Transcript: McElwain, Porter, and players meet with media before fall camp




Aug. 1, 2013

Head Coach Jim McElwain

(General)
"Our team had a great summer and I think you'll see that as they hit the field.  The first thing I want to talk about is where we are at right now going into fall camp. I'm feeling a whole lot better than I did a year ago at this time with the conditioning of our guys, the health of our guys, and the strides they've taken under Coach Kent and Rashad Harris and the guys down in the weight room. It's really been good, and it started last winter going into Ram U which I think there was a direct correlation with how we finished the season last year. You guys watched us play. I think the light really came on for a lot of guys as to what is expected and the type of football we're going to play here at Colorado State. There were maybe some things that they were able to overcome mentally, the ability to overcome some adversity and then come back and actually win a couple of games. Those things are a couple of carry-overs, and I'm excited about that. We still have to rearrange our roster as we move forward. One of the great things here obviously is the leadership we have from a university level. Dr. Frank, our athletic director (Jack Graham), people associated with the football program understand exactly where we were at and understand exactly where we are going as we talked about when we first got here."

(On building a program)
"There are certain things you can do to build shortcuts when you're building a foundation, and maybe some things will happen a little sooner, obviously I want it to happen as soon as possible, yet at the same time, when you take shortcuts sometimes, there might be early results, but in the end that foundation crumbles. I think we've done an outstanding job of staying the course, not panicking and building for what we are going to do here at Colorado State and I think that's a credit to all the people in the organization and the association with our football program. I feel very good about our direction and where we are headed."


 

 

(On this year's schedule)
"You know, as you look at this year's schedule, it's got some meat in it! And I think this year's schedule, even our non-conference schedule as we look forward to it, the quality of teams on it, those are all things that our guys are going to have to step up, adapt to, and overcome and that's really what it's all about. We're going to challenge ourselves and were going to challenge this football team, were going to challenge this organization to lift our expectations and not accept mediocrity in anything we do. I'm excited about that part of it."

(On injuries)
"From an injury standpoint, last year we were coming off six or seven knees (injuries) and guys were limited in what they could do in fall camp and we had some other guys with some other injuries. This is where I feel really good, and this is where I think you see the year-and-a-half program that we've installed in our nutrition and conditioning program with the guys down there that were in a much better state from that standpoint going into camp. Guys that were coming off of injuries last year, Kevin Davis, as you know, played a significant role for us as a true freshman. I think he has a chance to be a really fantastic player here. He's ahead in his rehab and that's a credit to our training staff and our conditioning rehab staff down in the weight room. He's going to have the opportunity to actually partake in practice. It's still one of those deals where you don't want to rush it too much, but he will be out there and practicing which I was actually kind of shocked about to be honest. Nolan Peralta, another freshman who had a back issue, has gone all the way through our conditioning. Obviously, we're going to have to limit some of his stuff and that's one of those deals where he still has a full life to live after football, so we have to manage that, but Nolan will be at practice. Davon Riddick, who got hurt during training camp, he's been cleared for all activity, so that gives us some juice at the running back position.  One new thing that has popped up is Max Morgan. We went in and cleaned his knee up so he may be a little short for the first week of camp. I feel good about that, as you know, Max has been here forever and he's one of those guys who doesn't need a lot of that (training), so this is actually probably good on his body to be honest. He'll be missing the first week of camp, but other than that were going in pretty healthy. As a coach, knowing what we went into last year with, and having to actually alter how we practice because of those injuries, I think this puts us ahead of the curve a little bit from where we were a year ago."

(On new players)
"We've got an influx of a lot of new players. As you come and watch practice, there are going to be a lot of new names, a lot of, "hey, what's that guy's jersey number?" I'm going to have to do a good job of memorizing who the heck they are, especially when they get their helmets on, so if you hear me out there saying, "hey, jersey number whatever!" It isn't that I don't know who it is, it's just that I don't know what they look like right now in their uniforms. I think where that will really be evident guys is when you see our receiving corps. We have five new names in there; five new guys that are coming in that I think will really help us from a competition standpoint. All great programs have competition at every position so that guys don't get satisfied. We are on our way right now to developing competition at all spots.

(On the addition of Joey Porter to the coaching staff)
"One of the things we did when we first got here, is we reached out to our former Rams. We want them to be part of who we are and what were all about. Part of it is using history to help you build your future and embracing all those who played here and the guys who built this. We are really excited to be able to help one of our own in Joey Porter. As you know, it's very important to me that every guy get a degree. That's the goal.  It's important to help the guys who want to get a degree and want to finish school. In Joey's case, he's been a great supporter of us; he's a true Ram. When you walk by the locker room, his name is on it. He has stepped up and he has given back to his university and I think it's our time to give back to those who meant so much to us. We are going to allow Joey the opportunity to come back and get his degree as an undergraduate student assistant coach. He was interested in coaching and yet, wasn't sure as well. This will give him that insight into being here until two in the morning and showing up at six in the morning. This will give him some insight into what bad coffee tastes like. This will give him the insight into a lot of the things that go on behind the scenes that no one ever sees as far as the organization and what coaching is. I am so excited that he is going to be part of our staff and our organization and his ability to impart some things from a credibility standpoint to the players as they're legging through two-a-days. He's been through a few of those in his life and he understands what it is to be a Ram."

(On the returning starters)
"The great thing is that we have some guys returning, some guys that played valuable roles last year and played a lot of snaps. The bad thing is we won four games, so there's your catch 22. But with that we had a lot of young guys gain a ton of experience and now know about the grind of the season and all those types of things. Obviously, having a lot of those guys back is good, and we are going to have to lean on a lot of those position areas. Our offensive line, for example, is something that we really have to force leadership on because, for a couple of those guys, they've played a lot of snaps, and they're healthy now and that's a good thing. You always feel better when you have guys who are coming back so I'm excited to see what their progress is."

(On his top priorities for camp)
"What we do is set offense, defense and special teams priorities from a year ago. Obviously, offensively the priority is learning to take care of the football, and understanding what each snap and each possession means. And that's at every position, not just the quarterback or running back position. Defensively, you've seen the statistics; on third down we have to get off the field, especially on third and long. In the special teams, obviously we are breaking in a new punter, and our kick-off coverage is something we need to improve. Those are the points of emphasis on each individual unit, but the overall goal is that no matter where we are in training camp we should never "endure" a practice. Rather, we should attack each individual rep as if it is its own. And that mentality, which I thought we got to towards the end of last season, is something we are still striving to do."

(On whether last year's goals of family mentality and moving on after a play have sunk in)
"It's yet to be determined, but based on our actions in the off-season and based on the things we have done and accomplished as a group, I feel like we've gotten there. One of those things we're learning is that we move forward. Our team affirmation that we did in our mental conditioning over the summer  is something they come up with independent of anybody else, and I am really excited about what they chose as their team affirmation. "One Town, One Team, One Dream." So when you see #1TTD, that's their affirmation. I think we are getting to the understanding that each one of us is responsible and as a team we are responsible for this town. We are responsible for this team, and each one of us has to carry that dream. That really hit me that, you know what, we're really heading in the right direction."

(On new player safety rules on targeting)
"It's a good rule, and here is where I'm at with rules and changes. Everybody's dealing with it so it's how you approach it. We had a great conference as head coaches with the officials who really broke it down as to what they are looking for as far as intent, what is incidental, and how you can help from a safety standpoint. So, defensively a lot of those changes come into play and now we know what they are looking for and we are aware of what constitutes and doesn't constitute an ejection. We are going to work on a lot of those things in our tackling drills, we're going to show it to the team when it does come up, so were able to help educate and highlight the safety issues involved. Everybody is playing under it so we just have to adapt and help make a positive change. We've already addressed it in our practice plans."

(On young guys who will be called upon to lead)
"Trent Matthews and Kevin Pierre-Louis are two guys that come to mind right away. On the defensive side, I would say Cory James. One other guy who has really stepped up his game this off-season, even though he isn't a young guy, is Charles Lovett. These guys have done an unbelievable job of embracing the new Rams, the new family if you will, and I'm excited about that."

(Clarifying the "one dream" in the team affirmation)
"That is an affirmation that our family is going to hold in-house right now, but what's really satisfying is when your players come up with it because they take ownership. Sometimes as coaches and organizations we spit things out and tell players, "That's what you're going to do." But this is something that they believe in and I like the way they're thinking."

(On expectations for his team in 2013)
"Our main expectation is to compete every down. Give the town and give the team something they can be proud of and hang their hat on. That's the direction were headed."

(On how the Mountain West has become a quarterbacks' conference)
"Anytime you have a great quarterback, you have a chance. We witnessed that yesterday at Broncos training camp with Peyton Manning and last season with the Broncos. It just blows me away what he can do to impact a whole team. Our conference has seven of them. We won't face two of them just because of scheduling, but we get the guy at Tulsa (Cody Green) and my guy A.J. McCarron at Alabama who arguably might be the best quarterback in the country. Great. That's what we have to look forward to! But then again, let's deal with it. That being said, I think the quarterback play in the Mountain West Conference will bring national attention to a great conference and people are going to take note. I think it's good for everybody."

(On heading into camp in year two)
"There are a lot of notes you take after you do everything, and then when there is an event you go back as a staff and take note of things you may want to tweak. We look at things that worked and didn't work in every situation. For us, some of the things we're looking at is now upgrading some of the competition because we actually have competition at some of the positions where we didn't have it before. There will be a lot more competition based drills and situations where before we were re-teaching the situation. Now we know the situation, so we'll focus on the competition part."

(On whether the Rams will need freshman to play extensively this year)
"We do, and especially from the aspect of pushing other players as competition. The receiver core and defensive line are two critical areas where we need the young guys to compete and develop. The thing we do now is look down the road, so the development piece will be huge."

(On the addition of Junior College players)
"In a perfect world, as a steady program you want 16 to 18 recruits in every class. Because of attrition in some of those classes, however, there aren't very many numbers (left). We were able to actually get a couple of three year guys; they aren't your typical two and done guys. When you start to look by class, that's how you want to really inject those transfer players, so I feel really good about where we are from that standpoint."

Undergraduate Student Assistant Joey Porter

(on how it feels to be back at CSU)
"It feels great; I am definitely excited about the opportunity, excited that Coach Mac (McElwain) gave me the opportunity to come back and be a part of the CSU family. It's not like I never was when I left, but it's always good to come back and be here in Fort Collins."

(on how different things feel now)
"Things change a lot. I haven't been here in a long time; it's been over 15 years since I've been back here living in Fort Collins. When I came back for the Spring Game, our facilities that we have now are just on such a larger scale than what I remember. This whole building did not look like this, and it's just amazing to see how much we have grown since then. I can say that this is a great opportunity and I'm excited to be back."

(on what he hopes to pass on to current players)
"I just want to try and make them better football players and make them better young men. I was lucky enough to play 13 years in the NFL, so from a football standpoint, I know a lot about the game and I remember when I was that 18 or 19 year old kid that they are now. I know what the transition is from there to where I am, and what it took to get there. I know exactly what it takes to become a good football player. I'm just going to try and relay my story and show them that hard work, and if you stay dedicated and motivated anything can happen. When I came here years ago, I never knew I would have the opportunity to play 13 years in the NFL. I started off as a wide receiver, and my story was a tough one. There are a lot of kids more talented than Joey Porter, so I just want to get the most out of those guys."

(on what he wants to learn from the coaching profession)
"This is definitely what I want to do; I definitely want to get into coaching. I'm going to try and give back everything I can. I'm going to soak up a lot from the coaches and just sitting back and seeing the hours and what it takes and all the rules. There are a lot of rules that go into college football. Where I was playing for the last 13 years, it was a professional business and it was run totally different. Now coming back to the college game and seeing what these kids have to go through to be eligible, and to manage school and football and everything that goes with it, I'm excited. I looked at things differently when I was their age and just wanted to get through everything, but with me being older I can go back and tell these kids `okay I remember when I did that, that's not the way you go about it.' I was the same kid that wanted to find the easy way, and the easy way didn't work. That's why I'm back here finishing back my degree now. There are some things that they can learn from me that I'm going to give back to them, and hopefully some things that I can learn from these kids."

(on importance of finishing degree)
"It's very important for me just to have my degree. You always want to finish everything that you start. I had a lot of opportunities to finish it, but when I was playing professional football my mind was on being a pro. That was my job, so my offseason was always a situation of trying to let my body recover. Now, I'm done playing, so it speaks volumes for me and my family to graduate. I will be the first in my family to get a degree, so my immediate feeling for my kids is big; it's big for them to see that even though dad went and played pro ball, he still went back to school to get his degree. The standard will be set."

(on speaking with Mike Vrabel about coaching)
"Yeah I talked to Vrabel and he's in a good situation. He was able to go back to where he's from in Ohio State and Columbus, Ohio. He was excited about it and he told me that `when you first get there it's going to be tough, but if you like football like I know you do, you're going to love it.' That's the whole thing, you always have to love what you do and I know I love it. It's going to be different, but I'm excited and I'm ready for the challenge."

(on reaching back to former players)
"I hope I can. Whatever Coach Mac (McElwain) can use from me, to going back to the other players, use it. It's been nothing but good since I've been here, and I'm excited for the opportunity. I've said it before that I'm excited that Coach Mac reached back and gave me the opportunity, so when the guys ask me how it's going, I have nothing but good things to say. Hopefully they see how good it is going and that I'm in a happy place."

Cornerback Shaq Bell

(On 2013 team motto "One Town, One Team, One Dream. #1TTD)
"We were in this room (Coors Auditorium) and we were just making slogans and we came up with "One Town, One Team, One Dream" and everybody liked it. That is what we're going to stick with. The `One Town' part is about the whole community getting into it. The `One Team' part is just all the players and coaches buying into it. The dream part is something I'm not going to talk about yet."

(On who came up with the team motto)
"Shaquil Barrett." 

(On quarterbacks in the Mountain West)
"It's always great to compete. At cornerback you go against the receiver and the quarterback and it's just fun to compete against the best. We have some great quarterbacks and receivers in the Mountain West, so it's going to be fun to compete against them." 

(On a young defense gaining experience)
"It will benefit us a lot because last year we had a chance to mature. Now this year we are mature enough to understand the defense and all of the plays. We have a feel for the game and all the nervousness and butterflies should be out by now." 

(On teams progression of living on the moment)
"I've said this before, I think this is the best summer since I've been here. Just the competitiveness and doing stuff as a family, guys are even competing while doing abs (workouts). It transfers onto the field and I feel like we made a greater achievement this summer than last summer and the bond is amazing." 

(On competition at each position)
"I think it helps a lot because it is always a motivation to know that someone is coming for your position. It makes you work harder even for the younger guys that don't want to redshirt, they are going to be competing to take my spot. It just builds motivation to keep your spot and help the young guys compete." 

(On the readiness of the young guys at cornerback)
"They all look pretty good from me watching them during summer workouts. All three of them (Saladin McCullough, Tyree Simmons and Justin Sweet) have good feet and are very physical. I think they will be ready when their name is called." 

(On the switch to Under Armour)
"I think it's a big step for the program. It just makes us feel more complete." 

(On the progression of the defense heading into season two)
"It's our second year so we know the players and we know the schemes we want to run. When it comes to third downs it just comes down to `how much do you want to compete.'" 

Long Snapper Tanner Hedstrom

(On Hayden Hunt)
"He's looking good. I'm excited about him. He has big shoes to fill but Pete (Kontodiakos) had his legacy and now it's Hayden's turn to fill his." 

(On how much help he can give a punter)
"Tremendous help. With me being a senior, I know how it is on the field. I consider myself pretty consistent so the new punter doesn't need to worry about where the snap is going. Which I think will give him more comfort back there."

(On the 2013 team motto "One Town, One Team, One Dream #1TTD")
"I think it's a great slogan but we're all going to keep it in-house as to what it means." 

(On what `One Town' is symbolic of)
"This is a football town and this is what the town has. We are just trying to bring that back together." 

(On feeling of team heading into year two)
"We're very excited. I'm really excited. We've been working hard in the offseason and it has flown by. We have that first year under our belt and this year we are going to keep going forward." 

(On whether he notices the culture changing)
"Totally. Especially from last year until now. He (McElwain) really brought the whole family aspect back and we are ten times closer than we were last season." 

Tight End Kivon Cartwright 

(On the 2013 team motto "One Town, One Team, One Dream" #1TTD)
"We're going to keep the dream part in house. The most important part is just getting the community behind us and building that camaraderie with the community and getting them behind us and filling the stadium. It takes everyone to win." 

(On the difference going into year two)
"It is very different this year. We know what is expected of us, as players and the coaches. We are all on the same page and nothing is a shock. We know what to expect and we know how to prepare for each game." 

(On the culture change)
"Coach Mac has been preaching family since day one and this summer the whole team has been making huge strides; getting to know each other and hanging out with each other on weekends. It just makes everything more fun when you know the guy next to you." 

(On building a relationship with the guy you're competing with)
"You respect the guy you're competing with, you're not going to see him as just competition but as family. That guy will elevate the team and so will you. So both of you are competing to elevate the team. It is not about any individual. We are thinking about who is going to be the best player, who is going to work the hardest to bring the most to the team." 

(On reaction to hearing Joey Porter is working with the program)
"I was very, very excited. His knowledge of being in the league and being who he is, it is just very exciting for all of us." 

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