If you watched last season's Fiesta Bowl, you noticed how much quicker the defensive linemen for West Virginia looked compared to Oklahoma's offensive line. Was it attributable to recruiting? Certainly that's a part of the equation. You can't sign a ChrisApplewhite and expect him to play corner. Coaching? Of course. Putting a player in the right position can make him faster than he actually is.
But perhaps the biggest reason was West Virginia's strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis. He followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan, and he's already changing the way things have been done in Ann Arbor. This Detroit Free Press article on Barwis is worth reading.
Barwis says the key to football is being able to change direction quickly. "If I can put my body in the optimal position to generate the greatest force and power and to change direction in the quickest time," says Barwis. "I don't always have to be the fastest player."
He's right. That's why coaches look for fast twitch guys in recruiting. That's why some 300 pounders play offensive guard while others are able to play defensive tackle.
Michigan's players have always had reputations as slow-footed buffoons. When senior corner Morgan Trent says he never stretched as part of a football-sanctioned workout, you can begin to understand why.
It's not always about working harder. Sometimes you just have to work smarter.
And yeah, he's pretty intense.