Letters from Camp: The Bond Ultimatum
Just in case you haven't heard: the new Tar Heel offense is fast. At Monday's practice, there were sometimes as few as 12 seconds from whistle to snap as the offense moved downfield, and it only figures to get quicker.
In order for that offense to run, it has to have a line that can keep up. To keep pace, Travis Bond has undergone a makeover for his senior season. The right guard has taken off nearly 50 pounds from a year ago in preparing to run Coach Blake Anderson's no-huddle offense. "About 325 now," Bond said after practice Monday. This time last year? "About 372."
The process of cutting the weight started with the team's conditioning period before spring practice. Following the conditioning period, Bond and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams would perform another hour's worth of work in the gym, on the treadmill or Stairmaster. Bond even found himself working with a position group more traditionally known for speed. "I actually came out here with the DBs (defensive backs) on Sundays, and I would join their group and just work with them in the sand pit to help me lose more weight. That helped me with my agility, movement, more cutting and being more effective on the field."
The no-huddle offense can be especially tough on the big men, but Bond saw its introduction as a sink or swim opportunity for himself. "It was either this or nothing, because I know I couldn't have played in this offense at 370. So I talked to Coach Kap (offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic), Fedora, they told me, 'You know what you've got to do if you want to be effective and leave a great legacy behind you.' Once they told me that, I just got on my grind." Bond consulted with strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez and the team's nutrition staff to make the necessary changes. "The weight just started coming down," he said. "When we came back from break, I was impressed with my weight. I love it so far. I feel a lot better than I did last year, after practice, and I feel like I can move a lot faster, so it's just fun being out there."
With right tackle Brennan Williams limited early in camp, Bond found himself practicing at two positions. The extra reps would have been all but impossible for his former self. "I'm not gassed as much," he said. "You're still going to feel it. That comes with the work you've got to put in if you want to be a great player."
With no huddle between plays, a lineman - like all offensive players - must be alert on the field. "When it's 12 seconds between plays being called, you've just got to listen to the plays, be locked in and ready." And even if something goes wrong, at the very least it will go quickly. "If all else fails, if you do it wrong, do it fast," Bond said. "I feel like I'm doing it fast while I'm out there."
Bond's transformation in the new Tar Heel offense will help the team move the ball on Saturdays, and in the long term it will help keep him healthy. "It's fun to be out there in this new offense. I love the game of football, I just want to be able to continue to keep playing," he said. "I love it so far. I'm moving faster, the team's moving fast. We're just looking forward to the season this year."