April 9, 2012
By Stuart Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Rams are well past the halfway mark of spring ball and Head Coach Jim McElwain is impressed with his teams progression.
McElwain is happy to see his players come together as a team as well as a list of other things.
"You know what I liked? They are starting to understand practices," McElwain said. "Go hard against each other to make each other better. Nothing is personal. We are only going to be successful if we are all together on the same page."
The players focus in practice also sticks out to the coaching staff.
"I think that is one thing we stress," McElwain said. "When we get in here it is time to go to work, focus on the details and they handled that pretty well."
After practice on Monday he thought the defense was a step ahead of the offense when it came to leadership.
"I was really impressed with some of the leadership that was coming out on defense," McElwain said. "One of the things we need to work on, a little bit, on offense is finding out identity and who our leaders are going to be."
This week is the best opportunity for the Ram to find an offensive leader. They will practice three times and wrap the week up with a scrimmage on Sunday, April 15th.
The fans in the Denver area will have a chance to see the Rams practice on Friday, April 13th. According to McElwain the fans will have a chance to see many different situations that CSU could face in the fall.
"We'll do a heavy situational practice on Friday, which I still have to figure out a field diagram there to see where we are able to do our drills," McElwain said.
Friday's practice will start at 6 p.m. and will be open the entire time to the public.
Other post-practice comments from McElwain:
On what he liked from the scrimmage after watching film: "There were some really good learning, teachable moments. The key is, like we talked about, we wanted to get ourselves on film live. We saw some guys really compete, some guys that were really trying. We need to clean up a lot of things on both sides of the ball. It was really a good learning experience from that standpoint. They wanted to be proud of what they put on film and that is something we stress. Be proud of what you put on film through your efforts and how you compete and then we'll correct what you need to from there."
On what needs to be corrected from the pass protection: "They are very correctable. Some of it is operator error. We can get it sewed up and at the same time I think you got to credit some of the games that were being run up front. I was kind of proud at the way those guys were snapping some of those off. I thought it was good from that standpoint too. "
On whether he thought about limiting the defense during the scrimmage: "No absolutely not. I believe you need to get as much as you can on video to teach from. Today's practice was evidence .The communication up front was much better in everything we are doing. There again, it's those teachable moments and I'm really happy we weren't lining up in the first ball game."
On linebacker core: "The group of linebackers is probably our deepest position as far as different guys being able to move and do some different things. Even when we go into our nickel package, we have some safeties that are actually linebacker kind of size. I'm really happy with what Marty (English) and (Tim) Skipper are doing with those guys."
On whether he was impressed with the young players: "We got some young guys that are going to play some valuable moments for us on this football team. As much of that kind of exposure we can get, so the game doesn't become too big, that it actually slows down for them."
Linebackers coach Tim Skipper:
On his linebackers: "I like them a lot. We do have some depth there. When I came here I wanted to start from scratch; so I didn't know if we had depth, who they were, what their names were, any of that. Now we are going through our ninth practice I feel good about the group. I am big on effort and energy and I see that out here."
On how the adjustment has been on the players: "There have been a lot of introductions. As far as what my name is, what their name is all the way to the specifics of the 3-4 defense. It's been good. It's been fun. We are finally able to laugh when we have rough days, before it was everybody staring at each other and me yelling."
On whether the linebackers are structured to run the 3-4 defense: "Definitely. I think it fits us well. Shaq Barrett, out there, who can play linebacker and also can rush the passer. We got a guy who can do multiple things, which is what you want in this system. You got James Skelton, who is a physical guy, who can take on guards and things like that. I like what I'm seeing out of Aaron Davis. He is doing a real good job playing with speed and understands angles and leverage. Corey James is having a real good spring ball as well."
On Shaquil Barrett: "Everybody just looks at how big he is and his size but that kid knows football and is a smart player. He understands it and he gets it. We can do a lot of things with him; he probably doesn't even know this but he only has half the gameplan for him specifically."
On the defensive communication: "It has been awesome. The whole defense is structured off of who is coming on the pressure, who is dropping in coverage so you got to communicate every single play."
On whether he notices the linebacker experience: "I think you just go off execution and the guys are executing well. Day one, we had some mistakes. From day one to practice number nine we have limited those amount of execution mistakes. So whether it is experience or just getting used to the surrounds and the coaches and the scheme. Whatever it is, it seems to be working right now."
On whether he is counting on the linebackers for leadership: "I think the linebackers have to be the leaders of the defense. For one, you're in the middle of the d-line and safeties so you're the center of communication. If you don't have leaders in that group you aren't going to be successful, so we have to be no matter how old we are."
"I like the way they're playing. When you're hitting and getting the ball out and causing turnovers, I take that as they're liking it. It's been happening so I like it. I think they love it."
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