Zach Duval/Twitter
Nebraska head strength coach Zach Duval has a specific method to get the best out of his athletes.

Nebraska football mailbag: What is Zach Duval’s method of strength and conditioning?

Have Nebraska football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Nebraska mailbag to talk all things Huskers. This week, we discuss Nebraska strength coach Zach Duval’s methods, proposed changes to college football by the NCAA, and more.

This is going to be a long answer, so settle in.

When it comes to understanding Nebraska head strength coach Zach Duval and how he works, I like to look at the words of former Huskers assistant strength coach Jamie Belt. Belt, who worked under former Nebraska strength coach Mark Philipp, has worked with Duval before. He spent several years working under Duval at XPlosive Edge in Omaha.

Belt, who now works for world boxing champion Terence “Bud” Crawford of Omaha, told Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star what makes Duval so good at what he does.

“I don’t want to get into it too much, but Zach’s an old-school Husker Power guy,” Belt said. “Put it this way: He’s the right man for this job right now. He’s going to bring back a lot of things that Nebraska was doing when it had that dominating culture in the mid-90s.”

Beyond that, Belt described Duval as a strong relationship-builder and “an intrinsic coach.” That allows Duval to get to know each athlete individually and create customized workout plans.

There’s also the speed factor, which is what Nebraska coach Scott Frost needs to make his program work. According to Belt, Duval is the man who taught him that “speed is built in the weight room.”

Duval’s method will mirror former Nebraska strength and conditioning coach Boyd Epley’s program quite a bit. After all, he’s more than familiar with Epley as his father Rick was an assistant during Tom Osborne’s first two years as Nebraska’s head coach. Epley also said Duval is bringing Husker Power back to the weight room. That includes the way players are lifting (and on specific equipment), as well as a focus on speed.

That’s why Duval was so successful in helping transform someone like former Central Florida outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin. He tapped into what made players like Griffin tick and focused on it. Plus, he put innovative techniques to good use and required healthy sleep patterns from the players. With years of information and data, Duval is able to sit down with each player individually and get a better feel for each of their stories.

That attention to individual players paid dividends at UCF, and quickly. That’s the method Duval will bring to Nebraska, and the hope is that similar gains will be made just as quickly by the Huskers. He’s already seen some major improvement. According to Duval, East Mississippi Community College transfer Mike Williams went from 160 pounds to 171 in the first month of workouts.

Those types of numbers are a great sign, and a testament to Duval’s methods. However, the 2018 season will be the ultimate testing point for what Duval and his Husker Power approach can do for Nebraska.

Funny you should ask, because the NCAA Football Rules Committee announced a slew of new proposals last week. The committee presented a proposal that would allow the receiving team on a kickoff to fair catch the ball inside the 25-yard line, having it result in a touchback. That probably was the most notable proposal of the bunch.

Other changes might include:

  • Changes to blocks below the waist
  • Prohibiting offensive players from throwing blocks below the waist more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and all blocks below the waist being from the front
  • Having the play clock get reset to 40 seconds following touchdowns and kickoffs
  • A 10-second run-off in the final minute of each half if replay reverses an incorrect call that stopped the clock

There is also the redshirt rule, which would allow NCAA football players to appear in any four games in a season and still be eligible for a redshirt year. To top it off, the NCAA is evaluating the transfer rules to see if there are opportunities for change there.

Nothing is official as these proposals have to head to the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. From there it will all be discussed on a conference call next month. A lot could change before anything becomes official, but I’m going to assume there will be some changes before the start of the season.

I am not a bracketologist by any means, but I feel like it has to. Right? And I’ve seen all the predictions. Most people do not have the Huskers getting in at this point, but Haslam Metrics’ Erik Haslam has Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament field.

Coach Tim Miles has also made his case, telling the Big Ten Network that Nebraska is in. I wouldn’t expect him to say anything else, but I’m a fan of him really doubling down on this. He should be doing that.

I would assume Nebraska losing to the Big Ten Tournament champion would have a positive effect, but we’ll see soon enough.

Why not both? Plenty of teams use the more formal mascot name, as well as a more informal name. I think about the Louisville Cardinals who also go by Cards. Creighton is the Bluejays, but they often use Jays (although, I’m not sure I’m allowed to mention Creighton on a Nebraska website).

I don’t think Nebraska has to be all-in on one or the other. You can use both independently based on the situation. Helmets? I think Huskers works best on the bumper. T-shirts? It can be interchangeable, allowing fans to enjoy whichever they prefer.

In my time covering Nebraska, I’ve seen both Cornhuskers and Huskers used (sometimes in the same media piece). It sort of feels like fixing something that isn’t necessarily broken.

Oh, I know the old-school Herbie of whom you speak. He’s this guy, holding a football with a big red hat on his head and giving us all the A-OK sign. I know he’s preferred by many over the newer Herbie in his blue jeans and red polo shirt.

I’m pretty impartial. If Nebraska wants to go back to the old Herbie, fine by me. If Nebraska keeps the new Herbie, also fine by me. All I ask is that we don’t bring back the corn man.

Have a question about Nebraska football? Tweet us @Landof10Huskers, and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Nebraska football mailbags here.