Our strength staff has never run Mat Drills. Our coaching staff is responsible for them. Our strength staff is there and they work our injured players, but the regular staff runs the drills. Last year, Jost wanted to work the OL's in the Tully Weight Room rather than having them go through Mats (a HUGE mistake, IMHO), but that was an exception rather than the rule. There's no way Trickett would allow that this year.
Mats have never been the same since Devaughn's death (I went through them that awful day) and understandably so. First of all, the format was changed slightly -- instead of 3 stations (one of which was broken into 3 substations) of 21 minutes apiece with no breaks and no water allowed, now we have those same stations at 18 minutes apiece with three minute water breaks between them.
But that is not the biggest difference. You see, before the tragedy, if one player in a group going through a drill made a misstep or somehow gave the appearance of not giving everything he had during that particular rep, the whole group was immediately sent back to the front of the line to repeat the drill. They would finish the drill only to hear "send 'em back!" and then have to sprint back around the drill to the front of the line, starting immediately. This could happen indefinitely. I think the most my group ever got sent back was around 5 times in a row (thanks to a very young BJ Dean; funny note: Peter Warrick got my group sent back 2 or 3 times one day), but some groups got sent back even more. Some days, the coaching staff would pick a particular person or group to pick on and send back with a hair-trigger (at least it seemed that way), and it would be very difficult for that group that day.
Getting sent back repeatedly was what everyone dreaded going into the old-school mats, but it was also a major factor in developing toughness and leadership. The guys who were getting through okay would pretty much carry the guys who were struggling back to the front of the line if they were sent back, and the players always had one another's back to help each other through. Unfortunately, this is probably what led to DD's death -- his group had been sent back a few times, he was struggling, and he kept on going with the encouragement of his teammates. He wasn't the first one to have collapsed that year by any stretch, but he never got up.
Now, a group can only be sent back twice, and when they're sent back, they go to the back of the line rather than the front. I went to mats last year a couple times and was quite frankly disappointed in the intensity I saw. There were a couple players I saw in particular that would never have gotten away with their intensity level a few years ago.
This is all understandable, and I NEVER want anything like what happened to DD to ever happen to any player again, but it is different and most certainly impacts our toughness and leadership. The effect the tragedy had on our coaches was also substantial. A couple of them were never the same in my estimation. I'll never forget the looks on their faces that day. I can't imagine that such a tragedy wouldn't affect the way they think about the whole thing for the rest of their careers; it certainly affected the rest of us players.