CSU's McElwain likes energy out of team

March 28, 2012

By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – If Head Coach Jim McElwain could get his team to be as consistent as the Colorado sunshine these past few weeks, the coach would be happy on a number of fronts.

For now, the coach will enjoy the sunshine.

“This weather with no humidity is awesome,” said McElwain following Wednesday’s practice.

As for his team, that is a work in progress. However, the coach is beginning to see improvements from his squad on a daily basis, ranging from its energy level to its discipline on assignments. 

“Practice kind of went on instead of enduring the practice,” said McElwain. “They got a little more energy and that is what they need to do.”

One group in particular that the coach can see developing is the defensive line, which he thinks is a credit to the players and defensive line coach Greg Lupfer.

“I am really happy with their discipline right now,” McElwain said. “They have been holding their gaps and understanding the importance of their job is what they need to do. They are getting there.”

One of the areas of concern for the coaching staff since taking over has been the lack of size up front. To combat this, they added a handful of walk-ons which McElwain holds in high regards.

“I can’t wait to get my picture taken with all five at the end of spring practice because what they have done to help this team be successful, whether they ever step on the field or not, they are probably more important to the success than anyone here,” said McElwain. “I really appreciate what they are doing.”

A point of emphasis this spring has been to bring a winning attitude every day.  McElwain will get to see if the team continues to bring an increased energy level and focus to the next practice, which is Friday.

On practice:

“Practice kind of went on instead of enduring the practice. They got a little more energy and that is what they need to do. Now they key is, can they put two back-to-back? The thing you hate do is when you let them know they did well, there is sort of a letdown. We let them know, I was excited about the way that they practiced. Now they key is can you put two of them back-to-back.”

On being a head coach:

“First of all, some of the periods really drag on. Then you find yourself making sure to take notes and not disrupt the drill and make sure you make the points that need to be made but don’t slow the tempo down. I am really happy with the way our staff is coaching; they are really coaching with energy, coaching up and getting the drills moving really well. I am really happy with that.”

On if he spends more time with the defense because he is unfamiliar with it:

“It is funny but I have kind of forced myself to go over there and look but I find myself wandering back (to the offense). That is definitely something that I have been doing. I want the defense to know how important they are to the scheme of what we are trying to do.”

On his expectations about being a head coach:

“There are certain expectations – the one thing that I wanted to make sure is that on an everyday basis that each and every one of these players knew how much I cared about them and we care about them as a staff. Sometimes you get the feeling that as a coach, we want it more for them than they want it for them. I think once they get the idea that we are in this thing together, it will help.”

On the confidence of having one punter:

“The thing is that I have told (offensive coordinator Dave) Baldwin and the guys on the offensive staff, ‘If you ever punt, you’re in trouble.’ We have actually started to develop some backups and we have guys coming in the fall.”

On the pieces of the team he likes:

“Right now, we really look good at stretching. I get excited about that.”

On implementing new plays:

“We really got to start working third down and more situations today and also some personnel groupings. I thought both offense and defense handled the substitutions really well; they handled the up tempo, no huddle stuff really well too.”

On running a three-man front defensively:

“It is still back and forth. We are going to be in and out of both and the thing right now is to find where the best positions, based on the scheme are going to be.”

On fullbacks:

“I think the biggest thing is, being in a lot of different offenses as we all have, is making sure that if we find those guys that are good at certain things that we obviously we are going to have some two-back (sets). At the place that I just came from, and most places I have been, I haven’t had a fullback. I don’t even know what the guy does.”

On Broderick Sargent missing practice:

“He has a class issue. He is one of those guys towards graduation so it is important that he is there. He catches what he needs to rehab wise at different times.”

On if Sargent will be medically ready for fall practice:

“We are planning on it, that’s the plan. Until that time comes, you never know.”

On the lack of size up front:

“We have more linebackers and safeties on the field than anybody in college football.”

On if the lack of size concerns him:

“Well yeah. They are just going to have to play with better leverage, better hands and eyes, and hold in there and control their gaps.”

On if you can scheme around the lack of size:

“It is something that you have to do. Like I said, this is a discovery phase on who we are, what we are, and who we have. From there, after 15 days, re-evaluate and say, ‘You know what? We have to go in this direction.’

On if he has already made those adjustments:

“It isn’t scheme at all right now. In fact it’s blocking, tackling, playing with your eyes, playing with leverage and your hands, taking the right steps, taking shorts steps and finishing.”