Aug. 5, 2011
By Stuart Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Head Coach Steve Fairchild knows football is important but he also knows life is more important.
A longtime friend of Fairchild’s, Steve Kragthorpe, just relinquished coordinator duties at LSU after being diagnosed with Parkinson ’s Disease.
“I’ve known Steve for a long time,” Fairchild said. “When I first got hired by the Buffalo Bills (2001), he got hired in the same year. I know him and his family very well. They’ve had some medical issues; his wife’s had some and now he has some. I’m going to try to reach out to him, but it puts a dose of reality on life. Football’s not that important. We should think about some of things that the Kragthorpe family is going through.”
With the Kragthorpe family weighing heavily on his heart Fairchild took to the field Friday morning to continue on with fall camp.
Exciting would be one word observers would use to describe Friday’s practice.
In drills, players were flying to the ball, running crisp routes, and not making as many mental errors as seen in previous fall camps. Between drills players were running to the next station and hooting and hollering at each other.
It is noticeable to those who come to practice that the Rams did not need a few practices to get into the swing of things. It seems like they picked up right where they left off.
Friday’s practice worked on the running game and defending against the run. Both sides of the ball had stretches of success against one another and they would let each other know it. There haven’t been any scuffles during fall camp but the intensity is still high.
It seemed like when the Rams weren’t practicing the run, redshirt freshman Thomas Coffman was catching every pass thrown within 10 yards of him, including a one-handed catch along the sideline. A couple of times he got to demonstrate his speed that makes him such a lethal receiver as he blew past the defensive back on his way to easy catches for gains over 50 yards.
During fall camp the coaching staff is keeping a running score between the offense and defense. Only certain drills during practice go toward the score and Friday it was a blocking drill.
The offensive linemen line up, like they would in a game, against the defensive line. There is a quarterback in the backfield, which Friday was played by Mason Myers, and the goal is to stop the defensive player from touching the quarterback.
If any position group is in mid-season form it’s the offensive line. The entire first-string o-line prevented a defensive player from getting near the quarterback. The offense had gained a point seven consecutive times before Charles Green bull rushed up the middle and “sacked” Myers.
Fairchild also noticed the strong play of the offensive line.
“I think our offensive line dominated our defensive line a little in the competitive period,” Fairchild said. “I hope our defensive line bounces back.”
Through two days of fall camp, the offense leads 15-5.
One extreme to the next: Music was implemented into practice last spring when the player’s council approached Fairchild about the possibility of some tunes during practice. On Friday country music was the genre of choice and Fairchild said it was picked by former offensive lineman Phil Serchia, now an intern. Fairchild also joked, “I’m going to put disco on one day.”
Meet the Rams Day: Saturday morning fans are invited to Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium to meet the players and coaches. The team will be available when practice ends, which could be as early as 9:30 a.m., to sign autographs and take pictures. Free posters will be available. Parking and admission are free, but fans should note that due to the stadium landscaping project, they should access the stadium from the north parking entrance, not the south.
Shoulder-pad Saturday: Before Meet the Rams Day, Saturday’s practice will be held at 7:45 a.m. at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. It will be the first time CSU puts on all the pads.
“I think you’ll see a lot more flying around,” Fairchild said. “We won’t go live until we hit that fifth practice (Monday) but there will be some thud periods where I think it’ll be faster than it is now.”
Sisson snubbed: After leading the country in forced fumbles in 2010 and leading the nation in career tackles for loss, Mychal Sisson has been left off of the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, an award presented annually to the nation’s top college linebacker. Fairchild was slightly upset that Sisson wasn’t named to the 51-player watch list.
“If you’re talking about the elite linebackers in the country, you would have to mention him in that breath, just based on what he’s done the first three years. It would be an oversight not to keep him in that conversation.”
Other quotes from Fairchild’s post-practice media session…
On whether he attributes things seeming to go more smoothly than last year to having so many returning starters: “Yeah, I think so. I think we’re more experienced. That helps. I think we’re farther along in our program, so they understand what we want. We’re scripting at least a 2, maybe a little over a 2-hour practice. Two days in a row, they’ve got it done in an hour and 50 minutes. That’s fine. Eventually, we’re going to have to be on the field for 3, 3 ½ hours, in a game type of thing, but I’m not worried about that now. There will be some Saturday scrimmages when we do that, but they’re working good.”
On other areas he sees experience paying off: “Quarterback. We’re not, obviously, stumbling around looking for a starting quarterback, so that really adds to your offensive continuity. And you could see that in the spring, and you see it again here; it jumps out in August.”
On competition for jobs: “That’s what I just talked to our football team about. The competition is getting to a point now where there’s a fairly good amount of players at both spots, so you’ve got to bring your A game to get out on the field. I think it brings out the best in everybody. It also helps us as we wear down, and get an injury or two as we go on here.”
On installing plays more easily: “Yeah, I think on both sides of the ball, because we’re a little farther along. I think we’re able to jump into situations faster as well. We start with 2-minute, already done some red-zone, third-down stuff.”
On competition at running back: “Again, that’s a spot, kind of like our defensive line, where I don’t think we’re looking for one guy. We’re looking for a bunch of guys because we usually play two or three guys there. And, with running backs, you really can’t tell until you put pads on and make guys miss, break tackles. We’re letting them finish out here without shoulder pads on. Raymond (Carter) had a good spring and I’m hoping he’ll have his best year, and I think he will. Derek Good is going to play some and I think Chris Nwoke is really talented. I’m anxious to get a look at our freshman backs when we get the pads on. Again, they’re stumbling around a little bit because everything’s new, but it’ll be fun to see them go.”
On whether he likes practicing at the stadium, like Saturday for Meet the Rams Day: “I do. I think the kids like it. They like going out there. Obviously, we’re not going to wear it out, but every Saturday for sure. I think there’s a couple Thursdays where we’ll go out there. It is a nice facility; we might as well use it.”
On opening with a conference game and whether that puts more emphasis on fall camp: “I hope it does. They’re looking every day at us. We better be looking every day at the University of New Mexico. It’s a conference game on the road. I can’t think of anything else bigger.”
On installing game plan for New Mexico: “Probably when school starts (Aug. 22). We already have done a summer study on both sides of the ball, to give us a feel for what we’re going to do, so some of that stuff is just in our natural installation. But we will start to create the New Mexico looks, with look teams, with two weeks to go.”
On the progress of the defensive line since spring ball: “I like the fact that we’ve got numbers there, somewhere between eight, nine, 10 guys I’m hoping we can put in a game. I don’t know that we have a difference-maker right now. I’d like to see somebody step up and practice-in, practice-out be the guy, that the offense has to contend with. I’m not sure I see that right now. We’ve got some time.”
On general thoughts after two practices:
“Yeah, I’m happy with the tempo. It looks like we’re going to be a much better team. We’ve got a lot of guys back, so we should be. We’ll know more when we put the pads on. We’ll develop just what type of team we are through about the 10th practice. When things start getting hard, we’ll see just how competitive this group is.”
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