Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

When Squatting Turns From 'Go for It' to 'Do It' for Nebraska

August 2, 2018
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Last year, if someone didn’t want to do a weight, they didn’t do it.

Luke Gifford, now a senior linebacker, makes a point to keep from criticizing the last coaching regime in Lincoln, it was just a different approach to lifting. Head coach Scott Frost said Thursday afternoon his team will probably lift more in-season than they have in a while. Just a different approach. 

Maybe the way to categorize it might be this: instead of “go for it,” now it’s “do it.”

“He just pushes us more than I think we’ve ever been pushed. In the past, we’ve been able to kind of slack,” Gifford said Thursday afternoon before team meetings got underway and fall camp officially begins for Nebraska. “With Coach [Zach] Duval, he’s going to put it on there and you’re either going to get it or you’re going to fail. That’s the way it should be. You don’t have a choice. That’s the only way you’re going to get to where you want to be.”

Where Nebraska wants to be is in Indianapolis. Guard Tanner Farmer was adamant about that much when he met with the media. Gifford echoed those sentiments, too. It’s the same thing Husker seniors said a week ago in Chicago at Big Ten Media Days. These guys don’t think this is a “rebuild” year

Maybe part of that belief is confidence born out of Duval’s Husker Power rebirth. Guard Jerald Foster was sporting a brand new black and red “HUSKER POWER” bracelet last week, with the hashtag “War Daddy Up” on the inside. When asked about it, his mood perked up and a huge smile appeared. There’s pride over what they’ve accomplished in the weight room.

“I think it definitely puts some confidence in you,” tight end Jack Stoll said. “It’s promising to see that we’re heading in the right direction and I think we’re all just really excited to see the results of everything.”

Now, maxing out a squat is different from going full speed on a kickoff and blocking somebody. In terms of motor skills, they’re two completely different tasks. Duh. But everyone in the program knows that attack mentality they’ve built with Duval directly translates over.

“Everything we did this summer was to prepare us for what we’re going to do this fall,” Gifford said.

And since we’re talking about squats, we can’t not talk about Farmer. 

Farmer is, by his teammates' accounts, the team’s leading squat guy. He repped 765 pounds three times.  Seven hundred sixty-five pounds.

“When I first came to college my goal was to do 700 pounds,” Farmer said. “That’s the goal that I wanted to be able to do and I thought it was something like I might reach it. Then my senior year [Duval] comes in here and I do 765 for three. 

“I’m like, now I’ve got to set a new goal to go even higher.”

Duval asked for 110 percent commitment and the team has given it to him.

“Farmer squatting 765, he never would have gotten there if he didn’t put on 600 when he was only squatting 500 last year,” Gifford said. “It’s one of those things where you don’t know you can do it until you do it. For guys like Farmer and a lot of other guys I think it’s really paid off.”

Stoll says defensive linemen Freedom Akinmoladun and Damian Jackson are other guys that have touched that 700-pound-threshold. He calls Jackson an “animal in the weight room” and Akinmoladun draws a similar description. And yes, seeing a teammate do what Farmer did absolutely gets everyone else in the gym fired up as well.

“It’s just unbelievable to see all the gains people are making,” Stoll said. “It’s exciting to see how much stronger and how much bigger everyone is.”

Now it’s time to take that excitement to the field.

“Offseason momentum is for newspapers and fans on websites,” Frost said. “It’s time to prove it. I hope our guys are ready for it. I think they’re going to have more confidence going into this year because of the way they look, the way they feel, the way they can move, how much stronger they are. 

“The offseason is going well but it doesn’t really matter until the rubber hits the road and we get tested. We need to see if the progress that we made is going to make a difference.”

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