WEST POINT -- Terry Baggett's upper arms are challenging the molecular structure of his football jersey. Yes, his uniform remains in tact, but it's clearly struggling. The 10 pounds of rock-hard muscle he gained in the weight room since last season has left the Army running back in even greater shape than last season, which is saying quite a lot. It was no accident.
Among the priorities first-year head coach Jeff Monken imposed among his players was upgrading their physiques. It's not like many cadets have to fret with diet shakes and Weight Watchers, but if there was one thing this team could do to perhaps give itself one slight edge, that was it. It shows.
"You don't take the spring off," Baggett said. "Among the things you can work on, both alone and as a team, is getting better in shape."
Even a cursory look on the field displays a collection of players that would have done the1972 Soviet Olympic weight-lifting team proud. Of course those guys had an industrial-strength supply of chemical enhancements. Steroids at Army? Not likely.
"These guys just worked and worked hard," Monken said. "Something like putting on muscle is something you work at, and I'm sure there's a certain degree of competitiveness among the players."
If anyone was keeping score Joe Drummond would have certainly been among the leaders. The senior defensive lineman put on 25 pounds, and, no, not from Big Macs. Incredibly, the average muscle gain among players was just under15 pounds per player.
"All weightlifting is is work " Drummond said.
Of course, being better able to wrestle a running back to the ground or keeping your quarterback from being sacked is more than just muscle,
"We're going to continue to work," said Monken, whose team will open its season Sept. 6 against Buffalo at Michie Stadium. "Sometimes just going through spring ball isn't enough and pre-season practice isn't enough. There needs to be improvement everyday throughout the season and I hope we can continue to do that."
Much of that is predicated, Monken said, on players -- many of whom played three years under former coach Rich Ellerson -- picking up a new system from coaches they didn't know existed at this time last year,"
"We're going to have to get better because the other teams are going to get better and certainly some of the teams we're playing are in their second, third, fourth multiple years with the same staff and so certainly, just from a preparation standpoint, they're far ahead in having everything in and for their veterans more of it is review," Monken said. "For our guys, a lot of it is new stuff each day."
"I think in the past we left some things out on the field and this year I think we need to keep our high energy and focus out there," quarterback Angel Santiago said. "Don't get down when the score is down. Football is a long game and anything can happen. That gives us more motivation to get back out there."