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Boyd Epley says he made the observation merely as a casual spectator, although his storied background as Nebraska’s strength and conditioning coach may have influenced his opinion.

Epley, who returned to the Nebraska athletic department 14 months ago to oversee the Husker Power Strength and Conditioning Department, was watching Nebraska’s fourth-quarter football comeback in the September heat and humidity at Miami.

“Late in the game, there was not quit in our athletes,” Epley said. “Some of the things, as they lost different games as bad things happened to them, they didn’t give up.”

One such game was that overtime loss to Miami, one of seven by a combined 31 points this season.

“Their work ethic has continued to be tremendous," Epley said. "Their coaching, they (the coaches) haven’t lost the team. There were a couple of teams around the nation that at one point or another looked like they were going to lose control of their team. That didn’t happen at Nebraska.

“The attitude of the athletes is tremendous. Their effort is great. The coaching is very good, from what I can tell. We just need to make sure we bring in some good recruits and let Mark do his part of it.”

That would be Mark Philipp, who’s entering his second year as Nebraska’s football strength coach, the position Epley created nearly 40 years ago and held for decades, putting Nebraska at the forefront nationally.

“I like Mark, and I think he’s a great guy,” Epley said. “I think his attitude and demeanor is really encouraging for me to work with him. I have fun every time I’m around him. He’s got a great personality. I think he’s doing a really good job.”

Epley said Philipp and his staff “needed a little time to get geared up” after arriving last winter, and that he’s confident Philipp will make progress this winter with the Huskers.

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For example, Philipp said he needed more stations in the Ndamukong Suh Strength and Conditioning Center.

Ask, and ye shall receive. The number of double power racks went from 20 to 40.

“I think Mark is a motivator, and when you’re on the floor with the athletes,” Epley said, “that’s what it takes, and that’s what he is.”

Epley is part of Nebraska’s athletic performance team that includes nutritionist Lindsey Remmers, sports psychologist Brett Haskell, trainer Jerry Weber, athletic medicine doctor Lonnie Albers, sports analytics director Tucker Zeleny, and Mike Arthur, who's now in a performance research position for strength and conditioning.

The performance team is a collaborative effort that covers all sports, not just football, which allows strength coaches of each sport to focus on their duties and not administrative responsibilities.

The departmental approach is different from when Epley was first with the program. Epley now works under Steve Waterfield, the senior associate athletic director for performance and strategic research.

Since returning, Epley has also re-implemented his longtime Performance Index, a point system with a formula that combines tests in the vertical jump, agility run and 10-yard dash, and is used to identify top athletic talent.

Under Philipp, the football team is averaging about 100 points in improvement per test, with the next test to come during winter conditioning.

“Mark Philipp has already demonstrated with football he can make pretty good progress,” Epley said. “If he can continue to improve the talent level at 100 points each segment like that, twice a year, that would be a significant improvement for us, and that talent that we have will be greatly enhanced.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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