the practice facility to get treatment and taped before we go to meetings.  This is a time for us to get any of our bumps and bruises checked out as well as warm up our joints in preparation for our first practice of the day.  It’s almost like a small race from the dining hall to the facility, because everyone wants to be one of the first people to get taped.  Our athletic training staff does a great job of making sure that over a hundred people are treated, taped, and braced in time to get to special teams meetings.  You DO NOT want to be late to meetings.  That is unless you enjoy a little extra post-practice conditioning.

The first special teams meeting usually starts around 8 to 8:30 a.m.  One or two special teams units will meet for about 30 minutes to review the film of a previous practice or install new a part of the coaches plan.

Once the special teams meetings are over we meet in our position groups with our position coaches.  This is a time that we can really focus on reviewing the film and increasing our knowledge of the scheme.  I really enjoy meetings because they allow me time to focus strictly on football.  After juggling football workouts, class, and interning at IBM this summer, it’s good to be able to focus on fine tuning my game with no other obligations.  Film study in meetings is more than simply watching the screen.  In order to get better you have to examine everything from the defensive alignment to your first step on every snap.  Detailed notes are extremely useful and can serve as a reminder to help eliminate any mistakes that were made at a previous practice.  Our offensive line coach, Harold Ethridge, makes sure that we know about every mistake we made.  He’s such a great coach that he can even find something wrong when we do it right! Haha.  He really makes meetings an enjoyable time for all of us with his unique sense of humor, while still being able to help us grow as a unit.  One of our goals is to correct all of our mistakes in order to slow the greying process in his hair that we contributed to initiating.  I guess we’ll have to wait until after the season to see how we did.

After meetings, we put on our shoulder pads and head on the field to practice.  The first practice of the day emphasizes all of our special teams.  We begin with a special teams warm-up before Coach Pollard puts us through our dynamic warm-up.  After warm-up we do drills with our position coaches for about 15 minutes before we break into working on all of our special teams, ranging from punt to field goal.  Once practice is over we get in the dreaded cold tubs!  Depending on how hot it is, the cold tubs can either be torture or relieving.  For me, it’s almost always torture.

At 12:30 in the afternoon we head back to Piedmont North to have lunch at the dining hall.  Everyone makes sure to drink a ton of fluids to replace the water weight that we lost during the first practice.  Once lunch is over we have a break until about 3 p.m.  Most people on the team use this time to take a nap, get some extra treatment, or just get off of their feet.

When 3 p.m. rolls around we’re back in the training room getting taped for the second practice of the day.  After taping we go into another special teams meeting at 4 p.m.  This special teams meeting lasts for an hour, so that the coaches will have time cover all of the film from the special teams practice with the players.

Position meetings begin immediately after the special teams meeting at 5 p.m.  In this meeting, we continue to review the practice film from either the previous day or from earlier in the day.

At 6 p.m. we are back on the field for dynamic warm-up and stretch.  After warm-up is over we do a competition drill to get the team fired up.  Most of the time competition involves three offensive players and a running back versus three defensive players and linebacker.  The objective is for the offensive players to block the defensive players in order to allow the running back to gain 10 yards.  The offense has three chances to gain the yards and the defense has three chances to stop us.  The battles get pretty intense because sometimes the losers have to do up-downs.

Once competition is over, we go to individual drills to work on the critical parts of our technique.  For the offensive line, we go with Coach Ethridge to work on our first step and staying low under the chutes.  Inside run is immediately after individual drills.  Inside run is a drill solely about attitude.  Every play is a run and the offense and defense both know it.  In order to make any yards, the offense must execute and physically dominate the defense.  Only the interiors of the offense and defense take part in this drill while the defensive backs and wide receivers go do one-on-one drills.

Later in practice we finish up by doing blitz pick-up drill and team.  During blitz pick-up, the defense works many of their exotic blitzes against various offensive pass protection schemes and occasional run plays.  Blitz pick-up really keeps the offense on our toes, while also allowing the defense to get great work on their blitz fits.  Team period is a time for the offense and defense to run our base plays.  The offense uses a two-huddle format in order to keep a high tempo for the defense to work against.  This period of practice is probably the most similar to actual gameplay.  After practice is over we come together in the middle of the field and coach gives us his evaluation of how practice went.  Once his speech is over, we break it down as a team and head to the cold tubs for a miserable second round.

After showering and eating dinner in the dining hall, our work for the day is pretty much done.  Most of the team is usually home by around 9:30 or 10 p.m. and we can finally lay our heads down to recharge for the same thing the next day.  It’s a grind from sun up to sun down, but it’s all worth is because we know that there are rewards to come on the horizon.

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