ATHENS – After an emotional, draining win at Missouri two weeks ago, Georgia players arrived back home around 3:30 in the morning. In years past, they would have had the entire next day for a full day off rest. But not anymore.
Instead, players now have what’s called a “full lift” on Sunday, about a 45-minute weightlifting session.
“You’d think that if you came in and just played a hard-fought game, especially after Missouri, you come in at 3:30 (a.m.) and then have to lift at 2 p.m.,” senior offensive tackle Greg Pyke said, smiling. “It’s tough, but I think that’s what makes our team have that edge in the fourth quarter, that we put ourselves in those positions to kind off just out-work people.”
Indeed, Georgia has out-scored its opponents 24-10 in the fourth quarter this season. But opponents have out-scored the Bulldogs in the first, second and third quarters.
The full-lift on Sundays isn’t the only major game-week change. There’s also a full lift on Wednesdays. Under the previous coaching regime, according to receiver Isaiah McKenzie, there was a “light lift during the week – when we could.”
Does that leave you anymore fatigued during the week and in the lead-up to the game?
“Oh it doesn’t affect us,” Pyke said. “Because we lift today then have Thursday and Friday and Saturday. So you’ve got three days off – from lifting.”
About that: The practice schedule is also slightly different. And slightly more aggressive.
The full-pads practices are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, just like before. But the Monday and Thursday practices are now in “shells” – helmets, shoulder pads and shorts – whereas before it was a “helmets’ practice – no shoulder pads, just helmets and shorts. That means a bit more hitting on Mondays and Thursdays, but no tackling to the ground.
“I don’t see any difference,” McKenzie said. “It’s just with shells we still make contact, with helmets you can’t.”
From the outside, all the added work may seem exhausting. But Pyke insisted it’s not been to any detriment.
“I think that’s something that’s improved since I’ve been here,” said Pyke, a fifth-year senior. “But just being able to go and know that we’ve worked so hard and so long, whether it be lifting or extra drills.”