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Inside this mornings 5 a.m. winter workouts at the Duffy:

Spartans getting “tough” with 5 a.m. workouts!

I was at the Duffy this morning to watch the 5 a.m. workouts and trust me: it was refreshing. I recently spoke at a function with Coach Dantonio and he told the crowd the should be at practice, so I took him up on it. I was not disappointed!   I saw wrestling and running and even some nice “love” taps. The highlight had to be watching coach Narduzzi get so fired up that I personally thought he was going to jump into a drill and kill someone.

I asked Otis “BLING BLING” Wiley after practice how things have changed and his brutally honest answer reflected what I have been hearing from other guys: “I think that we are learning about being accountable, about being a team. We are a lot more of a team now. We hurt and we are sore but I love that. I am a football player. I want to hurt and I like that this team already is so tough, I can’t wait to see where we are come season.”

Dantonio couldn’t hide his jubilation with a constant smile the whole practice. Do you win games in February coach? “I don’t know if you win or lose games, (pause) but they certainly begin in February.” When he was asked what are the benefits of these winter workouts Dantonio summed it up with “…it just helps everyone get to know who everyone is, players and coaches, I even have a name tag on today, and everyone has a name tag on. There are no identities out here, everybody has to build their own.” No stars, no prima donnas and no one gets coddled. In the past you would see guys with an ankle sprain sitting out. Not anymore. Toughness is in style at the Duffy.

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Strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie was his usual nail eating self (a style that fits with this staff when it didn’t with the past) “I am not happy right now, but come back in August and I can tell you then if I am happy. Many of the things you saw us do out here are old school, but old school is in session. Old school is good school…beat, battered bruised and bloody…it brings out aggressiveness and intensity which is what were looking for!

I am well aware that games aren’t won here. I do believe that they can be lost. If what I saw this morning was any indication of what this program is becoming, it was refreshing and exciting.

All next week we will have an in depth report (all five nights) on the news (Hondo’s Highlights at 6:15) looking inside winter workouts. The drills, the players and the change of a culture! Don’t miss it.