The Ohio State football team is buying into what new strength coach Mickey Marotti is feeding them — literally and figuratively. And with a new “no loafing” rule in effect the players are quickly buying into Marotti’s plan.
While working in an ultra-competitive weight room environment, OSU players have responded to their new program instituted by Marotti, the assistant athletic director of football sports performance. Players and coaches have already seen positive results, Marotti told reporters Wednesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
OSU is in week five of its five-days-a-week program, which Marotti described as a hybrid program that attempts to maximize the genetic potential of each player.
“We do Olympic lifting. We do power lifting. We do strength training. We do speed training,” Marotti said. “We want (players) faster. We want them quicker. We want them leaner. We want them meaner. We want them stronger, more explosive.”
Marotti said each player’s flexibility, body fat and strength were assessed, and players are getting a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in the program.
“Everything is done in a very disciplined, accountable fashion,” Marotti said. “So if someone doesn’t do something right, the whole group suffers or — I hate to say ‘suffers’ — the whole group has a consequence of doing it again.”
“Disciplined” might be an understatement.
Marotti has created a breakfast club for “high-needs players” that need to cut or gain significant amounts of weight, and for all freshmen. A dietitian is present at on-campus eateries to guide the players in their dining selections during set hours.
Marotti also helped overhaul the student-athlete meal menu at The Fawcett Center.
“We re-did the whole menu,” Marotti said, “and it’s all stuff you’re supposed to eat as an athlete.”
Additionally, the players are adjusting to new statistics that team managers keep track of during drills called loafs.
A loaf is credited to a player during a moment of deceleration during a drill, Marotti said. When a second loaf is credited to a player, they’re given a lavender shirt that must be worn around the training facility.
Redshirt junior linebacker Etienne Sabino, who said he has lost weight and feels faster after five weeks in the new program, has yet to wear a lavender shirt.
“You don’t want to wear those shirts at all,” Sabino said. “Just loafing in general, you don’t want to get those. The lavender (shirt) is definitely motivation not to get any loafs.”
Sabino, who said he has dropped to 235 pounds from 245 pounds, said the challenges of Marotti’s comprehensive plan have produced results.
“We’ve all seen great changes in our bodies,” Sabino said. “We’re really pushing ourselves. It’s definitely been challenging. It’s harder than I thought.”
Junior defensive lineman John Simon agreed and said each player has been tested.
“I think the workouts have been tough for everyone. The whole workout, there’s no let up,” Simon said. “Everyone’s getting great workouts in. A lot of people are getting in shape, myself included. Everyone’s improving.”
Marotti has also instituted some combative events into the program, such as offense versus defense tug-of-war.
Marotti said the new workouts, while foreign to some players, are designed to back the players into a corner and force them to fight their way out of it.
“The response has been great,” Marotti said. “Competition — it’s everything. It’s not just push-ups or beating a guy around a cone … All the players know who beat who, … who came in last, who came in first. It’s all about competing on a daily basis.”
OSU begins spring football drills on March 28 with the 2012 Spring Game set to take place on April 21.