CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — “Get your mind right.” That message has been the motto for Illinois Football this season. It was coined by Illinois Head Strength and Conditioning coach Lou Hernandez who helped the Illini reach success on the field by challenging them in the weight room.
“Get your mind right, that’s our philosophy in this weight room,” says Hernandez. “We only want 1 hour of your time, but it better be locked in a focused”
Focus in Hernandez’s weight room is now at an all-time high, as he prepares the Illinois football team to for their first bowl-game win since 2011.
“To get to where we haven’t been before, we have to do something we haven’t done before,” says Hernandez. “Was it just effort, or did we give bowl-effort?”
That kind of effort showed itself in some of their toughest moments this season, including a 25-point comeback against Michigan State, that secured bowl-eligibility for the team.
“Good teams continue to get better, bad teams just go home,” says Hernandez. “It was great to see that our guys we’re still fighting, and still pushing.”
“He preaches staying locked in even when you’re always tired,” says junior offensive lineman Alex Palczewski. “That’s one thing he always has us do, and just keeping us locked in the entire time, that helped us to much this year.”
The physical side certainly helped as well. Several players gained recognition on Lou’s wall of milestones, like reaching speeds over 20 miles per hour, or lifting more than 1,000 pounds for a squat, power-clean and bench press combined.
“The best time for me, is everything leading up to it, the workouts, the conditioning, the skills and drills,” says Hernandez. “And then they get that big prize at the end.”
The prize this season will be a thirteenth game, when the Illini travel to Santa Clara, CA to compete in the Redbox Bowl on December 30th.