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Bringing About A Culture Change

So as mentioned in the round up below Dohn and the Daily News staff recently spent a day with Mike Linn and the UCLA football program. The result is a through and detailed report on UCLA's off season conditioning program that started in January and some telling description re. the efforts of our coaches and players on trying to break the culture of laziness and mediocrity left behind by Karl Dorrell:

"In the past, I know guys were asked to do six reps, and they would do four," Linn said. "That cheats themselves, and it cheats the whole team. If I'm asking for eight reps, it's going to be eight reps."

The first dividends of the offseason workout regimen should be noticeable Thursday, when the Bruins begin their 15-session spring practice. How much further the Bruins need to go should be better known after the April 25 spring game, but lack of strength was the primary reason UCLA was unable to run the football last season.

More on all the lollygagging going on under Dorrell:

Several players and former players, who asked not to be identified, said they were given autonomy in the weight room under Linn's predecessor, E.J. "Doc" Kreis, who was hired by former coach Karl Dorrell. Not only did players cut weight-lifting reps short, they bypassed certain lifting exercises they felt were not instrumental to their position, or exercises they disliked. [...]

Dorrell did away with training table, which is team-only dining in which the nutritional staff can tailor meals to suit an individual.

Players, being college kids, often filled up on fast food. Neuheisel re-instituted training table, and Linn said each player has his caloric and carbohydrate intake monitored.

Obviously things have changed:

For UCLA, the offseason began in early January.

The team was split into three groups, with position and class schedule taken into account. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, they were early risers for workouts.

The day started before daylight. The first group met at 6 a.m. on Spaulding Field, and the other groups followed in 90 minute intervals. Stretching and footwork drills kicked off the activity.

After 20 to 30 minutes, the players were sent to the weight room, and for those feeling the need to jog, Linn and a few of his assistants were on hand to make sure the jogging lasted a nanosecond or so.

While Neuheisel and his staff didn't bring many wins in the first season of the rebuilding project, the change in practice tempo was noticeable, and that same approach is now part of the offseason program.

"I want the proper form and range of motion, and you can see the tempo of practice," Linn said. "We want guys moving from one station to another with tempo. There has to be an internal sense of urgency."

Of course none of this should be a big surprise to the regulars here on BN. It shouldn't be a surprise that there was so much emphasis on S&C this off season. We already got a glimpse of the ongoing culture change via reports on KTLA that tele blogged about in November. Moreover,CRN told us last December that this was going to be a "vastly different" off-season during which the "biggest change" would take place in the weight room.Some of the results are noticeable heading into Thursday:

The change, in some instances, has been dramatic.

Reserve linebacker Donovan Carter went from 227 to 255 pounds. Projected starting right tackle Nate Chandler added 30 pounds, and is now at 290, and projected strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers is at 255, up 17 pounds.

"There's not a whole lot different with the program this year as last year, but guys now understand what we are asking from them," said Linn, who was hired by Neuheisel. "We don't have to deal with terminology and talk about the proper form because they already know it, so we can get more weight on the bar."

However, we still should be careful in tempering our expectations:

[C]oach Rick Neuheisel acknowledges it is not a panacea for fixing all that ailed the Bruins last season.

The idea is the offseason program should merely put the team in position to compete on the field.

"I'm not sure if we'll be there next year, but eventually we will," Rick Neuheisel said.

I know quoted Dohn's piece heavily but you should read the whole piece by going here.

It will take at least couple of years for through transformation of this program's mindset from the previous regime. But the results so far are encouraging and it certainly has me cautiously optimistic about a season that will show incremental but discernible improvement from CRN's first year at UCLA.