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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Is Schiano on the correct side of the heat argument?

For as long as the Buccaneers have played in Tampa Bay, they've had to find a way to beat the heat.

Temperatures routinely hover in the mid-90's in August during training camp and September during the first month of the regular season. In fact, the average temperature in Oct. is 84 degrees, and with humidity, it can feel much, much warmer than that.

Some Bucs coaches have ignored it. Some have embraced it. Others have try to discover the best way to conquer it.

Coach Greg Schiano wants to use it as a weapon against opposing teams.

That's only part of the reason Schiano has his team operating at a heightened tempo in practice with no wasted moments or motion. One day a few weeks ago, he made players return to their positions on the field because he wasn't pleased how they sprinted to the sidelines for a water break.

"That has to become our advantage,'' Schiano said of the heat. "When you get teams out there in that stadium and it's really hot and you push the envelope, I think it becomes an advantage and that's something that is important to me.''

Schiano coached for two seasons at the University of Miami, so it's not as if he hasn't watched teams handle the heat. That said, historically, the Bucs have been all over the map with this heat issue. Before the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevented it, coach Ray Perkins held three-a-days during training camp. His teams traditionally started quickly, especially relative to their final record. Perkins' Bucs began 2-3 (4-11) in '87, 2-3 in '88 (5-11), 3-2 (5-11) in '89, 4-2 (6-10) in '90. But they wilted my early October.

As far back as 2001 under Tony Dungy, the Bucs followed research on dehydration and exercise in the heat done in conjunction with scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Jon Gruden added an air-conditioned 'cool-down' trailer when the team trained at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Raheem Morris included it in the team's new set up at One Buc Place in 2009. In fact, beginning in 2010, Morris routinely had his teams practice one day a week indoors at Tropicana Field when possible during September.

How much of an advantage is the heat in Tampa Bay to the Bucs?

That's hard to quantify. The more talented team that plays the best on any given Sunday usually wins regardless of weather conditions.

But a well-hydrated team that has practiced in cooler temperatures during the week may be better prepared to handle the heat for three hours than one that loses fluids practicing in it every day. That's just what the science would seem to indicate.

There's no question Schiano's team is going to be well-conditioned. The up-tempo practices almost guarantee it. Presumably, that could be an edge.

But Schiano has to be careful not to have players leave their best performance on the practice field before Sunday.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 1:49pm]


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