Transcript: Weekly Press Conference - Rocky Mountain Showdown




Aug 26, 2013

HEAD COACH Jim McElwain

(general)
"It's at that point where it's about time. In other words, it's time we go test our team, it's time we find out more about our young guys, and it's time we find out and really get some answers as to how far we've come. This is all a part of the process. The next step now is to go and play someone else and determine where we're at as we move forward in the season. There isn't a team in America that isn't excited about their first game. How excited are you for your seventh or your eighth? It's a part of what becomes the maturation process and in part of building organization in a great program. That's where we're at now. I know we're looking forward to it. I really think we've made a lot of strides and I'm excited to see where those strides come and that'll be the test come Sunday."

"Moving forward, from a preparation standpoint, we put in some of the plan starting yesterday. We continued to do that just like we do on our weekly plans for every opponent. Today will be a `Base Monday.' We'll go into Tuesday and Wednesday where we'll pretty hard and do a lot of work against each other. Places that I've been, places that have had success, part of what you do is put competitive periods within the practice, where you're going against each other. It doesn't matter at the end of the day what the other teams does, it really matters what we do. That's one thing that I know we need to get across to our guys. When we look at film on Monday, you look back and say, `gosh, really was it them or was it us?' That's really what it's all about. The excitement for the test and to see where we're at is something that I'm looking forward to. I'm excited for the game. I'm excited for the opponent. I'm excited the venue - I think it's something that's pretty awesome. This is a good way to kick off the college football season."

"Injuries, we will have nobody in a red jersey today. Charles (Lovett) should be back, believe it or not, Mason Myers has done a great job in rehab. Austin Berk is going to be okay; Austin Gray and Thomas Coffman will both be out of red jerseys today. We should be at full force and obviously we're still protective of some of those nicks and bruises as we move forward. In our policy, if you're not practicing full by Wednesday, then you're not playing in the game. I'm not one of those guys that believes you show up on game day to play. There's too much that goes into it. Our guys understand that."


 

 

(on choices for players in key positions)
"I'm not sure on who we're going to play at running back, those guys are both going to play a ton. Of course at that mike linebacker position, Kevin (Davis), who we think is going to be ready to go and has done a great job, that is someone that we have to test and Nolan Peralta with his back. (Bryan) Ohene and (Danny) Nwosu have had a heck of a battle backing up Shaq (Barrett). As you look at that d-line, because of that tempo that they're trying to play at, there is actually more names that could be listed, you'll see more guys in the game, because we'll rotate  and keep those guys as fresh as we can against their tempo stuff. I'm prepared to make our decision is to see who handles `Perfect Thursday' the best. Who handles it? Who handles the gameplan? Who's ready to go? I would say Conner (Smith) has had a really good last eight days. He's maybe understood a little more of the attention to detail and what he needs to do. He had another good practice on Saturday. As did Garrett (Grayson), Garrett had a good practice on Saturday too. Every time we put Nick (Stevens) in, the freshman kid, it's like you go to film and say, `whoa, that's how you play the position.' You can say we don't have one, that's fine, put a spin on it however you want. I'm excited about the three of them and we'll find out who is ready to play."

(on whether Nick Stevens is prepared to play)
"I think that is yet to be determined. I have a ton of faith in him, as I do the other guys. I'm not going to be that guy that has a short hook. We may put a plan in that says, `someone is going to play the first three series, make sure they get in in the first half.' That's something we did at Alabama with guys as well. It's about taking care of the football and don't cost your team from a critical mistake standpoint.

(on putting freshmen onto the field)
"The one thing that you may do is if you rush them too soon, you may stunt their growth. In other words, they get shell-shocked unless you're convinced that they have total knowledge and a total grasp about what they're about to see and what they need to do to execute. With that, I think the freshman kid is mature beyond his years. I think that is proven based on the fact, the guy has more credits from high school then I may have gotten in three years at Eastern Washington. He's a guy who takes care of business. He's a guy that perfects his craft on a daily basis. If he's ready he'll go."

(on what a `Perfect Thursday' is)
"It's the way you plan things out. For us, Perfect Thursday is the game plan, the speed at which it's repped, the attention to detail in which it's executed, and the affirmation by every player in their calls to understand exactly what we're doing based on the gameplan."

(on when he'll announce a starting QB)
"I'll probably tell them when we're warming up. `Get in there, get in there and do what the heck you're supposed to do.' I want them to prepare like starters."

(on Nick Stevens adding competition between the other QBs)
"I think what it did is raise some eyebrows because he's know how to study. He knows that he has certain intangibles and some leadership ability and qualities that guys can follow. He was, I think, the second freshman to get a #1TDD band, which is an affirmation of where you're at. I think that should say something about what his teammates think about him."

(on Rashard Higgins)
"82 runs fast. That's a good deal. That's a novel concept to have at that position. Have you seen the guy they have? Number six? That guy runs really fast? I mean really fast. Wow."

(on how much of the game plan is based on San Jose State from last year)
"The majority because that's what you have to go by. Just like when teams were getting ready for us last year. They probably looked at what we did at Alabama and then looked into Dave's (Baldwin) background. I'm sure they broke down both films. Anytime you get a new staff, you research the staff as completely as possible and over the summer you pull every film from wherever the heck they came from and start to see where it meshes. That's really all you have to go by."

(on CU WR Paul Richardson)
"That guy is fast. That guy is faster than any guy we had at Alabama, I guarantee that. That guy is fast. We better know where the guy is. He runs fast enough at times where maybe you don't see the guy. You want to know some concerns? They got Pac-12 players. Jon recruited Pac-12 players. They're bringing in good players. One of those things might be speed. Explosive ability to finish plays. I like our guys, so we have to go out and play the game and that is really what it's all about. It has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do us and how we take care of business."

(on CU QB Connor Wood)
"I like the guys delivery. We watched a little bit from the spring game that you get on TV. What do you get out of it? You get bad looking uniforms and guys playing. The one thing the guy does it get his feet set and deliver the ball. I think he's accurate and he's got a threat out there, too."

(on the importance of the Rocky Mountain Showdown)
"These are the two state universities, number one. When we were in Louisville playing Kentucky, who were in the SEC and we at the time were in C-USA and are now in the ACC and they've put that matchup together. You see those great rivalries. Even Iowa-Iowa State, teams that are in different leagues but it means something to people in the state. We're Colorado State University, they're University of Colorado. That means a lot to people who got their degrees from there. It's about the in-state rivalry. I think it's just something that makes college football something special. For both teams to have something like this on the stage we play, I think it helps the high school football in this state."

(on freshman DB Tyree Simmons)
"He'll be on some special teams, as well as 82 (Rashard Higgins), he'll be on some special teams. Depending on the package he (Simmons) is in there in some dime things. How much they're going to be in for us to be in dime personnel, I don't know. I don't know their roster."

(on depth of defensive line and staying fresh)
"I think being fresh is huge, because when you get 300-pounders landing on you every play, that can't be comfortable. I'm glad I didn't play that position, I'm sure that's not a whole lot of fun. We have some choices, which I think is the important thing and we stay healthy and those guys keep learning and understand the importance of gap control; take care of your job so the guys around you can do theirs, that's really the key to defense. We say it all the time, don't worry about anything else except for doing your job."

(on making the pass-rush better)
"It all ties in. You know what, when you stay pressuring a bunch you're putting your guys in the back end on islands, so you have to feel really good about that. Then when you don't, it's really telling those defensive linemen they've got to get some pressure on their own. There's a fine line there as to how much you want to expose, so I think we'll be better because we'll be fresher up front in order to rush the passer."

(on feeling confident about defensive line getting pressure)
"You know what, that's why we play the game. I believe in them, I believe in our guys. I believe in this team, I believe in their affirmation, I believe their mindset is right; them thinking about one team, one town and one dream to me means these guys are thinking right. So will I be surprised if we get a good pass-rush out of them? Absolutely not, because that's what I expect of them, and what they expect of themselves."

 

(on how he feels going into first game)
"I can't say I have ever felt really good going into any first game, it doesn't matter where I have been or what I have done. The unknowns and doing your triple check, quadruple check on situations and what can happen. Sometimes you become so obsessed with the `what if,' as a coach rather than just going out and doing it. Look, I don't feel any better about this one then I have in 28 or 29 years of coaching, but I like our team, I like them."

(on having confidence in the rest of them team outside of the quarterback position)
"Those guys are out there, and it goes back to doing your job. Those guys are out there to do what they're supposed to do on that given play. Each play has a life of its own, win that play, now come back and win the next play and let's do what we can do to control that. That's done by playing hard, playing physical and having knowledge of what to do and how to do it. The guys around him, (the quarterback) make a play, it's that simple."

(on all quarterbacks improving)
"They're all doing better, they really are. Whomever is out there, I'm 100 percent behind and they have my full trust."

(on being hard on the team)
"You might have to ask them. I'm never hard on them, I'm the nicest guy in America just ask my wife. I think it was hard for them to understand my commitment to excellence and what you have to do as a person both on and off the field on a daily basis. I think that was hard for a lot of guys to grasp. So I think, as you look into the depths of each one of the guys and you talk to them, they might have a gripe, but at the end of the day who's accountable? Each and every one of us. We're accountable for what we do. We're accountable for our own self-determination and once that has been transmitted you start to see a little more interaction because you're not afraid to step up."

(on the importance of the running game)
"I believe you run to win. Everywhere I have been we have probably thrown it more than we have run it. The second half is where you want to control it. In a perfect game you would like to be 50/50. If you're throwing it 70 percent it's probably because you're behind, and if you're running it 70 percent that means you probably have pretty good control of the game. At the end of the day it doesn't matter; we know the whole idea is to end up with more points on the scoreboard than they have on the scoreboard."

(on making adjustments from last year into this year)
"I feel a whole lot more confident about not tripping coming out of the tunnel, I went over hard and thank god for all that smoke because no one else could see it. Game-day is exciting, and we have professionals on our staff. I think they're the best coaches around and I have total faith in them and how we communicate."

(on playing which quarterback plays on Sunday)
"I'm pretty sure we're going to play multiple guys. Now if some guy starts filling it up like (former pro basketball player) World B. Free then I'm going to say `keep feeding them'. Now they could also shoot you out of a game too, so get their tails on the bench."

(on the kid who won free tuition on Saturday)
"What an unbelievable environment to see all of those freshmen there as part of orientation and be able to say `you guys as freshmen are the luckiest people in America. You're at a top-university in the country, a place where not only can you get a great education but the experience, the leadership, the faculty - you will be a Ram forever and that is cool.' When that thing left his hand, there was no doubt from the get-go, it was awesome. The energy is just another step in being in a place that is still a little bit of a secret, but this place is unbelievable. This is the place to be. And just to feel that one little instant, that really kicked it off for me. I don't mind paying the check. At the same time I'm pretty excited, actually not pretty excited, really excited."

TIGHT END Kivon Cartwright

(on similarities and time spent with each quarterback)
"They are all very similar quarterbacks and they're all just great leaders that you respect and you've got to be where you need to be."

(on playing with true freshman Nick Stevens)
"He's an extraordinary kid. He's very smart and he's a leader all ready. He's one of the kids that does things right, so he's easy to follow."

(on motivation that having Nick Stevens in the quarterback position provides the team) "They're all great quarterbacks, and during camp you've got a lot of things to focus on, so I didn't really see a change between quarterbacks."

(on not name a starting QB)
"I'm not surprised, I trust my coaching staff and that Coach Mac is going to name a starter when a starter needs to be named."

(on difference in team now as opposed to last season)
"It feels a lot different because we all know what to expect. We have a lot of guys who came back, so we know what to expect. We know how the environment is and we know what it takes to win."

(on biggest difference in team)
"It's just paying attention to detail. We work a lot harder, the chemistry is a lot better, and just the whole scheme of everything we know a lot better because we've already been through it."

(on playing for McElwain)
"He's a guy you definitely want to play for. He's funny, he can be firm at times, but he's definitely a guy that you respect. It's generally rare to get a coach that cares about you, because in college sometimes it becomes a business. Coach Mac is a coach that really cares for his players."

(on being a Colorado native)
"It means a lot. I grew up watching this game and dreamed about how it would be to play in it. Having already played in it one year and coming in again for another year, it means a lot."

(on winning the Rocky Mountain Showdown in 2012)
"I have a newspaper article that shows the team and we're all holding up the trophy, I really couldn't describe it in words. It feels amazing."

(on winning the Rocky Mountain Showdown this year)
"I think that we're prepared. We had a great camp. We came out of fall camp together as a unit, and no matter how hard it was we came together as a unit. I feel like we're ready for the task."

(on the significance of the rivalry for the state)
"It's important for the state because you have two colleges and every team in the state wants to be the best team in that state. It's important for recruiting purposes because no one wants to go to the losing school. If you ask pretty much any person in Colorado they have an opinion on whether they like CSU or CU better, so you get a chance to get on the same playing field and see who's better. It promotes football in the state of Colorado because whether you're arguing or doing whatever you're doing, you're still talking about football and it helps."

(on CU's defense)
"They have the same defensive coordinator, so I think a lot of the schemes will come from that. Working with Coach (Dave) Baldwin, Coach (Rob) Ezell and Coach Mac and everybody, they're prepared for whatever comes."

(on McElwain last year compared to this year)
"He knows us more personally, so he knows how to judge every player and how different players respond to different things."

(on McElwain having the team focus on being family)
"It has made a huge effect, and getting though camp it's a lot easier when you care for the guy next to you other than he's a person from so-and-so who is on the same team. Just having that brotherhood in the locker rooms helps everything go by."

(on what the team did well last year, and what will be better this year)
"I think last year we just played hard, never gave up and believed in ourselves. I also think this year we will do that more. I don't think there are any guys on our team that will give up and throw in the towel. I think this year we will pay more attention to detail; we'll have less penalties and be more sharp."

(on becoming a powerful, physical team)
"I think in any football program you want to establish the run first, and then you pass after that. Our offensive line has made huge strides since the end of last season and even from spring ball that I can see. Those are the guys that are going to play and get the job done."

(on the younger classes `filling in the ranks')
"I've been really impressed and I think that says something about our coaches recruiting; getting guys that not only can play and have the physical abilities, but also the mental abilities to step in and do what they have to do to play. This whole camp I've been really impressed with the young guys who've come in working hard and staying humble, just trying to help the team."

(on freshman WR Rashard Higgins)
"He is definitely an extraordinary kid. Just his speed and his hands, his quickness, he can definitely open up the field for a lot of people."

(on getting the younger guys ready for the Rocky Mountain Showdown)
"I'm sure we'll practice under some noise just so they can get used to not hearing the count and watching the ball; just some different things like that for the game on Sunday."

(on personal goals for Sunday)
"On Sunday, I would like to work hard every play and just give it all I can. One hundred percent every play."

(on feelings about the first game of the season being on a Sunday)
"I'm definitely anxious to get out on the field, but I'm not really disappointed it's on a Sunday. It doesn't matter when it is as long as we're playing. It will be a good time."

(on large crowd and national TV audience)
"I understand that there will be a lot of people watching, but at the end of the day you just have to know what you're doing and play hard every snap. All the rest of that will take care of itself."

LINEBACKER Max Morgan

(on what he sees in Nick Stevens)
"I've been impressed. I know that our offense is pretty complex and the fact that a true freshman can step in and be competing for that starting spot and not skip a beat. I've been impressed."

(on whether the offense is in good hands with the three potential QBs)
"I think no matter who takes over at quarterback come Sunday, they'll have our offense ready."

(on the three potential QBs)
"They're all very consistent and know the offense well. From a defensively standpoint, you almost can't tell which one is in a quarterback, which is a good thing to know you have three guys that can get the job done."

(on what film he's watched)
"Personally, I've watched some CU film, some San Jose State film, a little bit of everything."

(on CU QB Connor Wood)
"He led the offense well and he seemed to know what he was doing."

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