“It's a great transition,” Bak said about the changes to Gopher football. “They're good coaches, and they've ramped up the intensity.”
Bak and his teammate used to run two to three 300-yard sprints in practice under former Gophers coach Tim Brewster.
Under new Gophers coach, Jerry Kill and his coaching staff, they have been running 12 to 14 of those sprints in workouts. Bak, a red-shirted freshman, sees it as one of the many promising changes for the Gophers.
“Our workouts are harder and we're learning more,” Bak said. “They have more requirements, and they are expecting more of us.”
Bak described the practices as fast-paced with the coaches running two to three offensive formations at a time. They will also scrimmage full-speed with pads and full tackling prior to their season opener at the University of Southern California on Sept. 3. Bak said they did not scrimmage like that under Brewster.
“They (the new coaches) really know how to coach,” Bak said. “They know when to be nice and when to be harsh. They're like father figures. They're not here to be our friends.”
Bak anticipates the Gophers will field a significantly better team than last year's 3-9 record. The sluggish season led to the firing of Brewster and bringing Kill aboard this year.
Bak also sees the team becoming stronger as a whole as the standards have been raised under Kill.
“Everyone has gotten a lot closer,” Bak said.
Another change Bak has seen is the academic expectations that Kill's staff has for the players.
“There's no room to slack, so we're going to be putting in the time on studies,” Bak said. “If anyone does not, they won't be getting playing time.”
Bak, a computer science major, will also continue studying a different side of the ball under Kill. The new coach moved Bak from defensive line to offensive line during the spring. Bak was red-shirted last year and he hopes to keep learning from his teammates and see some playing time this year.
Prior to his time with the Gophers, Bak played prep football at Concordia Academy. He earned Tri-Metro All-Conference honors twice and All-Metro honors from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2009.
In addition to the Gophers' changes, Bak is also excited about the changes to the Big Ten with the new divisions and addition of the University of Nebraska. The Gophers host Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 22.
Not only has Bak seen the team morale transform, he has seen it the student body too. He runs into fellow students that want to talk about the team.
“Everyone's asking what coach Kill is like,” Bak said. “They're excited and want the inside scoop.”
Bak and his Gopher teammates began practice on Monday this week. The Gophers will hold a scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 20.