Nov. 1, 2012
FORT COLLINS, Colo.--Shaq Barrett found out quickly how important Colorado State's Border War football rivalry is with Wyoming.
A year ago, having transferred to CSU from Nebraska-Omaha when the latter school dropped football, Barrett was new to the Border War scene.
"When I first got here I really didn't know anything about the Border War; I just took it as a regular game. As the game progressed though, I saw some players on the Wyoming side of the ball take it a lot more seriously," he said of his indoctrination to the series.
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 250-pound junior from Baltimore found out quickly how much the rivalry means to both sides.
Rams' Coach Jim McElwain has made no secret of the Bronze Boot's importance throughout the week of preparation for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game in Laramie.
"This year, I heard Coach McElwain talk about the boot, and I didn't know the significance of the `Boot,'" Barrett said. "Coach McElwain explained the story that one of our graduates went over and fought in the Vietnam War, and we brought his boots back home. Once he told us that story, we just know that we have to fight for it."
Barrett enters Saturday's game third on the team with 52 tackles, including a season-most 15 against North Dakota State. He has started all but two games - 18-of-20 - in his CSU career. A year ago, he led CSU with 99 tackles, and was named second-team All-Mountain West by one publication.
A year later, Barrett said he and his teammates know the relevance of Saturday's Border War clash.
"Seeing a video of Wyoming guys on YouTube mark the calendar of the countdown to the game, we see how big of a game it is to them. We are trying to have the same enthusiasm towards it, especially for the younger guys who haven't known the story of the boot. Seeing that video also fueled more fire and just added to the excitement of the week."
CSU enters the game having defeated Hawaii, 42-27, a week ago in a Mountain West matchup. Barrett said the victory has done wonders for the team's confidence.
"To get our morale and confidence back up is great for the coaches and players. We always knew that we were a great team but we hadn't been able to put it together fully to win a couple of games. We are trying to build a couple of games back-to back so we can build more confidence and work our way to a .500 season," he said.
He also knows Saturday's game with Wyoming brings a host of challenges. The biggest? Containing talented quarterback Brett Smith, who averages nearly 300 per game in total offense.
"He's a good runner and passer. We have to contain him and make sure everyone knows their assignments," Barrett said.
Barrett knows the biggest assignment for the Rams: Return the Bronze Boot to Fort Collins.
Saturday's game can be seen live on KTVD/My20 in Denver. It will be broadcast live on the Colorado State Sports Network, including flagship station KLZ (560 AM) in Denver, KCOL (600 AM) in Fort Collins, KSIR (1010 AM) in Fort Morgan and KNZZ (1100 AM) in Grand Junction.
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