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Blog: Tereshinski on his new hires, state of the strength program

Joe Tereshinski has sort of been in a bunker mentality since he took over as Georgia’s director of strength and conditioning after the 2010 season.

Marc Weiszer/Staff

He turned down repeated interview requests, but spoke extensively to reporters this afternoon for the first time in more than a year and brought along his recent staff hires: former Penn State strength coach John Thomas and speed coach Sherman Armstrong.

“The three of us will work together from here on out to come up with a plan for our players to follow,” Tereshinski said. “We don’t have any great leader. We’re all three equal in my book. The thing that’s on the table that’s most important is the development of our kids, the development of our players.”

Thomas holds the title of senior associate director of strength and conditioning. Armstrong is associate director. Former Georgia linebacker Tony Gilbert remains on staff.

Tereshinski said the team will change its summer training to a three-day lifting cycle and two days entirely on speed and quickness.

“You can lift the world,” Tereshinski said, “but if you can’t get from point A to point B before your opponent gets there it doesn’t matter.”

On Thomas:

–Tereshinski said Georgia “was very fortunate to get,” the man who served as Joe Paterno’s head strength coach for 20 years.

“I feel like I pulled off the greatest coup ever to bring this man in here who has agreed to work with me,” Tereshinski said.

–Thomas, who has been in his current job for about three weeks, said the transition hasn’t been difficult for him. He met Tereshinski six or seven years ago at some strength and conditioning conferences and talked to a colleague at Auburn before he took the job.

Asked if he instilled fear into players like his boss, Thomas said: “Probably not to the same level as Coach T.  I’m sure there will be days where I’m in a guy’s face and there will be days when I’m patting a guy on the back.”

–Thomas is known for high intensity training, something Tereshinski said is similar to what he has done during his career.

“I do not know all the answers,” Tereshinski said. “I am learning from John. It is a very bright day in our weight room to have him there. He has a great rapport with our kids. He has a presence and it’s a commanding presence.”

Thomas said his version of high intensity training means using whatever apparatus—a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, heavy object or machines “in a safe, very intense fashion.”

–He said, yes, he sees better athletes across the board than at Penn Sate.

On Armstrong:

–An “outside the box” hire, according to Tereshinski, who called Armstrong a person “who understands speed, quickness, agility, who can teach it.” Armstrong was founder and head performance specialist at VAST Sports Performance in Tampa,Fla.

Armstrong said his hire is unusual that Georgiaplayers will have days set aside for him to work with players on speed.

“If we have success and we’re able to do what I hope we can do,” Tereshinski said, “I think they’ll be a lot of questions `What did we do?’ You may see something like this go on elsewhere. That’s pretty much how we are in this business.”

–Armstrong, a former pro sprinter who was named 2000 Big Ten Athlete of the Year at Illinois, said speed can be improved.

“I’ve been able to really pick up and nitpick every small detail that an athlete may be doing wrong to help him improve,” he said.

–He trained Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray and former Georgia safety Reshad Jones in Tampa at the business he founded and ran for about a year and a half.

“The buzz is getting around and they’re excited,” Armstrong said of the current players. “They’ve already seen increases in strength so now it’s what else I can do to get better?”

He said players are hungry for summer workouts with Armstrong. He said he’s looking forward to working not only with the skill players but making the linemen able to move their hips more fluidly to push and explode and drive opponents.

On where program is now in strength and conditioning:

–Tereshinski again emphasized he trains to prepare his players for the fourth quarter, but Georgia had second-half issues last year in the SEC title game and the Outback Bowl.

“I can tell the Bulldog Nation right now that as a team overall we are stronger than where we were last year,” Tereshinski said.

He said he likes the direction the strength and conditioning of the program is headed.

“Very much so, yes,” he said. “I think coach Richt does, I think our coaching staff does. We’re just going to continue chipping away at developing these kids and our emphasis still is to win the fourth quarter. If you’re the strongest most powerful team in the fourth quarter, your chances of winning the game are pretty good.”

Georgia scored more than its opponents in every quarter last season except for the fourth, when it was outscored 91-78

–On replacing assistant Rex Bradberry, who is leaving to train U.S. Army Special Forces: “That’s one position that we may just go get a G.A. Because in our profession you have to have a door open to bring young people in and allow them to learn under the best.”

–On if the staff changes were by design: “It just kind of unfolded that way. Keith (Gray) got a great opportunity to go to the Philadelphia Eagles and doubled his salary. Rex got a great situation where he’s going to train our Special Forces. He’s very excited about that. He’s going to hit a windfall financially also. It was something they had to do and wanted to do to grow their careers.”

Georgia also lost Thomas Brown, who became running backs coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga.

–On return of mat drills: “Looking for a way to make our team grow in the mental toughness,” Tereshinski said. Tereshinski’s voice boomed out when he said the words “mental toughness.”

Georgia players went through the six different drills once a week in four different sessions.

“Our kids grew,” he said. “They were able to go through a door they hadn’t gone through as a team in their mentality process to be tougher. It was also a great conditioner.”

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