AMES — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell brought in Dave Andrews to be the program’s new strength and conditioning coach after last season.
Campbell believes the strength and conditioning coach is just as important as an offensive or defensive coordinator in a college football program.
Andrews’ introduction to Iowa State was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic so the new strength and conditioning coach had to adapt.
“You’ve got to think for coach Andrews, this has probably not been the easiest way to come in as a strength and condition coach,” Campbell said. “He’s trying to lead for three months over the summer virtually and on the phone. But (he) and his staff did an incredible job. It’s been really enjoyable to be able to watch him navigate through this tough and trying time. He’s had to be able to think outside the box.
“You have to have a great partner to do that with and Dave has certainly been that for (me) and I think our kids have certainly reaped the benefits of having his leadership within our walls.”
When the players left for spring break — when the pandemic shut everything down — Andrews sat down with his staff and Campbell to come up with a plan on how to make sure the players stayed in shape and continued to build good fitness habits.
They had to remind themselves that not every player is going to have a level playing field. Local gyms were closed. Some players might have home gyms, others might have free weights and a treadmill and others might not have much of anything.
They had to make a plan for each individual and the equipment they had available.
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“Our plan started with this in mind: No. 1, be simple and No. 2, engage,” Campbell said. “The simplicity piece of it is what you said — everybody has different things and equipment. Whatever plan that we had, we had to be really simple with the plan at hand. We had to have the plan so we could measure growth. I think Dave, his staff and myself were really able to think that through.”
Campbell actually thought the process of making specific plans for players and their equipment was enjoyable.
“No. 2, the engagement, if you asked what’s the best thing we had the ability to do? And that was to engage,” Campbell said. “For a good portion of the quarantine, whether it was the strength coaches or the team staff, we were able to touch base on a daily basis. It was critical for us to check in on their physical health and their mental health. That’s our job.”
The whole staff made sure to contact the players daily to talk with them and talk through any questions they had — whether it was about strength and conditioning or something more personal.
“What do you understand, what don’t you understand? Maybe you found or got some equipment and how do you implement those into your workout? We pretty much tailored everything to the individual needs of almost every one of our players,” Campbell said. “A lot of credit, a lot of time and a lot of effort went into the entire plan. We wouldn’t be where we’re at today without the strength and conditioning staff’s time and effort.”
A prime example of Andrews’ tailored plans is quarterback Brock Purdy, who dealt with ankle injuries all last season.
Andrews gave Purdy a plan on how to strengthen his ankles.
“When coach Andrews got here, he had me do his program of ligament stretches and stuff and I was able to strengthen up my ankle — that was huge,” Purdy said. “He did that really fast. It took a couple weeks but it was faster than we expected. For me, personally, I feel great, I feel fast and feel flexible now.
“Having him and his staff here has been a great improvement and a blessing. It’s the best I’ve ever felt in my playing career.”
Purdy isn’t the only Cyclone in the best shape.
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Defensive end JaQuan Bailey missed most of last season with a leg injury. He’s 100 percent healthy now and had a good three months in Jacksonville, Fla. — his home.
“People that follow us and cover our football program know the kind of player that JaQuan Bailey is,” Campbell said. “I will tell you that JaQuan’s come back in the best shape I’ve ever seen Jaquan in. He’s a guy that worked tremendously hard while he was at home. He came back better than he left us and after four weeks, he’s in the best shape of his life. That doesn’t surprise me.”
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