As Georgia’s new head strength and conditioning coach, Joe Tereshinski has one goal in mind.
He intends to take back the fourth quarter.
“The whole culture that we’re going with is we’re gonna prepare this team for the fourth quarter,” Tereshinski said Friday on a media teleconference. “Georgia used to be known that in the fourth quarter, they won.”
“We’re gonna press and challenge these kids every day to overcome. They’re gonna have to overcome. They’re gonna have to go where they haven’t been,” he continued. “The only way you do that is you get a young man to get a group pushing and working so hard, they think they can’t go any further and they go further.”
Georgia emphasized the motto “Finish the Drill” when coach Mark Richt arrived in 2001, bringing noted strength coach Dave Van Halanger and his famed mat drills conditioning workouts with him from Florida State.
The Bulldogs experienced a great deal of success in the early part of their tenure, winning two Southeastern Conference championships and three SEC East titles in Richt’s first five years. But Georgia hasn’t finished off opponents nearly as successfully in recent seasons.
Georgia has faced 22 BCS-conference opponents in the last two seasons – posting an 11-11 record in those games – but the Bulldogs have outscored their opponent in the fourth quarter only eight times in that stretch. The Bulldogs outscored only Arkansas, Florida and Colorado in the fourth quarter this season, and yet they still lost all three of those games.
In total, BCS-conference teams outscored the Bulldogs 78-61 in the fourth quarter this season and 84-83 a year ago.
Certainly the team’s conditioning is not the only contributing factor in those struggles, but Richt apparently believes a change is necessary, as he moved Van Halanger out of the position he has held for 10 years on Thursday and inserted Tereshinski in his place.
Tereshinski has been one of the Bulldogs’ strength and conditioning coaches, along with various other roles, since he joined Georgia’s football staff in 1982. Known as one of the taskmasters on Georgia’s staff, he is the coach players report to for dreaded early morning runs when they commit disciplinary infractions.
He plans to bring a similar no-nonsense attitude to the weight room.
“These young men have a very brief window in their college careers. During that time, they must train their bodies to the utmost,” Tereshinski said. “Because of the NCAA rules, you’re limited to the amount of time you can train. So it must be specific training, it must be pinpoint, it must be right on. I feel a tremendous responsibility to these kids to take this job and train them to the best of my ability, and I will do that.”
Tereshinski has been Georgia’s video and game analysis coordinator throughout Richt’s tenure, producing game and practice footage for the coaches and players to review. He believes that gives him a unique perspective on the players’ habits and abilities that no current UGA strength coach could have – and that it also makes him a more effective choice than a new coach from outside the program would have been.
“I see every single play that our guys do during practice at least four or five times,” he said. “So I have a pretty good understanding of our team, our individuals, and so no, I don’t agree that somebody from the outside should have been brought in.”
Tereshinski, 57, is expected to bring back former Georgia strength coach, John Kasay, as part of his staff. A fellow former Bulldog letterman, Kasay was Georgia’s strength coach under Vince Dooley and served the athletic department in numerous capacities before retiring this past summer.
“He is a tough, hard, knowledgeable, unforgiving, pointed, disciplined man that loves to train kids. I will visit with John Kasay,” Tereshinski said.
Several changes are probably coming within the strength program, however.
Tereshinski said he will sit down with Richt to determine whether the Bulldogs will continue using Van Halanger’s mat drills during winter conditioning workouts.
He will also meet with the current assistant strength coaches – Clay Walker, Keith Gray and Rex Bradberry, who will coach the Bulldogs through their bowl game – after the postseason to determine what staffing changes he might make for next year.
Tereshinski intends to use a staff nutritionist – a role currently filled by Bradberry – whose job description will not include any weight room responsibilities, but will instead focus on dietary issues, players’ body-fat levels and proper supplementation.
He also plans to incorporate some of the technological aspects of his video work into the team’s weight room regimen. The coaches will videotape every workout to review the players’ technique and effort as a means of quality control.
“Technology today – and you know, I’ve kind of had my hand in the video end of it – we’re gonna bring that part into the weight room and use it very highly and a lot with the kids,” he said. “Because anytime that we see something we can correct, it’s a lot easier when a young man will sit down and observe what he’s doing, and let him explain what he’s doing, then he’s gonna be able to correct it.”
He may intend to use some new-school training methods as he takes over the weight program, but Tereshinski plans to emphasize a decidedly old-school work ethic in the strength program. And woe be unto the player who regularly slacks off – with video evidence to prove it.
“They’ll sit down in front of the TV monitors and they’ll see themselves,” Tereshinski said. “I’m gonna ask them, ‘What’s your goal here? Is it to start? Is it to make all-conference? Is it to make all-American? Is it to have a shot at the league? Do you think you can do it doing this way? Maybe you think you’re competing against the guys here on this team, but what are they doing at Auburn, what are they doing at Alabama, what are they doing at Texas, what are they doing at Green Bay, Penn State, USC? You don’t know what those kids are doing, but you’d better. You’d better hope that these two hours that you’re spending, you’re outworking your opponents, because when it comes time for the NFL draft, you’re gonna have to go up there to the combine and you’re gonna have to outperform. He’s been doing it every day in his college career, have you?’
“In essence, you have to get those minds thinking that they have a limited amount of time in their college career to get to their best competitive edge,” he continued, “because when it comes time to compete in the SEC, you’ve gotta be at your best.”