Spring football begins in two days, which means Mississippi State’s players are nearing the end of their quality time with the strength and conditioning staff. We caught up with head strength coach Matt Balis this morning to talk about the offseason and several players.
I have video below of Balis talking about the offseason work, defensive end Preston Smith, defensive tackle Quay Evans and other young players. You’ll have to forgive the camera positioning – I have this new tripod, still trying to figure it out. Because I’m not very smart.
I have some more thoughts from Balis below the video. Enjoy.
Who are some guys who stepped up during offseason work?
“I think Jamerson Love did a really solid job. He’s got to come up and fill in for two phenomenal players as you know. So I thought he stepped up and made his presence known, which we have to have. Preston Smith is another guy that did that. Ferlando Bohanna is a guy that stuck out to me. You know, we’ve got a lot of great linebackers right now with Deontae Skinner and Benardrick McKinney who is a young guy, he came back and attacked it again. So the linebackers I thought did a really good job this offseason.
“And those DBs. Like I said, they’re young. But Love sticks out to me as a guy that came; Jay Hughes is another guy who did a really good job.”
A lot of guys redshirted, after a full year what do you see?
“Those are a talented group of guys. And those are good, hardworking kids. They’re all kids I think that will do real well here. Coach (Dan) Mullen and his staff did a great job recruiting great, talented players. And in our program because of the demands of effort, the demands of toughness, and what we do with their bodies, pretty much either they’re going to get better or they’re going to get worse. You’re not ever going to stay the same in our program. All of those kids have gotten better, they’re all on their way I think to great things. I know our coaches really think the same thing. They’re all talented, they’re all willing to work, they’re all willing to get after it.”
For players who might change positions, is this a key time to change their bodies?
“It just depends on again how they’re going to be able to play and how their bodies react while they play. What we do, we’re a lean-body mass type of program. What I mean by that is we want to keep lean-body mass on the guys. We’re not looking to lose muscle, we’re not looking to increase weight just to put weight on. So if you’re changing to a position that requires you to be heavier then we want to make sure we do that with lean body mass. If you’re moving to a position that requires you to be leaner then we don’t want to lose muscle, we want to lose body fat.
“So those are the things that we talk about with guys now. And when they go out to spring ball and they compete then they’ll come back and say yes, this helped me. The lean body mass I gained was effective for me, I can still move, I’m still explosive, I still feel strong. The weight I’ve gained didn’t affect my speed or the weight I’ve lost didn’t affect my strength.”
How has receiver Michael Carr been working?
“You know, he’s always been a good worker, I think, consistency and sticking with it. I think he’s in better shape because he’s been more consistent. Where you’ve seen him really improve is the consistency in his conditioning now. I think he’s going to have a really good spring.”
How has defensive tackle Nick James’ weight settled, has he met the target?
“He’s on his way, developing. He’s potentially a star, a superstar. He’s just got to continue working, keep getting better. And he is, he’s shown improvements. Before we left he was in the low 340s. He’s a big guy, he’s explosive, he moves well. His thing isn’t so much weight as it is being in shape and lean body mass. The weight will come.”
With QB Dak Prescott out injured and focusing on getting ready for fall, what have you seen from him?
“He’s got to get healthy. He’ll be OK, he just has to get healthy. He’s an awesome kid, he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure he’s ready to go and we’ll help him, and our trainers.”