Turning up the heat: Humidity also a concern as Mavs get closer to two-a-days

A group of Mesa State football players runs some burners during Thursday morning’s conditioning exercises. The Mavs are working out in the morning to stay out of the heat of the day.

Quarterback Jason Haferman and the Mavs are practicing early in the morning to avoid the heat, but they will have to get used to hot weather when practice starts Aug. 11

Dan Linsacum isn’t worried about the conditioning factor when football practice begins Aug. 11 at Mesa State College, which by then will officially be Colorado Mesa University.

The Mavericks’ strength and conditioning coach is more concerned with the conditions in the atmosphere, specifically the humidity that found its way to western Colorado this summer and decided to stick around.

“Living here, you never really think about it as an issue,” he said. “It’s a lot different. It’s amazing how much rain we’ve gotten this summer.”

Linsacum grew up in Craig and played football at Mesa. He knows how to handle dry heat.

This humidity is a whole new ballgame.

“We don’t have a lot of experience with it,” he said. “We’re going off what we believe is the right way to handle it. Have we experienced it firsthand? No, we haven’t. I’ve lived in Colorado most of my life.”

Linsacum doesn’t think the Mavericks will have a problem with heavier air and heat, but there’s an underlying problem.

“That humidity sticks around, they don’t feel they need water,” Linsacum said. “We’ll remind them that every time you have a chance, get a shot of water, every time, and in between drink tons of it.

“Eighty percent of muscle is water. If you’re not hydrated, your muscle is not going to work. It’s going to be like beef jerky and that’s when tears happen and we start getting pulls.”

Coach Joe Ramunno said some of his players have reminded him how Grand Junction was described as a dry heat during the recruiting process. This summer has been anything but that.

Linsacum tells the players to drink at least a gallon and a half of water every day. He wants them to continue to drink that much — or more — during camp, especially if the relative humidity keeps climbing.

The training staff has set up a covered area adjacent to the practice field in case a player gets overheated and they need to get him into the shade.

A core group of about 30 players have worked out in Grand Junction all summer, and the numbers are climbing the closer camp gets. Thursday, about 40 players were in the weight room at 6 a.m.

After their weight session, they headed out to the practice field for conditioning with Linsacum, then ran 7-on-7 drills.

Their workout ended at 8 a.m., well before the heat — and clouds — built up in the Grand Valley. They all dutifully had large plastic bottles or jugs of water on hand.

“We’ll be able to feel it when we start up camp in two weeks,” junior quarterback Robert Felberg said of the heat and humidity. “We’re done for the day now, we’re out of the heat and it’s kind of nice.”

The Mavs will feel the heat during two-a-days, although the NCAA has taken numerous steps to prevent heat-related problems by limiting the number of full-contact practices the first week of camp.

On days the Mavs have two practices, the morning session will run from 8:30 until about 11 a.m., with another workout in the heat of the day, from 3-6 p.m.

Other than the voluntary morning workouts, many of the players will lift again a couple of afternoons a week or do some extra conditioning.

“We’re running after we lift and after that we have conditioning running,” junior quarterback Michael Mankoff said. “We realize we have to be in shape for this new offense.”

The linemen are working as hard as ever, knowing the challenges they face.

“It’s high tempo, intense,” junior offensive lineman Trevor Stapp said. “We’ve been moving all summer. Defenses aren’t going to know what hit them by the third quarter.”

Linsacum has tailored conditioning drills to be more than just 20-yard sprints because of the new offense.

“We try to do more sprints with some kind of upper-body motion in it,” he said. “We’ll do a burpie (hit the ground chest-first, in a push-up position, then pop back up to your feet) into a sprint so we get our whole body into conditioning, not just our legs.

“That crosses over. If they fall down on the ground, they’ve got to get back up and go. They have to be at full speed.”

And they have to be at full speed all the time, since they’re planning to run a no-huddle offense.

“We’re gonna have two-a-days, we’re going to be in the heat of the day, like it or not,” Stapp said, adding the players always hope for some cloud cover in the afternoon instead of bluebird skies and blazing sun.

“That never seems to happen during practice time, though.”


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