According to Urban Meyer, the S&C coach is the most important hire on a football staff. Most often its the toughest and most physical team that wins championships. Alabama clearly embodies that. So does Stanford out west. Oregon under Chip Kelly may not have always had the biggest guys but they were always the most well conditioned team and their offensive prowess relied on the run game. If Washington returns to glory in the years ahead, Tim Socha will get a lot of credit. When asked about Socha a few years ago, Chris Petersen, a man who isn’t known to give praise, called Socha the best S&C coach in the country.
Socha has been with UW for only 2+ years but his impact is noticeable. Heading into last season, UW had to replace four starters from the DL including two All-Americans. Yet the replacements, Tani Toupou, Elijah Qualls and Greg Gaines had good seasons and showed excellent promise. Toupou went from being a total afterthought on the depth chart to somehow 2nd team all conference. Heading into this season Qualls and Gaines are certain to be on preseason all conference lists.
Moreover, just take a look at the size and weight gain of the current defensive lineman. Specifically, Jaylen Johnson and Shane Bowman. Johnson was solid in a backup role last season and is expected to start alongside Qualls and Gaines. He went from 260 to 285 while Bowman, who also showed as a freshman last season gained 17 lbs to 290.
I went to the UW pro-day for current players and the one player who stood out most was Myles Rice. He signed with UW a year ago but delayed his enrollment until January 2016. He was an OLB and was listed anywhere from 215 to 225 lbs. Now he’s 6’4 and 246 lbs. I hope Myles Rice can push for time this year behind JoJo Mathis and Tevis Bartlett, while supplanting unanimous 2016 doog favorite and backup Psalm Wooching.
Look for more results from Socha in the offensive lineman during the 2016 season. Collectively, the OL improved as last season matured. The biggest improvement should be in the dinasour-sized bookends, Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary who tip the scales at 6’8 306 and 6’7 300. McGary noted on Twitter that he was starting to get a six pack.
When Petersen was hired, Dave Softy Mahler of KJR asked Petros Papadakis, former USC player and current media guy who has correctly bemoaned the death of husky football from what he personally experienced as an adversary back in the 1990s, if Petersen would be able to recruit. Petros laughed at Softy and quipped that Petersen had an SEC DL at Boise. However, that was not because Boise was getting blue chip DL recruits. The recruits were being developed by Socha along with assistant coaches Jeff Choate and Pete Kwatkowski.
Socha’s effectiveness is not surprising considering he has the perfect background to be the head S&C coach. He was an OL in college at U of Minnesota. He earned his degree in kinesiology with a minor in coaching. Then he earned a masters in exercise physiology. His coaching career began as a student assistant in the weight room at Minnesota. He has been a head S&C since 2006 at Boise State. So he has 10 years of experience as a head S&C coach with 5+ years as an assistant.
Let’s compare that to UW’s previous S&C coach and current USC S&C coach Ivan Lewis. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a masters in leadership studies. Neither revolves around S&C, like both of Socha’s degrees. Furthermore, when Lewis came to UW he had never been a head S&C coach before.
To be fair to Ivan he was named the 2013 Samson Equipment/American Football Monthly FBS Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.
However, the eye test of UW teams under Ivan and Sark revealed little in the way of S&C progress. One thought lingers in my mind. All-world TE Austin Seferian Jenkins showing up to 2013 fall camp about 280 lbs, then not much more than a month later dropping a critical pass over the middle that would have brought UW that much closer to beating a top 5 Stanford team on the road, which would have been UW’s best road win in about 20 years and best overall win since the 2000 Rose Bowl or victory over Miami in 2000.
Moreover, UW experienced a rash of injuries under Ivan. I can recall a handful of knee injuries in the 2012 season. By the way this is repeating itself now at USC as they’ve had key injuries over the past 18 months. It was just announced that DL Kenny Bigelow is out for the year because of a torn ACL.
I should note that when Socha came to UW, they pretty much got rid of all the equipment and brought in new equipment.
To again be fair to Ivan, maybe the problem was from the top down. Sark was sloppy and fat during the end of his tenure and had been known to coddle star players while not giving a shit about the rest of the roster. Assistant coaches are usually more effective under a better head coach.
Anyway, the point is its clear to see the importance of S&C and Socha is a big-time S&C coach who is already having a positive impact. The past cry of doogs was “Wait until Ivan gets A-Hold of Him,” a reference to the ability of Lewis to physically transform the young incoming guys. To that I say, “Wait until Socha Gets A-Hold of Him.”
For another take on S&C and Socha, read what former UW DL Donny Mateaki has to say.