Mike Orakpo during spring ball
March 30, 2012
By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – For a guy coming off a BCS National Championship, Head Coach Jim McElwain doesn’t spend much time talking about the past.
That attitude is something he has preached to his team and is evident in the way he speaks and talks with those outside of the team.
“Like I said when I got here, I’m not looking at what was,” McElwain said to the media after Friday’s practice. “I am looking at what is going to be and what is.”
McElwain believes that his squad needs to understand that they are accountable for their actions in order to be champions on a daily basis.
“Each individual comes out with a mindset of what they are going to get accomplished on a daily basis,” said McElwain. “Whether it is getting out of bed and getting to school or how you’re going to practice and at what tempo you are going to practice, that is all self determination and we own it, each one of us. We make the decisions.”
The team went over third-down situations for a portion of practice, a point of emphasis for the coaching staff.
“You have to control the football and to do that you have to win third downs on offense and on defense; you have to get the offense off the field,” McElwain said. “Yesterday was an introduction to third downs and today we had a third down period.”
The coach described practice as one with good tempo and thought it was a small step in the right direction, except one of the stretching lines was “crooked,” making light of a comment he had made on Wednesday that stretching is what the Rams are best at right now.
Part of what made practice enjoyable for the first-year staff was they got to see some of the leaders of the team step up.
“It was good to see because we are trying to see who the leaders are going to be on this team,” said McElwain. “I thought at first that they kind of started slow but as we went on with practice, it actually picked up. There was pretty good tempo at the end; we were at no huddle pace and people were really pushing themselves. That was encouraging because some of the leaders stepped up and said, ‘Look, we are not going to allow ourselves to step back. Let’s go make sure we take a step forward.’
The Rams will hit the practice field again on Monday to try and take another step in the right direction. The first scrimmage of the spring is closing in and will take place on Friday, April 6th.
Other post-practice comments from McElwain
On how his team stretched today:
“You know what there was one line, it was the second one was actually a little crooked so it didn’t start off great (laughing).”
On what has been accomplished thus far:
“We have had to delay some install and were probably a little aggressive with what we were doing offensively and defensively. That is to be expected; I’ve had to do that practically everywhere we have been. The key is to make sure that you get it all down on paper so that you get it covered in your fifteen days of practice. We were able to add a couple more formations and shifts today and the defense handled it well. That was good. I think part of the learning curve is also how you learn in meetings and what it takes to prepare to come out here and be successful. These are all parts of it; it’s not just the practice. It is, how do I study film, how do I learn install, all those types of things go with it.”
On having a plan that allowed for error:
“Yeah and then you make adjustments. I think the great think about coaching is the ability to adjust on the move a little bit. Things during a game, all of a sudden someone comes out in a different defense, you better have an answer for it. You need to learn to adjust.”
On what the team has covered going into Friday’s scrimmage:
“I thought we would get a little more situations by now. Today was heavy third down and then we started to creep into the red area (red zone) a little bit. We have had to push back short yardage and goal line; we will try to get that in and will obviously take a look after seven and see what situations we will be able to scrimmage. The thing you don’t want to do is just throw them out there with something we haven’t gone over. The key to coaching is giving them the answer to the test and the test is obviously the scrimmage or the game.”
On if he has tried to incorporate fun into practice:
“What better thing to do? You get a chance to go to school, you get a chance to go play football, it’s a beautiful day out. The day we look at this as a grind, let’s quit.”
“We come out and prepare to get better on a daily basis. We have fun all the time. The fun is being able to compete, the fun is being out here with your teammates, the fun is trying to get better. Those are the fun things.”
On the competition between offense and defense:
“We are one team. I believe in having a team. I believe in both of us competing at a high level to get each other better. That is why we come out here and practice. If there is a fight out here, they are ejected and will never be back at practice. That is what happens in a game and they lose the next day or game. So to me, why practice something that – it’s why we have officials.”
“Today was good. There was actually a little bit of – it was good to see because we are trying to see who the leaders are going to be on this team. I thought at first that they kind of started slow but as we went on with practice, it actually picked up. There was pretty good tempo at the end; we were at no huddle pace and people were really pushing themselves. That was encouraging because some of the leaders stepped up and said, ‘Look, we are not going to allow ourselves to step back. Let’s go make sure we take a step forward.’
On Crockett Gillmore:
“We are going to have to get him out here and find out. Like I said, I’m not into preconceived notions on what anyone did. I know he was a good player, made some big plays on film. He needs to become a better blocker but you can’t tell right now since he is in a black jersey.”
On how big a step it is that his team put two-and-two together today:
“Well it is a good, solid six-inch step. But at least they put one foot in front of the other. It was good, except for that stretch line was crooked.”
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