Boise State will get tougher, more flexible during revamped summer conditioning

In addition to upper-deck bleacher runs and yoga sessions, football coaches are allowed to participate in workouts this year.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJune 1, 2014 

— Tough, nasty … yoga?

Those are the buzzwords as the Boise State football team begins its summer conditioning program Monday.

Veterans will work out seven of the next eight weeks. They lift weights on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, run on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and meet for a yoga class on Saturdays. Newcomers arrive at the beginning of July.

"The emphasis is to get tough and nasty," strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman said.

That means a return to the old-school concept of running the upper-deck bleachers of Albertsons Stadium - from the first row to the top row.

But the usual grind of summer workouts also will be augmented with the new-school concept of yoga. Pitman began using yoga with the players at Colorado, where he worked from 2006 to 2010. He used it last year at Arkansas State, too.

Yoga enhances players' flexibility, body awareness and balance, Pitman said.

"I wasn't real hip on it back in the day," said Pitman, a former Boise State center who was the Broncos' strength and conditioning coach from 1999 to 2006. "At Colorado, I actually did it a little bit and it killed me, so I said, 'If this is going to hammer me, it's going to hammer them.' … It's something I feel like helps them, especially the way we lift. It unwinds them a little bit at the end of the week."

It will be a different summer for the Broncos, and not just because of the yoga.

The NCAA changed its rules to allow football coaches to participate in the workouts. Players also can spend up to 2 hours per week meeting with their coaches.

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin plans to get his staff involved with the players this summer, but not to the full extent of the rules.

"I don't think just because you can means you should do it," he said. "It's been important for our culture here that the players have really taken that (summer program) and developed a lot of it on their own. … We'll take advantage of the meeting time early in the summer, and we'll take advantage of the coaches being out there. We'll step back away for a few weeks, then dive back into it."

The biggest benefit of the new rules, Harsin said, is the Broncos can explain in meetings some of the concepts that they didn't get to during spring ball. That will help prepare the team for the more intense learning pace of fall camp.

The players can't use footballs during the conditioning drills, but they can work on any new plays during player-run practices.

"It's going to be different, of course, but it's going to be a great change," junior defensive tackle Armand Nance said. "When you're talking to the older guys, they might not understand that technique as fully as the coach will. When you go out there and you're doing drills, you're talking to a coach. You can ask a specific question."

The coaches' presence also will help Pitman. More eyes means less chance for anyone to give a questionable effort.

"With the coaches out there, it's going to get the kids' attention more," Pitman said. "I probably won't have to do as much yelling this summer as I've had to do in the past."

Pitman, who was particularly impressed with the offensive linemen and linebackers, wants to continue the strength gains he saw from the team during the spring semester and will place a heavier emphasis on speed development this summer.

He liked the attitude he saw over the first five months of the year.

"They're hungry to keep going forward," Pitman said. "They're borderline embarrassed at how the season went last year, so that's fuel for pushing them along. … We've got a lot of work to do - they know that, I know that and the coaches know that - but they're picking it up at a rapid clip."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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