March 15, 2011

Gerch talks Army S&C

With Spring practice in the record books, the team transfers their focus from the field to the weight room as the Black Knights are now about to embark on the Winter Strength & Conditioning aspect of their program.

Although it is Spring break time for the players and a slow football week, this is initial preparation phase for the S&C staff.

Brett Gerch took a few moments out of his schedule to discuss with GBK what the players will be up against upon their return, along with the noticeable progress of some of the members of the squad.

Winter Conditioning

"It's going to be a little different," notes Gerch of the Black Knights' S&C winter kickoff.

"The first two days when we get back we have practice (14th & 15th), that is an off season intro practice by position coaches. While they are doing that with their respective groups, I will be doing the lifting session on the Monday and Tuesday."

Once the offseason introduction is done on the 22nd, then on the 24th the players will go into our workouts doing the full lifts and runs that will consists of "lots" of Squatting; The players will be exposed to box & chain squats, power cleans, power snatch, a lot of prometrics.

Then look for the team to move into the run portion of their conditioning. "We are going to start using more weighted sprints … we are going to use sleds," explains Gerch.

"We used the sleds briefly the five weeks prior because I didn't feel some of the guys were ready to put that load on their hamstrings. But we should be good now, so when they get back from spring break for the five weeks until school is out, we will be using sled sprints every day."

"One day in there will be doing position type runs. We will have a bunch of different stations set up so the DB's will focus more on their back peddle and flipping their hips or turn their heads when the ball is coming. We will do the same thing for the other positions like the line, etc. That would be one of our agility days. The other linear day would be work on our starts and acceleration."

Paying Dividends

For Gerch and his team, it is great to the fruit of 5 weeks of winter workouts and so we asked the mentor, who passed the EYE TEST? Here are few of his thoughts.

"Steve Erzinger of course and he's always taken steps … he seems to keep improving," he says without hesitation, as he followed with paying homage to one of the younger players on the team.

"Raymond Maples improved a lot. He put on some muscle and got a little faster. He's running technique is a little better now."

Another of the young brigade was Lyle Beloney. "He made some nice improvements. He's footwork had gotten better in those 5-6 weeks."

Wide receiver Anthony Stephens is player who positive upside, but is still not 100% which has impacted some of his measurable. "He did well in what he could do, but limited due to the hamstring he hurt during the Armed Forces Bowl practices," Gerch says. "He has the athletic frame and I'm hoping to see a lot more improvement if he is healthy this next 6 weeks."

Speaking of injury … Gerch was able to shed some light on starting quarterback Trent Steelman's recovery status.

"He's been rehabbing the whole winter," he says. "He comes in and works out six times a week. He's able to do one arm right now and then legs. He kills his legs every day … we have a sheet for him, but he goes above and beyond that … he'll just start doing extra stuff.

"Him and A.J. Mackey actually were competing quite a bit here to see who could do the most reps and weight with their legs. Which was good for them to go at it … two injured guys going at it," says a chuckling Grech. "At least they had some to compete after."

I think he (Steelman) should be good once he returns from spring break. Not totally good, but he has the sling off for awhile and I think he's starting to throw this week.

And A.J.'s cast is either off now or should be off when he returns. He is currently at the 260 pound mark. This is probably killing him, because he hasn't been able to lift upper body since after the Air Force game and then hurt his wrist during the Navy game.

"When he hurt his shoulder (AF game) he was still able lift a little, but had some pain, so he was limited. Right now he's just doing legs only and when the cast comes off he should be good next week. He's up to 260 now and busting his hump in legs and once he starts doing upper body, he should be up about Gann's size about 270… I don't see that as a problem.

Then there's the other Mackey. There is no surprise that defensive end Jarrett Mackey received glowing reviews and should be mainstay up front. "He is a beast and he's pretty strong, he says of the 225 pound defensive end.

Along with the Mackey's there have been two other sets of brothers that have caught Gerch's attention.

"The Watts brothers are doing well," he says. "Zach is not where I would like him to be. He started the winter at 207 pounds and now at about 210 right now and I would like to get him to 215 pounds."

"Both the Crockett's are really good athletes," says Gerch as he references Jordan and Julian Crockett. The y both have great feet and work extremely hard."

S&C is not limited to skilled positions or the linemen, as Gerch attest to when speaking of the Black Knights' kicking game.

"Eric Olsten has a leg on him and I don't think he will have a problem getting the ball in the end zone."


Just when the staff has probably worked the seasoned vets into an effective S&C routine, the program will have some newbies on the block, as the prospects from the prep school make their way on campus in late June.

Of course the yearly challenge for the new kids on the block is that from the time they report to August football camp they will be faced Beast.

The plus side is that they will have Mass Athletics which blocks off approximately two hours to get away from military training and transition their way to the football program.

Roughly three times per week, the coaching staff will take them and introduce them to the beginning circuit of practice or sometimes Gerch and his crew will get them to teach the basic aspects of the weight room. This will allow the prepsters to get the technique down and get acclimated to what is expected out of them in the weight room, so by the time they get here in August then they will have a decent idea of the technique that Gerch expects.


According to Gerch, Nate Combs who took over for injured Andrew Rodriguez to kick off the 2010, only to be lost for the season to his own knee injury is ahead of his rehab schedule. The junior out of Indiana makes his way in six times per week. He was 215 pounds last year and currently hits the scales at 225.

Josh Jackson, Brian Cobbs, Tyler Martin, EJ Tucker are all participating in track and hence more involved in abbreviated S&C.

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