CHARLOTTE — Toward the end of the regular season last year, Wake Forest’s football team took on something of a whatever-it-takes mentality to reach a bowl game despite being ravaged by injuries.
Now, the Deacons approach a new season with the same tag line, but this time it means preventing injuries.
“We’ve looked at some of the breaks, we’ve looked at what we do in bye weeks, and we’re approaching it with, I think, a much more scientific approach of really how we’re restructuring our training camp,” Coach Dave Clawson said Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff media days.
“I’ve spent so much time on this the last six weeks to two months with our strength staff, and we’ve completely redesigned how we’re doing training camp and practice. And even the structure of an individual practice. I had experts look at it, and I said, ‘Tear it apart, be critical of it. What can we do to keep us injury free?’”
Clawson promised to provide more details later, after the Deacons begin fall camp.
But for now, what we know is the past few months afforded Clawson the time to do something he pledged to do since the closing days of the 2018 season: Dive into the data of Wake Forest’s injury-riddled season in which 13 players sustain season-ending injuries.
That Clawson was eager to compile such numbers isn’t surprising.
“Coach Clawson, you know, he’s a computer. He’s a research guy, he knows a lot about a lot,” senior running back Cade Carney said. “And if there’s anything to get better with, whether it’s nutrition this offseason — which we’ve really invested in — or tracking our condition level and being smart about where we want to be, conditioning, he’s going to do that, he’s going to take advantage of that.”
Shifting the Deacons’ training strategies has already begun. Throughout the summer, players have gone through workouts designed to build up to the start of fall camp.
“So this summer session, we’ve built up a condition level. And we’re where we would be regardless, but we got there a smarter way,” Carney said.
In the past year, a few Wake Forest players have donned undershirts that track movement levels throughout practice. Think of them as technologically advanced tank tops. Most of the running backs have worn them, and senior linebacker Justin Strnad wore them, too. The number of Deacons wearing them in fall camp is going to increase, though.
“We’re going to have like 50 guys wear them this year. So (Clawson has) met with the headquarters and the people that developed them and really has planned out the first whole week of practice from a rep perspective and a time perspective as to how long we’re out on the field and how long we’re doing certain things,” Strnad said. “It’s said to have improved some teams’ injuries big time. Looking forward to that, we could use anything we can get.”