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Al Golden and His U-Tough Program: What's Been Missing Under Previous Coaches

Now is the time of year when guys are hard at work on the practice field and in the weight room. If you follow any college athletes on Twitter, then you know that half of what is being posted is in regards to their next workout, or how they felt in the gym. In respect to Miami, it feels like a lot more of those tweets are being typed out since Golden got to Coral Gables than ever before. He instituted his U-Tough program during the off season as a way to keep his athletes in shape. Different jersey colors are used to let you know who is working hard, and who needs to step it up. His off season conditioning work is unlike anything that we have seen or heard about in the past few years at Miami, and after doing some quick comparisons from last year's roster to this year's most recent one, it seems that its working.

Let me start off by pointing out that comparing the weights listed on a football teams roster is not at all an exact science, nor does it mean definitively that a kid or team will produce more on the field depending on his weight gain or loss. It is simply a vague means of seeing exactly what kind of work has been put in, and using common sense to figure the other things out. For example, if you see that a group of offensive linemen have put on a whole mess of weight in the off season, you could likely deduce that that is a good thing, since you don't want small guys on your line. Or if you see that kickers and wide receivers have shed a bit of weight, depending on the rest of the guys measurements, you could say that he way trying to gain speed, or flexibility. It is by no means an exact science, but it does at the very least give you an idea of how much the coaching staff is pushing these guys to get better. The rosters used for the comparison were pulled from this website, and while they are most likely not completely 100% accurate, they are accurate enough for this "study."

After cutting out the guys who are either no longer on the team, or freshman that would have no comparison weight form last year, I merely listed out the weights listed on the final 2011 roster to that of the current 2012 roster, and tallied up the differences. I'm not working in a lab with beakers and stuff here, folks. The first thing that jumped out at me was the final total of weight gained. Before I even factored in any of the weight losses that had occurred, the gain number was just massive. Across the football team, a total of around 396 pounds has been gained, or the equivalent of 1 and 1/5th Vince Wilforks. That is just ridiculous. The total weight loss was 46 pounds, which is a fairly low number considering most of the losses happened with kickers and guys switching positions, like Dallas Crawford, who is down 3 pounds as he makes the switch from DB to RB/WR.

The biggest gains came on the defensive line, and this is where that logic and common sense i mentioned above come into play. Obviously our D Line has been....lacking the last few years. The edge guys have been fine, but there has been no push up the middle. So when you look at a roster and see that two defensive linemen were the ones gaining the most weight, and they are guys most likely slated to play the interior, you can see why the push has been lacking. The number one gainer was Junior Alexis, who played interior line last year at 6 foot 2, 240 pounds. That's linebacker size. This off season, he has gained 40 pounds, putting him up to 280, and much better suited to play line. The next highest gain was Chris Dunckel, who put on 27 pounds, and then Corey King, who packed on 25. Even big Seantrel Henderson on the offensive side of the ball has added 5 pounds, pushing him up to a massive 350.

Worried about the linebacker position? Perhaps the skill and experience is not quite there yet, but size is definitely not an issue. Reading down the list of guys shows nothing but gains, with the most impressive being Nantambu-Akil Fentress, who added 20 pounds, and Thurston Armbrister who has moved from DB to LB due to gaining 17 pounds and outgrowing his previous position. Our tight ends are just big, with the lightest guy being Clive Walford at 245. The rest just climb from there, with the majority being around 270-275, including Asante Cleveland, who says that while he has added weight, his speed is still there. The wide outshave posted pretty impressive gains as well, with Dorsett and Kidd both in the teens.

As I said, comparing weights can be a bit misleading in some cases. Guys being injured can cause weight loss, and weight gain does not always mean that a guy is in better shape. Knowing how Golden runs his ship, however, helps me look at these numbers and come away with one main conclusion: this upcoming team will be young, inexperienced, and at times a bumpy ride, but you can bet they will be in much better game shape than they were last year, or the year before, and so on. Golden has preached conditioning since he got here, and he is finally getting guys to buy in. It doesn't even take a weight comparison to see that. All you have to do is read his quotes on Brandon McGee, whom he says is working hard for the first time since Golden got there.