Honestly, when has the phrase “Miami Hurricanes football” been synonymous with anything other than “finely tuned athletes”. Dial up any classic game from yesteryear and it was UM going hard down the stretch while the other guys were winded, with hands on hips.
The reason “Four Fingers” meant something for so long? Because the fourth quarter was when Miami went into overdrive. All those sweltering summer days busting-ass on Greentree, chewing on that South Florida humidity – that’s what made the Canes bigger, stronger and faster than the competition.
Over the past few years, not so much. Miami has closer resembled past competition, which helped amass that 41-36 record since the 2005 Peach Bowl. Sucking wind. Fading late. Taking a play off. Letting physical fatigue impact the mental game.
One hates to say UM had become football-soft this past half decade, but again, those losses didn’t just happen. There’s a science behind those on-the-field failures.
The good news? Head coach Al Golden has had enough. When asked about unexpected things that occurred year one as Miami’s head coach, NCAA investigation, excluded, Golden was downright forthright.
“The three things that jump out to me that we have identified as areas that we need to make progress in — and are making progress — that I would have never guessed going to the University of Miami,” Golden said, “are conditioning, strength and nutrition.”
Golden stated that all three impact every phase of the Canes’ game – from overall execution, to late game performance as well as staying strong as the season winds down.
“I’m just saying in particular that teams that really don’t have discipline in terms of their strength and conditioning, that really don’t pay the price in the whole off-season, have a hard time staying strong and being as strong in November [as] they are in September — have a hard time finishing games. There were a lot of opportunities where we did not finish.
“It’s my team. It’s not a function of the players; It’s a function of what we demand and expect.”
Golden isn’t just leaving the physical rebuilding up to strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey, either, as the second-year coach has recruited a nutritionist and is educating players about what they both eat and drink. There is also more competition in the weight room than in recent off-seasons.
Running back Mike James and cornerback Brandon McGee were both cited in a Herald article on the improvements being made conditioning-wise.
James stated he’s in the best shape of his live, weighing in around 225 pounds and improving his bench from 375 to 400 pounds, 500 to 525 pounds in the squat and 310 to 320 pounds in the power clean, while McGee upped his squat max from 385 to 415, while his bench jumped to 300, from 255.
If the 2012 Hurricanes want to follow the lead set by the Canes of yesteryear, pictured above, listening to Golden’s plan is a great place to start.