ATLANTA -- You've heard it over and over again from Florida players, staffers, coaches, fans and just about anyone that has followed the program a lick since Dan Mullen took over as coach.

The new strength and conditioning staff is lights out.

Of course, almost every time there's a dip for a program, the strength and conditioning regimen is the first place the finger gets pointed. In Florida's case, though, at least this time, there were actually some serious problems.

Swamp247 has documented those problems extensively for our VIP subscribers over the past few months. Left tackle Martez Ivey laid them even more bare at SEC Media Days on Tuesday. The Gators simply didn't have a shot against teams with bigger, stronger players last fall.

"You knew it when you were playing," Ivey said. "Coming out you could just tell people were stronger than you. It was kind of like, not intimidating, but why am I not as big?"

Ivey, a former five-star prospect who has been a three-year starter for the Gators, hasn't quite lived up to the lofty potential so many saw in him out of high school, despite turning in some productive stretches.

And with three years under a poor strength and conditioning program, there's little doubt why at this point. It's hard to push people around when they're bigger and stronger than you.

"You'd see kids come (into games) that you hosted on their officials that turn out to be bigger than you right now," Ivey said. "It was something that blew my mind. So I knew once we got a new staff in it was going to be different, we were going to change it around."

In fairness to Florida players, it wasn't that they were unaware of the issues in the strength program. Several of them began training outside the UF facilities, going to NUMA Speed in town to get in extra, needed work. It wasn't always simply a lack of effort, but a lack of availability of proper instruction.

At one point, sources told Swamp247, first-round draft pick Taven Bryan went to head coach Jim McElwain in 2017 and blasted him over the lack of oversight and accountability in the weight room, specifically mentioning Ivey as an example of a guy that was physically far below his immensely high ceiling as a result. Since his departure from the proram, Bryan and his father have since been extremely critical of the strength program under McElwain.

"Even the staff knew, I believe, that basically the weight room wasn't where it needed to be," Ivey admitted Tuesday.

Now, Florida players hope the introduction of new director of strength and conditioning Nick Savage will help them get back up to snuff. In fact, most think they'll be ahead of their peers in the SEC. Though with such a low baseline for comparison, time will be the real test there.

But there's no doubt that the programs Savage helped direct at Mississippi State helped produce a very physical, tough team. And the Gators note the changes at every turn.

"The strength staff has been the biggest change that Florida has seen right now," linebacker David Reese said. "That's the biggest change. Just how we're accountable and everyone has changed: lost body fat, working hard every day and just coming to work."

So now when Ivey and company go up against those younger recruits who ended up at other schools, they hope to not find youngsters-turned-monsters. Or to be capable of competing with them, at least.

"I expect us to be more physical up front. That's for a fact," Ivey said. "O-line, D-line, I feel like we can take control of the game more now just by having more strength, more speed, more power."