Sept. 16, 2013
COLORADO STATE FOOTBALL
Weekly Press Conference--Monday, Sept. 16, 2013
HEAD COACH Jim McElwain
(on concern for the flood victims in Colorado)
"Hopefully we can get all of this rain out of our system. I know it's going to be awhile before you get back to normal with how much we had. Our thoughts are with (all) the people who have been displaced; this is something that they have to fight through as far as moving forward."
(on Saturday's win over Cal Poly)
"I thought there were some very good things, as I thought (there were) the first two weeks. We found a way to do things towards the end that I thought was really good and that helped the psyche of the guys in understanding what it takes to get you into a situation to win. Now let's go get it. That was good to see. I really believe it now, having looked at it some more and dissecting it. I really believe that it was truly a whole team effort and a whole team win. There were some good things. We have to try to get rid of some of the penalties that are hurting us, yet we were able to overcome some offensively, which was the first time in two years that we've done that. At the same time, we need to eliminate those unforced errors that we have to get much better at.
"On the injury front, (RB) Eric Williams will be out probably for another three to four weeks. We came out of (the game) fairly healthy. (Joe) Hansley and (Charles) Lovett will be day to day to see how they can perform. If they can't perform and go on Wednesday, then they won't make the trip. Other than that, we came out pretty good maybe with just some of your normal stiffness. Bernard Blake will have his shoulder looked at and Jason Oden, who was hurt a little bit in the last game and didn't play as many reps, but he felt fine which was good to see. Jordan Vaden came back and played okay. We really have to get him to play hard on every down and not take downs off. He fought through some injury things, which was good to see.
(on this week's game at Alabama)
Getting ready to play this game, one of the things I know from being there is that there is no letdown. People could point out that they just had that huge win over a nationally-ranked team. One of the things that they do as anybody in the country does is that it doesn't matter who you're playing, it's about playing against yourself. It's about how you do every single day, in every single snap to get better. They will use some things from that; I'm sure the numbers there put up by A&M and by that quarterback, they'll use that motivation to come back this week and try to shut us out. We tell our guys it isn't about the mystique, about the history, or about the tradition; it's about an opportunity to measure yourself against the best. In life, it's something all of us strive to do. `How do I strive to be the best at whatever that may be?' We're playing against the best. They'll want to put a complete game together, on offense, defense and special teams in a dominant performance. That was one of the things that was neat about being there: It doesn't matter who the opponent was because the important thing was how you move forward, how you get better, and how you perfect your craft. These guys are going to come out ready to roll."
(on the experience of playing at Alabama)
"The only reason you should be scared is if you're not sure. There's no reason to not be sure about what you're doing. It comes down to your preparation , what we do today, what we do in this period, what we do in red area, skelly... what we do in team force, what do we do, and what we teach. How we prepare ourselves to put ourselves in a situation to go play hard, how we measure our abilities, who we are, and what we're all about against the best."
(on his former QB AJ McCarron)
"I think AJ's playing as well as anybody in the country. I'm proud of that; he plays the game the way it should be played and he knows when to take his shots or when to take his check downs. He has a true command now; he's doing a lot more checks based on what the defense is giving him. He's a guy, in my opinion, that is as good of a player as anyone in the country. In his position, he does more for his team in an offensive standpoint about getting people involved. I think he really understands that. I'm not excited about watching from the other sideline, but at the same time they're doing a good job offensively as you can tell in the last game. They matched it score for score. It was impressive to watch."
"I probably did a lot more to screw AJ up than I did to help him (smiling). It's great to see that he has overcome what I gave him early, now he's really playing well."
(on being back at Alabama)
"It's really strange with the coaches that are there, the people in the organization as well. I find myself looking at the wrong side of the film sometimes. I'm excited for our opportunity and the organization's opportunity to go see the `Mecca,' to see what it's all about."
(on visiting the Mecca, but focusing on the game)
"Part of it isn't just our players, the majority of it is our whole organization to go out and see what it means to do your job, no matter what it is, as well as you can. When you go through that stadium and see how immaculate everything is, how the people who take the tickets take pride in what they do. How the people in the parking lots handle whatever their job is or the people who handle the game day operations. It is the best and they take pride in what they do. What I'm getting at is to not allow mediocrity in anything. It doesn't matter what it is. That's what I'm excited for a lot of people to see. The way you guys are going to be taken care of as you go. I think you'll find from that standpoint, you feel and know that you are at someplace special. I think our approach and what we need to understand is, who gets an opportunity to go match yourself against the best? Who? You can't say that every week as a competitor. They guys who are afraid, I'll leave them home. I'll see it in their eyes; they're not getting on the plane. I want the guys who are down there to compete in every single down and not worry about anything, but how they prepare and their ability to do their job. That's what we're looking for. We're not going to go down and throw a bunch of tricks. We're going to go down and measure our program and we'll get an opportunity now in a couple of years to go back. It's a little bit like finding a base line and then see where we're at. I expect our guys to be excited, as they should be. 102,000 fans will be there, that's a season's worth. You should enjoy that. They deserve that because of what they have put into this program, this town, and this university. I'm excited for them in that regards. The speed and the size of the game are going to hit them, but at the same time it isn't about them. It's about us and how we go and perform on each and every play.
(on needing the team to play a complete game)
"All three phases. These guys have some `creatures' running up and down the field in their special teams. Our guys have been pretty darn good especially when you think about the improvement from a year ago. We do a thing called `lions and gazelles' and these gazelles and lions are real. So they need to go match their energy and effort and everything against those lions and gazelles. I think it should tell us something along with each guy and where they're at".
(on the approach to Nick Saban's approach)
"The plays we missed last week, was about it being them or us? There may be some plays this week about it being them because they've got some glass eaters and fire breathers. That's recruiting. At the same time, let's not look at that as a negative towards us. Let's go out and play a fast tempo, a physical game, and play hard. Enjoy the experience. That doesn't mean to laugh or giggle. There are only seven teams that get an opportunity to go and play at Bryant-Denny Stadium and we're one of them. That's an experience people will take with them for the rest of their lives. That's cool."
(on Saban's successful coaching style)
"His attention to detail, he never wavers off course, yet he stays as current as anyone. He doesn't sit, he's always moving for what they can do better. No matter what it is, there is always a review of anything they do over how they can get better or what they can do. The process in which everything is detailed; those guys know exactly what they're doing in practice today. They know that they have to compete or they won't be playing. They know on Tuesday what exactly is going to be installed and how it works. Wednesday and Thursday, it's a detailed machine; they go in before Thursday's practice and get the first eight (plays) introduced. Those guys can recite the first eight and not even have to call them into the huddle. They take such pride in their preparation to go dominate an opponent and to not just win. They go to dominate their opponent and to dominate every play. It's fascinating, the guy is something special."
(on Nick Saban's approach)
"Look at how he's approached recruiting. He's always staying current, always a step ahead, and always from the evaluation process through. He is by no means a control freak. There are a lot of outside people just trying to pick and find out whatever. No, the guy's detailed. He's a hard worker and he wants you to be complete in what you do, in every aspect. Well last time I checked, that's the blueprint for any organization and Fortune 500 company there is. Be detailed in everything you do, work hard, and be complete in what you do; don't leave little things hanging out. Within the organization every part is important and he understands that it doesn't matter who it is, it has relevance and importance for that place to be successful. He does it like nobody else."
(on Nick Saban's influence on him)
"It's interesting because you take a little bit from everywhere. I had an old professor who used to call it the cafeteria effect. You take a little bit here and there and put a meal together. Dr. Jim Watson, I love that guy. Obviously recently being (at Alabama), the latest, some of that is the freshest, but the one thing that I do know is that I cannot be Nick Saban, nor can I be Pat Hill or John L. Smith, or Dick Zornes or Cliff Hysell, or Art Shell or whoever it may have been. I can't be that guy, I have to be myself. What I have tried to do is import and impart a lot of the things that we did there and have done some other places. Hopefully put my own personality on it as to who I am and what we're all about. I think if you asked our kids they know how much I'm in it for them and if you ask former players they'll tell you the same thing."
(on Colorado State fans gaining the Alabama gameday experience)
"That's a great question. That may be a good one for my wife because I didn't get much of an opportunity to see that other than on the bus ride and seeing that tailgate. I think that the walk before the game as you go by the statues and enter the front of Bryant-Denny, that's pretty cool. Any of the barbecue that you can get right by those tents. This being their first home game I expect a pretty good crowd and a lot of enthusiasm."
(on his players at CSU)
"We're getting there and there are a lot of factors that go into it. It isn't just about money, sometimes people think it's the nice facilities and this and that. It isn't. It's about how you approach every day and how anybody who touches your organization approaches every day. If you accept mediocrity, go somewhere else because that's not acceptable. People's interaction and personal touch doesn't cost anything. That means hard work and taking the extra step to do what it takes to be great. I have seen a ton of turn-around in the short time that I've been here, In a lot of phases, and I think the people who try to take shortcuts figure out that I get a little impatient with that. Yet it isn't personal, nothing's personal, all I expect is for us to do our job as hard and as good as we can and then we'll let the chips fall from there."
(on game approach against Alabama)
"I don't think we're going to be scared. They're going to go down there and think, "Wow, this is pretty cool." Nervous is when I used to play `horse' or `pig' with guys for money and not have the money in my pocket. That puts some pressure on."
(on keeping focus with big crowd)
"There's no way to simulate it, but there sure is a way to embrace it. What a great deal. They came to Colorado State and they get an opportunity to go play the best. That's it, let's go."
(on not taking plays off)
"That's the mentality that I'm talking about. There lies the difference between the program we're going to see and lot of other programs. There is no play off; there is no play off in practice. You're either getting better or you're getting worse, there's no staying the same. If I take days off or plays off what does that say about who I am and what kind of character I have? Character is something that happens when no one is looking. A lot of time guys take plays off because they're in the middle of it and they think, `Oh I'm not going to get caught for this, I'm going to catch a little breather.' That defines a lot about the guy. Defensively as a whole, there were some guys that took some plays off and didn't do the exact technique that needed to stop the triple option. The big trap that they hit, the guy is supposed to come under. We played it perfect three other times, no gain. The one time we didn't come under, the one time the backer the wrong way over the top, the guy went and hit his head on the goal post. That was the only thing that stopped him on that, was the goal post. If we missed running into the goal post, he'd still be running. That's the only thing that stopped him on that."
(on Shaquil Barrett)
"He's the guy that even last year when he was injured played his tail off and did a lot of things. I would like to see him take more initiative to help this defense even from a vocal stand point. I tell him to be proud of what you put on film. He's a guy that you can honestly say that a high majority of the time can actually look at it and his teammates can look at it and say that he should be proud of his play because he played hard."
(on PAT defense)
"When I was a special teams coordinator the first thing I went to was field goal, PAT (points after touchdown), and field goal block. What the field goal block told you about a team is their true character and how hard they play. That's the first thing we used to go to. It really says a lot about a football team, a lot about a culture, on what many people think is an insignificant play. The teams that go as hard on that one as they do on everything else, they've got something to them. That's kind of what I'm getting at. I see where we're going as a program and that's absolutely correct. You show me the ones that take those plays off and there's a big chance they're going to take other plays off too. That says a lot about who they are."
(more on Saturday's game)
"All our guys are not playing this game or playing the game of football thinking that they're any worse than anybody else. They're going to run into some big guys now that run really fast, hit really hard and play the game in a violent and purposeful way.
(on hesitation of Alabama's technique)
"I say match the intensity. Any time you go play anyone there's that chance and if you're worried about that then just stay here and watch it on TV. "
(on preparing for game time)
"When they hear Bear Bryant's voice on the JumboTron and they show the great plays in the history of Alabama football, they can take a minute, look at it, and realize that they are at a place. Now let's talk about our first eight, our musts, let's talk about the keys to the game and let's go out and play."
(on the effect that has)
"It's a separate being that goes through that stadium. It makes my hair stand up on my arm right now and even after being at the games there, there is something pretty special."
(on avoiding ghosts)
Everyone who goes on the trip, don't get caught up in the history and the mystique. It's hard not to, it's part of the home field advantage. Yet, enjoy it and respect it, but don't fear it.
(on Nick Saban's future)
"I love the way he approaches the dynasties because each team is different. There is no dynasty, the teams that won before, they did it. The guys who are there right now did not do it even though they might have been part of that team. What are you going to do to stamp your name in that dynasty? It's never about defending a national championship, you don't. None of those guys are there, a lot of those guys are gone. It's now what do you do this year in preparation to win one, or to win a SEC championship, or to win every home game. Whatever that is. I think it's pretty fascinating how he keeps everybody grounded and focused on every day."
(on players getting confidence after Cal Poly win)
"It's huge, we needed that. There is no doubt, we needed that. I knew where we were at when I saw the hurt and heard the silence after those two loses. Before I'm not sure they ever recognized that they could've won them or should've won them. It shows me where we're headed, and that to me means a lot."
(on taking this team to Alabama)
"I'm excited about it, but as I've said this has nothing to do with me or the fact that I was there. It has to do with what it's going to do for our players and organization. Let's go measure ourselves, let's evaluate and move forward. We have a long season ahead of us and we haven't even touched into conference play yet. It's going to be another learning tool for us, we're going to come back and evaluate and move on to the next one. Right now, it's about preparing for this one and that's the way it has to go."
(on whether this can be a "turning-point game" for a program because of the quality of the opponent)
"There's no doubt in my mind. They won't play against a team that is this big and this fast, it's just the way it is. Any team can beat a team on any given day, that's the age-old deal. Now what you take from it in understanding how hard they played the game and did you match the intensity or are you willing to match the intensity is going to say a lot about your character and will to win. It makes a ton of sense on a from a measuring standpoint."
(on whether it makes a difference at what point in the season this game is played)
I'm glad for the opportunity where ever it fits. I like it more in the front than towards the back because we have some rivalry things we have to take care of towards the back and in the middle of our conference play. The fact that it's on the 21st night of September, one of the greatest songs Earth Wind and Fire has ever produced, I'm good with that. It's on the i-pod and plays a lot as a matter of fact."
(on Alabama's defensive line)
"They play with such great technique, discipline and assignment. They know which guy they have to control in order to let the other guys make the plays. Their ability to transition from run to pass is something you don't see from a lot of guys, and obviously their sheer strength and size, the way they snap, and control blockers. Our offensive line will not go through anyone that is that violent with their hands and that disciplined with their gaps, which makes their pad level and steps that much more precise."
(on Colorado State's defensive line improvement)
"They still need to get a ton better, but we have some body's there, some choices. You see how we're running some guys through and trying to keep it fresh. If they're not controlled in their gap these guys have some backs that can not only hit it but can finish it. We have to be able to be gap-disciplined and wrap-up in tackling. Competition breeds consistency at every spot. These guys are starting to see that it isn't just their right to be able to play; they have to produce in order to get those valuable snaps. It's one of those areas that we've become a little better at and will continue to get better. I think that's going to be a bright spot for us in the future."
(on specific players' improvements)
"Calvin Tonga, in spurts, has done an outstanding job. I love to see him consistently play the way he can. I`ve been really happy with him. I think LaRyan King has made some real strides. Terry Jackson, if we can get him to be precise every down, he's a guy who has some explosion and quickness and can make some plays. (Joe) Kawulok's done it, the guy has stepped up and he's starting to learn how to play with some pad level and use his body length to his advantage. He still gets stuck on some blocks here and there, but he's grown up. I'm sure I'm missing some guys. Eli (Edwards) plays his tail off, sometimes maybe a little out of control, but he does bring energy to these guys and sometimes I like to see that."
(on taking from Alabama's approach in video review)
"It's something we've done in the off season. Seeing that this is how it's supposed to be done with this speed, tempo and violent nature. It's hard to duplicate, but let's go measure ourselves. They're in cut-ups already. They should see what it is. They've seen it, now let's go emulate it."
SR. CENTER Weston Richburg
(on how team should approach game against Alabama)
"Nobody is expecting anything from us outside of us, so there should be no reason to go in tight or nervous. It is good to be nervous, but we just have to go in and play the game; it's football. We are playing in a bigger stadium against the No. 1 team in the nation, so nobody is expecting anything from us. We might as well go out and hold nothing back."
(on what he is most excited about)
"I've always been the guy that has been at a smaller school. There has always been speculation about how guys from smaller schools play against guys from bigger schools, so I'm anxious to see what it is like to play against the best players and the best competition. I like playing in pressure situations, and I think playing against the No. 1 team in the nation is about as pressure-filled as it gets."
(on growing up in Texas helping him with bigger environment)
"I've spent many Saturdays going to Kyle Field which is where Texas A&M plays, and I've been down to Texas Tech a lot. This will be very similar to what you see at Texas A&M, so I know what to expect and I don't think it is going to be a shock to many of my other teammates; they've seen it on TV and they know what it's going to be like. We have to be able to handle the noise because it is going to be really loud, so I think that is going to be one of our biggest issues. I'm really looking forward to being able to go out and play though."
(on whether they are more relaxed playing in a game where they have nothing to lose)
"I think we should be. Me personally, I won't. I get nervous about lifting in the morning, so I might throw up a couple of times. There is no reason to be up tight or to be nervous about it, because nobody is expecting anything from you."
(on where the team is at right now)
"I'm not going to speculate anything; I'm just excited for the opportunity. Anytime you want to find out where your program is or how you are doing, you always want to compare it against the best; that's what we are facing on Saturday. Going against the best team in the nation is the only way to tell how you are stacking up against the best in the country. We are really excited about the opportunity."
(on being excited to play against Alabama)
"I'm very excited. I've had it on my calendar for a very long time, so now that it is finally here it is very surreal. I started to watch some film last night, and I'm just very excited about it. It's going to take a lot of preparation for myself as well as my teammates to be able to go in there and move the ball and do some of the things we want to do. It's a very exciting time; we're glad it's finally here."
(on what jumps out on film about Alabama)
"They are great athletes; they are big strong players. What I've noticed most, especially on the defensive line, is that they are able to rotate a lot of players. They keep fresh players in and they are players that are all equally capable. That's a hurdle that we'll definitely have to overcome. They have great players. It's going to be a challenge."
(on confidence from win last week)
"That win couldn't have come at a better time. It's good to have that one before you go into a place like this. It gives you some confidence going forward."
(on matching intensity of Alabama)
"We just need to get excited, and be excited for our teammates when they make a play. We are all working together, so we might as well have fun while we are doing it. Emotion ties in with fun, so if we are making plays then we need to get excited about it and really enjoy the experience."
(on focusing on what CSU does and not what Alabama does)
"If we go in and execute, I think that we will be able to move the ball pretty well. We had some times this past weekend where we were shooting ourselves in the foot though and that was nothing they did but stuff we did. If we can eliminate those, I think we'll have a good shot."
(on whether team needs to play perfectly to win)
"It's the No. 1 team in the nation, so you have to play well and well enough to beat them. I think that's as easy as it gets (to describe) I think."
(on playing an SEC team)
"Like I said, they are able to rotate pretty frequently which is something that you don't see in our conference. I was trying to get a good idea of who their best guys were up front, and it seemed like they were never in for more than one play at a time. They all were able to contribute. They have a lot of depth and a lot of big, strong and athletic guys. I think that's a big SEC thing."
(on the biggest crowd he has played in front of)
"I think it was 67,000 maybe. This will be a little more I think (smiling). I'm excited for it though, this is what you play football for."
(on taking in the experience)
"For me personally, I don't take it as an experience. I go in with the mindset that we are going to play a game and compete against the No. 1 team. You just take it in while you are playing."
SR. CB Shaq Bell
(on his feelings on this game)
"I'm excited. It's the No. 1 team in the country. I've been there before in 2010 when my brother (T'Sharvan Bell) was playing for Auburn and it's crazy loud, you can't even talk to the person next to you. I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can when I'm out there."
(on what his brother has told him about playing at Alabama)
"That was their main rivalry, the Iron Bowl. He just told me that it was going to be a tough one and that we are going to have to fight to the end and we are going to have to play for four quarters."
"Well, today in practice we are just going to have to work on our hand signals. I guess we'll just have to not talk as much and just use as many hand signals as we can and just communicate with hand signals."
(on Shaq Barrett being named Mountain West special teams player of the week)
"That's still a defensive play. He was working really hard to block that field goal and he got the job done so it's just showing that he's not giving up on the play. Usually (people) think it's just a field goal so they won't go as hard. He's just kept that energy going to make that play."
(more on Shaq Barrett's blocked field goal)
"It just shows you how much that game meant to him and how important that game was to win. Just him not taking a play off just made everyone excited on the sideline. There was a lot of celebration going on, it was great. I don't know if people were counting on him to make that play, but he did it, and he gave the people something to see."
(on how to game plan for Alabama)
"They're a pretty balanced team. So overall, we're just going to have to put some more preparation and film in, and going harder at practice. Just taking it personal and having it mean something to you, to study as best you can."
(what he sees on film of Alabama)
"Well I only gotten to watch one game vs. Texas A&M (so far). Just the speed they have is crazy. They have like three different running backs that played, all their receivers were fast and they are just big too."
(on Alabama QB A.J. McCarron)
"He just sits in the pocket. I guess his offensive line improved from the first game, because he was just sitting in the pocket. Sometime he had to scramble, but he kept his eyes downfield and made a good throw."
(on playing an accurate quarterback like McCarron)
"Your coverage has to be very tight and you have to compete with the receivers and just go all-out to win that down."
(on if he thinks Alabama can be rattled)
"I'm not sure. But we're going to try to."
(on getting a good vibe early)
"Well, we have to get a couple three-and-outs. We're going to have to make some big plays. Turnovers, we're going to have to get turnovers in this type of game. We're just going to have to play fast like we've been doing, everybody getting to the ball and just competing."
(on what makes Alabama so good)
"They don't have many mistakes, offensively. Defensively, they're getting the ball. Their special teams were very good the first game. It's just a sound team that's fundamental."
(on if he thinks they can win against Alabama)
"I believe we can. We're going to go in there expecting to win. A lot of people won't believe in us, but we believe in us."
(on hearing anything on campus or in class about playing Alabama)
"This girl in my class. She didn't believe we could win. I'll just ignore her" (smiling)
(on having doubt going into Alabama game)
"There has to be no doubt. You can't go in there scared, because if one person plays scared then that could mess up the whole game. Everybody has to focus in on what they're supposed to do. Just go out there and have fun and compete."
(on not having anything to lose against Alabama)
"I don't see it that way. I see it as another football game. They're human just like us and they put pads on just like us. I just see it as another football game."
(on taking it all in)
"Just when we first get there, walking on the field, getting to look around at how big the stadium is. After that, we'll go back in the locker room and just focus."
(on where he was in the stadium watching his brother)
"I was in the stands in the nosebleeds surrounded by all their fans, it was crazy. I was cheering for Auburn, I had my Auburn sweater on."
(on getting to test yourself against an SEC opponent)
"You know, I grew up a Florida Gators fan. The SEC overall is just a powerhouse. They dominate everything, like other conferences. I finally get to play (there) myself so it's going to be big. I'm definitely going to try and have fun as much as I can but, overall, just trying to play a good game."
(on keeping their morale up if they go down early)
"The leaders are going to have to step up early and talk to the team letting them know that it's four quarters of football and one quarter doesn't determine the whole game."
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