UNIVERSITY PARK -- One of the many changes with the Penn State football program is taking place in the weight room, where machines have been replaced by free weights.
"It's just a whole different philosophy now, which I'm looking forward to," linebacker Michael Mauti said. "A lot of guys are excited about it. ... It's a whole different attitude, a whole different atmosphere."
New coach Bill O'Brien is overhauling PSU's strength and conditioning program, which meant making a change in personnel. John Thomas spent the past 20 years overseeing the Nittany Lions' strength and conditioning but was not retained by O'Brien, who instead brought in Craig Fitzgerald from South Carolina to take over that role.
"We're really buying into what Coach Fitzgerald wants us to do with the strength and conditioning program, and it's going to make us better as a team," quarterback Matt McGloin said.
"We're doing a lot of bar exercises and free weights and things like that, a lot of squats, a lot of dead lifts," McGloin added. "It's new and it's different, and we're happy about it."
Running back Silas Redd said the team is going through the transition phase right now with the new program, which he called "intense."
"We're all excited because the weights [themselves] and the exercises we're doing are a lot more exciting, as well, and we just get amped up and it gets rowdy in there," Redd said.
"We played music before, so I don't think that's it," Redd said of the atmosphere. "There's something about power cleaning and squatting that gets a guy amped up."
Those kind of workouts, Redd believes, also get the players' bodies accustomed to the type of violent hits they take during games.
"It should translate perfectly to the field," Redd said.
There are distinct differences between workouts using machines and free weights. The major ones are that machines isolate specific muscle groups and sometimes only work specific joints, while free weights often work more muscles and joints and can lead to better overall strength and mobility, according to bodybuilding.com.
The machine versus free weight debate has long been a hot topic among Penn State fans on Internet message boards. Switching to free weights, many hope and believe, will make the players stronger, tougher and better prepared for game situations, although it's impossible to say that would definitely be the case for any given player.
Mauti called Penn State's new program "my kind of style."
"A linebacker ... you want to lift free weight -- fast, explosive lifting movements, speed work, all that kind of stuff," Mauti said. "It's exciting, a lot of energy type of stuff."
The players have been impressed by Fitzgerald, who worked the past three seasons at South Carolina. He was on the staff with O'Brien at Maryland from in 2003 and '04, plus he was at Harvard from 2005-09.
"He's kind of got that fire in his eyes, just a real motivated guy," Mauti said. "He's the type of guy that will get in your face a little bit, but in a good way. He'll pick you up when you need picking up, and he'll let you know when you're doing good. ... We've only been with him for a week, and I can just tell that he's a real positive guy."
Just how much the new workout program will change the players' effectiveness during games remains to be seen, but for now they have welcomed the free weights with open arms.
"We're going to be a good-looking team, I think, come camp, be physically a lot better," Mauti said.
SUBHD: O'Brien update
O'Brien spoke on a conference call Wednesday and said he plans to name his final assistant coach "hopefully by the end of next week."
It has been reported that Patriots offensive assistant George Godsey would be the new quarterbacks coach, but that has not been made official yet.
"We could go a few different directions there," O'Brien said of the final hire.
O'Brien, New England's offensive coordinator, will try to help the Patriots beat the Giants in the Super Bowl on Sunday and plans to be back in State College on Monday or Tuesday.
As for juggling his Patriots and PSU responsibilities, O'Brien said, "It hasn't been as difficult as people may think because of the people involved on both ends."
SUBHD: Newsome to Temple
Former PSU quarterback Kevin Newsome announced Wednesday on Twitter that he will be going to Temple. He will have two years of eligibility with the Owls.