ATHENS - John Thomas spent the past two decades working under Joe Paterno, and now sees many similarities between his late boss and Georgia head coach Mark Richt.
Sherman Armstrong gave up a business in Tampa to come to Georgia as a speed coach - and yes, you can teach speed, according to Armstrong.
And their boss, strength and conditioning coordinator Joe Tereshinski, believes the offseason program is on track, but will be bolstered by the additions of Thomas and Armstrong.
Georgia made the above three available for a media session on Tuesday afternoon. Here are some highlights from each:
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- On getting Thomas, who led Paterno's strength program: "I feel like I pulled off the greatest coup ever."
- On how his new staff members fit in with his philosophy: "I'm a strength and endurance guy. I believe in the fourth quarter."
But Armstrong can help with getting players faster in all facets of the game, and Thomas brings along some different ideas.
"We're all three equals in my book," Tereshinki said.
- Speaking of the team overall, Tereshinski said he was happy with the players coming back, then acknowledged the loss of three starters on the offensive line. But he called the returning O-linemen "the hardest-working, most committed bunch" on the team.
- Tereshinski said the revamping of his staff just unfolded that way as previous staff members (Keith Gray, Thomas Brown, Rex Bradberry) left for better positions. He was unsure if hiring specialists like a speed coach would be copied by other programs.
"If we have success, and we're able to do what I hope we can do, there may be some questions as to what we do," Tereshinski said.
- Why mat drills returned: Because he figured out a way to incorporate them in the offseason without taking away from other aspects he felt were important. This year they did mat drills four times, once a week.
Otherwise, the emphasis of the program hasn't changed.
"Our emphasis still is to win the fourth quarter," Tereshinski said.
- On working with Paterno, who passed away earlier this year.
"It was an honor to work with him. To be interviewed by him," Thomas said. "As far as what he has done for me and my family ... I can't say, we'd be here way too long."
- Thomas also admitted that being away from the chaos at Penn State has been "a breath of fresh air."
He also said he sees many comparisons between Paterno and Richt.
"A lot of qualities and characteristics are about the same," he said. "They're very similar."
- Thomas said the transition from leading Penn State's strength program to serving with Tereshinski hasn't been a tough one because he feels like equals with him and Armstrong.
"The 20 years I was at Penn State I never had an ego. I hope I don't get one here," Thomas said.
- Thomas said he has a similar philosophy as Tereshinski, as far as emphasizing the fourth quarter. But he just has a few different ideas.
"We're getting to the same point, just different ways to get there," Thomas said.
- Thomas said he met Tereshinski about six or seven years ago. Earlier this year he was looking for a new job, understandably, and when he got a call from Tereshinski he jumped at it.
- Thomas was asked if he had the same in-your-face mentality as Tereshinski. Laughing, he said perhaps not as much.
"I'm sure there will be days I'm in guy's faces and there'll be days I'm patting them on the back," he said.
- Thomas has told Tereshinski that, in comparison to Penn State players, GEorgia may have a few better athletes "across the board."
- Armstrong spent five weeks last summer working with current Georgia QB Aaron Murray. He has also worked with former Georgia safety Reshad Jones.
- The team will change the summer program to have two days of just speed training.
- So how do you coach speed?
"With every athlete I've been in front of, there's always been something they're doing wrong," Armstrong said. "My job as a professional is to find it."
Armstrong also said that many athletes think they're doing it right because they're so gifted. So the idea is to change that.
- Armstrong will be working with every player, including the linemen. Why the linemen? Their hips and ability to "explode" at the line is vital.
"That's a huge component of our big guys: Hip mobility," Armstrong said.