March 23, 2012
By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - After the first practice, Head Coach Jim McElwain loved his players' approach to the start of spring ball.
After the second practice, the first-year coach saw a completely different team than he did on Wednesday. McElwain described it as a lack of consistency from the team.
"They have to understand that it is every day," said McElwain. "It just doesn't happen every once in awhile. But again, it is changing a culture and changing an attitude and changing a mindset. The guys that understand the mindset and understand what it means to be a Ram will be the ones playing next fall."
The fast tempo from the first practice remained intact; however the execution and discipline were not up to McElwain and his staff's standards.
"You have to have some personal pride in yourself to be a relentless competitor and right now they don't have it," McElwain added. "It is a simple lack of focus, attention to detail and accountability."
While disappointed with practice, he knows that there are techniques that he and his staff can incorporate to better understand each player.
"As an educator, it is our responsibility to find out how each individual learns, what makes them tick," McElwain said. "It is easy to say, `Oh they are a bad player or they are dumb'. No they're not. Our teaching is not correct. We have to re-evaluate how we are teaching to get the message across."
The team will have a chance to rebound on Monday afternoon as they hit the practice field for the third of 15 allowed practices during spring ball. McElwain knows the next practice will be a good indicator of the attitude of the team.
"It is going to really tell a lot and tell a lot about a bunch of guys' character. I look forward to see how they come."
Other post-practice comments from McElwain
"Our guys just don't quite understand what it is to be a champion on a daily basis. They don't understand how to practice yet, they don't understand how to finish and I was really disappointed. We had a lot of alignment errors, just things that bad teams do. I am really upset."
On if the team just doesn't know what he expects:
"What is hard to take is a lack of accountability for your actions, that is what is hard to take. I can handle mistakes but when they are mistakes that are just caused because of fatigue or lack of focus, that is what kills me. That is why we will go up tonight, watch every snap, get it graded, and come back on Monday and get it corrected. It is a good thing we didn't play today.
On the injury status of Momo Thomas:
"He tweaked his ankle on Wednesday about midway through practice. We have kept him in a boot just to stabilize it. It is not a high ankle sprain so we expect him back on Monday."
On using referees in practice:
"We will use referees for every practice. I looked at our penalty count and most of our penalties last season were a simple lack of focus, lack of accountability and stupid penalties. They were unforced errors and they have to learn. As we go to the board on Monday, and the first that we do is the penalty count and who each person is that did it. They have to understand that each and everything they do that they must be responsible for their actions. Each one of them is responsible for their own self determination. They decide what kind of practice we are going to have by the way they walk through these gates."
On how long he expects it will take the team to adapt:
"We needed that accountability, as far as a time frame, about two months ago."
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