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Ohio State vs. Nebraska, 9.28

Nebraska head strength coach Zach Duval prepares the team during pre-game warmups before taking on Ohio State on Sept. 28 at Memorial Stadium.

You bet Zach Duval has a vision for what his new work space will look like.

In fact, "I know exactly what it needs to look like," the Nebraska football strength coach said Thursday night in reference to the weight room that will be part of the new Husker athletics facility project scheduled for completion in 2022.

Speaking on the "Sports Nightly" radio program, Duval said Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost's overall plan requires "the right bells and whistles and the amount of space you need to get the right amount of guys in and train them appropriately, but also have some of the scientific bells and whistles that you need both in-season and off-season -- and especially because weather is part of what we have to deal with during winter conditioning."

Duval, who came to Nebraska with Frost from Central Florida in early 2018, provided some insight into why his work area will be bigger in the new facility.

"Obviously, you have the indoor (field)," he said of the Hawks Championship Center. "But we're adding some stuff actually in the weight room to help deal with some of the running and the power, and the translating of the strength and power into movements."

Nebraska officials are deep into the planning stages for the $155 million, 350,000-square-foot project, which was formally announced in September. At that time, NU athletic director Bill Moos and other university and football representatives spoke only in generalities about the plans to create more space for Frost’s program, which currently sports a roster of 154 players and could grow to as large as 170 in coming years. It currently occupies a space designed for a roster closer to 110.

A recent preliminary project proposal for the Board of Regents provided a guideline to just how much more space the Huskers will have in their future home. For instance, Nebraska’s current weight room in North Stadium checks in at about 17,000 square feet. The proposal listed more than 31,000 square feet — and perhaps up to 38,000 square feet — for the weight room and related space.

"It'll be very spectacular, I can promise you that," Duval said.

The proposal also called for part of the first floor of the current North Stadium complex to be reworked for sports medicine and training areas to be used by all sports except football. The new football operations center will feature medical and training space for Frost’s program.

Regarding the current training-room space, "You can go in there at any time throughout the day and there's definitely not enough room," Duval said.

The disciple of legendary Nebraska strength coach Boyd Epley added, "One of the biggest memories I had of Husker Power and Boyd and the west stadium was it was the premier training facility in the country. I mean, you had pro sports coming from overseas to check it out. AC Milan came over, and different schools throughout the country."

Nebraska, in moving forward with the project, essentially is staying up with the times with the different forms of technology that'll be part of it, said Duval, mentioning as an example new ways to monitor sleep.

"There's a lot of stuff -- I don't want to give it all away," he said. "But you need space. The way (university leaders) have pitched this is it'll be premier and we'll be at the top once again."

He also shed some light on what he and his staff encountered upon arriving at Nebraska and starting training work with players in the winter of 2018. Too many Husker players at that point were increasing fat and decreasing muscle mass, he said, noting it should be opposite of that.

In addition, Duval said, too many Husker players weren't ready for a metabolic circuit, which he describes as "36 minutes of grueling work."

"We had to make an adjustment on that (in early 2018) because they just weren't ready for that type of work load, but more so that type of intensity," he said. "So that's something we're working through with these guys. You've got to re-establish some baselines and get some trends moving in the other direction.

"But they've had a great two winter conditioning sessions. The first one was kind of getting back up to par. The last one, we made some hay. But you've got to keep stacking these off-seasons on top of each other."

He reiterated something Frost has mentioned on a few occasions -- that is, eventually releasing to news outlets the results of Nebraska's performance-index testing in the off-season, a common occurrence in the program in the 1990s. 

"That is probably one of the best ways of increasing competition, and competition fixes everything," Duval said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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