Yes, talk is cheap. It's what you do on the field that counts. Brandon Boykin is quick to agree with that.
But while he understands many in the Bulldog Nation are taking a "show me" attitude toward the upcoming college football season, the Bulldogs' senior cornerback said the vibe around Butts-Mehre is he and his Georgia teammates will be able to do just that.
"We know it ultimately depends on us and how we play. I think last year was a reflection of that," Boykin said of last year's 6-7 campaign. "We had a lot of people coming back and a lot of people thought we were going to be contenders and it came down to us making plays at the end of games here and there. We know what we have to do; we're confident in what we can do. We have the ability; it just comes down to us doing it instead of talking about it."
The SEC media apparently believes the Bulldogs have a chance to bounce back.
Georgia was picked to finish second in the SEC East behind South Carolina, with 38 media members predicting that the Bulldogs will be able to claim the division crown.
"I know this. I know if you walk in the Butts-Mehre Building, there's not one sense of doom or gloom. There's only excitement, only guys that are so thankful that we've got a new season and a clean slate and the ability to play some great opponents to start the year. The expectations are just as high as they've been going into a season," head coach Mark Richt said. "Our goal is to win the Eastern Division. That's just the way we think every single season. We've believe we've got just as good a chance as anybody to do that."
But Boykin said there is one aspect that's different about this year's Georgia squad and it starts with the change that took place in late December when Richt named Joe Tereshinski as the program's new strength and conditioning coach.
Boykin said Tereshinski didn't waste any time with his attempt to change the culture inside the walls at Butts-Mehre.
Just a week after the team returned from their disgraceful defeat to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl, Tereshinski put his program into effect.
"That's when we started training and conditioning for that fourth quarter, being able to sustain our whole energy. I think that is something Coach T implemented in January and carried out throughout spring and the summer because that's when games are lost and won," Boykin said. "I think that is what we're trying to bring back."
Quarterback Aaron Murray suggested other changes have taken place as well.
Although players may have talked a good game going into 2010, that apparently wasn't the case.
"As a team I feel we are ahead of where we were last year. Last year I would call meetings and drills and some guys would show up, some guys wouldn't. This year it's been one big movement. Everyone's showing up for workouts, to do drills, our 7-on-7 workouts. Everyone is a lot more focused this year and seem a lot more determined," Murray said. "When you go 6-7 you put things in a little different perspective. Guys are working their tails off. We might have lost a guy here or there but everyone has been working so hard I feel good putting anybody out there."
Players understand the changes Tereshinski has made within the strength and conditioning program will ultimately be judged on how the team performs on the field.
Still, Boykin said players can certainly feel the difference as far as their bodies are concerned.
"I would not say it is a radical change, but I'd say he is taking a different approach as far as the type of lifts that we do. I wouldn't say people are complaining, it's just a different feel to your body. You've been doing something for three years and then change it; people are going to have a different feeling," Boykin said. "But once you start seeing the result and the way you're now conditioned, I mean, everybody bought into it. It's amazing how much people's bodies have transformed."
According to Boykin, Tereshinski's program isn't simply about seeing how many reps on the bench press a player is able to do.
"Running around the track doing speed drills, running hills, tires, sleds, anything you can think of, they've implemented it all," Boykin said. "I was running around the track with Aaron and Arthur Lynch and Arthur is probably like 150 pounds heavier than I am and he was like a couple of steps behind me so just seeing how much shape he's gotten into his amazing."
Weekly stadium runs have also been part of the weekly routine.
"Once a week, we usually do a morning run, usually on Fridays," Boykin said. "We'll run to the stadium, run through the stadium and then run back. It's pretty nice, running with your team throughout campus, your shirt off - the girls like it, you know?"
Although Boykin was only half-kidding, the sting of last year's season remains quite painful and is ready to show the Bulldog Nation that lessons learned during last year's debacle will pay off, beginning with the season-opener against Boise State.
"When you're bench pressing, trying to get that final rep, that's what I'm thinking about. You've got Coach T yelling, 'Boise State in 45 days', or whatever it is, we're yelling and getting pumped up. It's going to be an awesome game. I'm excited. The whole team is excited. I wish it was next week. I think we're ready to go. I think you can put us on the field right now and we'd be ready to play them. We're that pumped up for the game."
Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]