April 2, 2012
By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – With the beautiful Colorado weather taking a little vacation on Monday, the Rams football team went indoors for practice.
There the team worked on different situations, including red zone opportunities and third downs. Last season, Colorado State ranked 115th out of a possible 120 schools in red zone scoring percentages and 106th in converting third downs.
“We did get a lot of red area (red zone) work and then some third-and-short,” said Head Coach Jim McElwain following practice. “It was the first day where we have put in some third-and-short.”
While generally pleased with the effort from his team, the coach saw a few things that still need to be corrected from Monday’s practice.
“We talked about the mindset and the approach to today’s practice, let’s take care of the little things; penalties, alignment, unforced errors – let’s make sure we are taking care of that and assignment football,” said McElwain. “There were some things, especially in third downs and to be honest with you, our shotgun snaps, both handling them as a quarterback and the snaps at the center positions where we will have to go under center every snap. I have never really done that before; I will have to go in and re-do the playbook (laughing).”
The team will have one more practice on Wednesday before having the first scrimmage of spring practice on Friday, which both players and coaches are looking forward to.
“Like we always talk about, every practice, every situation, be proud of what you put on film so that when you watch yourself the next day, be proud of what you did and your effort,” said McElwain. “Let’s correct the mistakes but whatever you do, be proud of what you put up there on film.”
Other post-practice quotes from McElwain
On practicing indoors:
“We knew that it was going to be different so we altered the practice plan. But at the same time, at least having a full field, you’re able to split your drills and have a little side work. In here we weren’t able to do that and that’s too bad but the guys adjusted and did a good job.”
On if he thought about going outdoors:
“Yeah we did and we could have probably gone outside. We wanted to, as a staff, get an idea of our limitations. What it really showed is that we are not going to really be able to use this much.”
On Michael Kawulok’s tasks as a student-coach:
“As a student-assistant, he is actually able to coach on the field. He can actually handle some instructional drills; can actually communicate with players on personnel, that kind of deal. It is really helpful.”
On what it says about Kawulok’s character that he wants to help the team:
“I think that it speaks volumes for his character and his make up that he wants to do whatever he can to help the team be successful, which is really what we are trying to do for each individual to make sure they are not worried about themselves. They should eliminate the I, me, and my out of their vocabulary and use the us, we, and all.”
On how valuable Kawulok has been:
“Oh it has been huge having all hands on deck.”
On how good of a coach Kawulok is:
“He has been doing a good job. He has been up here paying attention to detail and I know the defensive guys are really enjoying his help.”
On the conversation when a player can’t medically play anymore:
“Well you know how much it means to them so it is really a delicate situation. Yet, this is a game that is hard; you have to go full speed and can’t hold back. I think it says a lot about knowing yourself and your limitations.”
On if the team will be ready for Friday’s scrimmage:
“That is what we talked about. Situationally, we are still probably a little bit behind; we are probably not going to work a goal line situation that I had planned. We will probably take that out and put that in for the next outing. I am a little nervous because we didn’t – we need to get a lot more blitz work and protection work and we weren’t able to get that.”
On if the team needs a scrimmage atmosphere:
“I think for them and for us to see who goes out and performs up to their abilities. Like we always talk about, every practice, every situation, be proud of what you put on film so that when you watch yourself the next day, be proud of what you did and your effort. Let’s correct the mistakes but whatever you do, be proud of what you put up there on film.”
Quotes from Wide Receivers coach Alvis Whitted
On the wide receiver unit:
“Right now they are all good kids. Right now they are dialing in to what we are trying to get them to understand. I don’t think any of these kids have been used to the way that Coach Mac (McElwain) and myself have practiced. It is kind of like a culture shock in a sense. For them, it is really just getting acclimated to our expectations and then their expectations for themselves to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to get better out here every day.’ They are slowly buying in, we are throwing a lot at them scheme wise but they are slowly getting it and slowly understanding what we expect out of them and how we practice. Good kids, and they are working hard.”
On how much experience plays a factor with his unit:
“Clean slate. It is a fair, but not equal policy. We are going to put the best guys out there who know what to do consistently and execute it to our expectations. That is what I tell those guys and they know and understand that. There are no favorites. Coach (McElwain) will tell you the same thing, we are going to put the best 11 guys out on the field that know what to do and execute it to our standards.”
On if the experienced guys stand out:
“Just strictly experience because they have been in the fire more. Again, they still have to prove it every day. Everyone is getting evaluated; I am getting evaluated every day. That is what I want them to understand is they get evaluated just like I do.”
On what the unit was most caught off guard about:
“I don’t think they held each other or themselves accountable. They were just like, ‘Oh I am just going to be lackadaisical and go through the motions.’ I am not going to allow them to be that way. As a player myself, I had no choice in the matter but I have to go out here and struggle, fight, claw, scratch and do whatever I have to do to make a living being a pro football player. It is like that every day or they will find someone to replace you. I want them to understand that in a sense. It is not like pro football, but in a sense it carries over in real life. It may carry over in school, may carry over when they go get a job. I want them to be like that.”
On if he sees a competitiveness from the receivers:
“It is coming slowly but surely. Each practice they are getting a little better and are showing us they are understanding. They are understanding the tempo at which we want to practice and once they get in shape in the way that we know they can be, the sky is the limit. Then they will start believing in themselves more. Good things will happen but they have to start believing. They have to start seeing the fruits of their labor and I don’t think they have seen success in a while. Once they start seeing it and getting a taste for it, they might say, ‘Hey, I want some more.’
On if the receivers are disgruntled that they are in a more run-oriented offense now:
“I don’t get that. I can’t speak for what Coach Mac wants to do but I know one thing that he is going to do is to do what we do well according to our personnel. I don’t want to speak on that.”
On people saying the receivers couldn’t get open last year:
“Oh they can get open. It is just some technique stuff; really simple, little technique stuff. I can’t really speak on the last staff, but maybe they weren’t taught certain things as far as the little subtleties of the position. There are things that I didn’t know as a player that I learned from guys who played a lot of football. The receiver position if you look at it is all about creativity but within the confines of the offense. I am trying to get these guys to understand that sometimes you have the freedom to do what you have to do to get open. Be creative. One of the guys that taught me a huge lesson about that was Jimmy Smith. I remember as a rookie he used to always tell me, ‘You have to play this game like you are on the playground. Be like a kid, get open, be creative but still within the confines of the offense.’
On who has stood out:
“I will say that Marquise Law, I don’t know how the other staff looked at him, but he is showing leadership right now. He wants it. I think he really wants it. He has continued to slowly get better each day. If he continues to show that leadership and outplay those guys that played last year, which will be a story in itself because he has the physical ability. He has what these other guys don’t have, he has size. All he needs is confidence.”
On if Friday’s scrimmage will be a test:
“Absolutely to see what they are made of and see how they are going to compete and react to adversity. All of those things are important for us as coaches to evaluate and see what we have right now. Down the road we will be able to make decisions as far as what we need.”
On if certain players will rise to the occasion:
“You never know. That is what this game is all about. It is about competing and the cream will rise to the top. We will see on Friday. I am looking forward to good things from these guys. I also think that a lot of these kids are a reflection of who they are around a lot, the coaches. I always coach with energy because this game was my life for a good while so that is the only way I know how to coach is with energy. Hopefully these guys will display that as we continue to progress.”
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