Rams have final tune-up before scrimmage

April 4, 2012

By Nick Frank
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - With anticipation building between coaches and players for Friday's scrimmage, the CSU football team was back outside on the practice fields for a final tune-up.

While the team was admittedly excited to get out on the field in a game-like situation, it remained focused at Wednesday's practice. Head Coach Jim McElwain noticed some positives in the last few practices.

"They are hustling and kind of know where to go now; the routine is starting to hit them," McElwain said after practice. "It is good to see - I tell them, `If the whistle blows and you don't know where you are going, run around in circles so that it looks like it until you find where you are supposed to be.'

One player that seems to be getting a grasp on how things are run is Garrett Grayson. The second-year quarterback credited a lot of his increased understanding to the coaching staff. He also believes an increased emphasis on team has been important this spring.

"Coach Mac always says he wants us to be a team," said Grayson. "We win as a team, we lose as a team. We don't lose as a defense, lose as an offense or vice versa."

McElwain said the team will probably run 110 to 125 plays, which both sides of the ball will be more than ready for, according to Grayson.

"As a defense player I'm sure they are excited (to tackle)," said Grayson. "I don't know how big of a difference it'll be. I'm sure people will be out there laying some hats, hitting hard. (Chris) Nwoke has been wanting to go full-tackle the whole time, so he's been dying for it. I know the o-line want to go full speed; anybody who's out there hitting each other they all want to go full speed."

For fans wanting to get a view of the 2012 Ram football team, Friday will be their first opportunity. The scrimmage will start at 3:45 at Hughes Stadium and be open to all fans.

Other post-practice quotes from McElwain

On the offensive line:

"We are getting beat a lot. Our sets are not great and it starts with the center snap. We put in two-minute today and were very sloppy with that offensively. It was the first time doing it and it was a new routine so we will get a good practice on that at practice at the stadium on Friday."

On what he expects from Friday's scrimmage:

"What you hope to do is get each unit probably about 25 to 30 plays and then move the field. We will have a designated third down period, designated red area (red zone) period, designated two-minute and then as situations come, use the special teams however it works. The thing we want to come out of Friday is that hopefully when we watch film, I don't jump off the top of Moby or anything. Just seeing how guys compete, that is really the biggest thing."

On if he will see another side of players during the scrimmage:

"That is all part of it; how they handle the first time in the stadium and all that kind of thing, especially the young guys who didn't get a chance to play much last year. This will be the first time that they will be live in the environment so we are kind of excited to see how they will adapt."

On if he expects certain players excel at the scrimmage:

"You always hope that. I think a lot of that is too, with a lot of cases, that you hate to see that guy because you want to make sure they are practicing every down. If something like that happens, maybe we better re-evaluate what they are doing out here (practice field)."

On how many plays will be run:

"We want to probably get the pitch count in. We want to see the quarterbacks in different situations and then the offensive line; we are still a little thing there, so you don't want to wear them out. I am hoping for a 110, 125 (plays)."

On how many players deep they are at positions:

We have kind of got four in some spots and three in others. Part of that is roster management, where we need to make sure that we have enough in each spot. Right now, we are a little heavy in some areas and weak in others. We need to make sure that when we get to our fall roster, that we have managed those numbers correctly."

On if the first-team defense will go against the first-team offense:

"It is going to be mixed based on whatever we are practicing, whatever the situation is."

On how excited he is to see them in action:

"I just hope I can find my way to the stadium and they don't start without me."

On how quick the team is adjusting to his tempo of practice:

"Today and yesterday's practice we really focused on using the shot clock. Quarterbacks being aware of where they were at (with the play clock), I have to make sure they are alert of that. That is something that in the stadium, they will be able to be aware of where those shot clocks are and getting us in and out so we are not wasting time."
 
Garrett Grayson:

On whether there is more pressure in Friday's scrimmage with a new staff:

"I don't feel like there is a ton of pressure. I feel like we need to go out and kind of prove and show what we've been doing for these first seven practices and how much we've improved. Coach (Billy) Napier was saying he was talking to a ref who was at the first and second practice then missed three, four and five then he came back for six and he said we look like a totally different team. I just want to keep improving and keep going in so we can carry it into fall ball."

On how he has grasped the offense:

"Personally, I feel like I've grasped it way better than I did last year. I'm way more comfortable with reads and the ball coming out quicker. Last year, a lot of times, I felt like I was hanging on to the ball too long and it would result in a sack. So I'm getting the ball out a lot quicker and making hot reads correct. I feel like the whole offense is getting to me."

Whether the adjustment is easy because of experience or is it a simplified system:

"I definitely feel like the system is more simple. They narrow it down and make it easy for college kids; they know we have homework and all that kind of stuff and other things going on in our lives. So they make it easy for us. The whole thing I've grasped a lot better. We make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, but they don't get on us. They bring us off to the side and coach us up."

On having play clocks at practice:

"It helped but I think it made a lot of people kind of panic. Now they actually see the clock up there and see how fast we that we have to go; it is obviously much faster than we've been going. It helped get us ready for Friday but it definitely made us panic. We got that panic out of our system, so Friday we should be good to go."

On what he's expecting to see from the defense on Friday:

"As a defense player I'm sure they are excited (to tackle). I don't know how big of a difference it'll be. I'm sure people will be out there laying some hats, hitting hard. (Chris) Nwoke has been wanting to go full-tackle the whole time, so he's been dying for it. I know the o-line want to go full speed; anybody who's out there hitting each other they all want to go full speed."

On a change with the wide receiver:

"Yeah, and the ways we are getting people the ball. Thomas Coffman was a guy that just ran straight up the field last year and we just tried to get him the ball on deep routes but now we're getting him under routes and he's able to show how quick he is and shifty. Just using peoples abilities and being smart with that, getting guys like Lou (Greenwood), Thomas and Charles (Lovett), real small guys in space. It is better in that aspect."

On whether the offense is tailored towards the players:

"I definitely think that. Coach Mac is always talking about wanting us to be a team. He is never getting on anybody, I mean, he'll chew you of course; if he is mad about something, or you keep making the same mistake, just like any coach would. He really coaches you up, he'll take you to the sideline, coach you up and tell you exactly what you have to do. If you don't fix it you're going to get yelled at, he wants you to fix it and he expects perfection. Coming from a place like Alabama, seeing what he did, you have to buy into what he is trying to teach you."

On respecting McElwain:

"Knowing the background he has, it makes you respect him a lot more and it makes you listen to every little detail he's giving you. He's got kids with Heisman's, runner up Heismans, 48 wins, I think it was, in four years. So it makes you respect him a lot more and you really want to learn from what he is telling you."
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - With anticipation building between coaches and players for Friday's scrimmage, the CSU football team was back outside on the practice fields for a final tune-up.

While the team was admittedly excited to get out on the field in a game-like situation, it remained focused at Wednesday's practice. Head Coach Jim McElwain noticed some positives in the last few practices.

"They are hustling and kind of know where to go now; the routine is starting to hit them," McElwain said after practice. "It is good to see - I tell them, `If the whistle blows and you don't know where you are going, run around in circles so that it looks like it until you find where you are supposed to be.'

One player that seems to be getting a grasp on how things are run is Garrett Grayson. The second-year quarterback credited a lot of his increased understanding to the coaching staff. He also believes an increased emphasis on team has been important this spring.

"Coach Mac always says he wants us to be a team," said Grayson. "We win as a team, we lose as a team. We don't lose as a defense, lose as an offense or vice versa."

McElwain said the team will probably run 110 to 125 plays, which both sides of the ball will be more than ready for, according to Grayson.

"As a defense player I'm sure they are excited (to tackle)," said Grayson. "I don't know how big of a difference it'll be. I'm sure people will be out there laying some hats, hitting hard. (Chris) Nwoke has been wanting to go full-tackle the whole time, so he's been dying for it. I know the o-line want to go full speed; anybody who's out there hitting each other they all want to go full speed."

For fans wanting to get a view of the 2012 Ram football team, Friday will be their first opportunity. The scrimmage will start at 3:45 at Hughes Stadium and be open to all fans.

Other post-practice quotes from McElwain

On the offensive line:

"We are getting beat a lot. Our sets are not great and it starts with the center snap. We put in two-minute today and were very sloppy with that offensively. It was the first time doing it and it was a new routine so we will get a good practice on that at practice at the stadium on Friday."

On what he expects from Friday's scrimmage:

"What you hope to do is get each unit probably about 25 to 30 plays and then move the field. We will have a designated third down period, designated red area (red zone) period, designated two-minute and then as situations come, use the special teams however it works. The thing we want to come out of Friday is that hopefully when we watch film, I don't jump off the top of Moby or anything. Just seeing how guys compete, that is really the biggest thing."

On if he will see another side of players during the scrimmage:

"That is all part of it; how they handle the first time in the stadium and all that kind of thing, especially the young guys who didn't get a chance to play much last year. This will be the first time that they will be live in the environment so we are kind of excited to see how they will adapt."

On if he expects certain players excel at the scrimmage:

"You always hope that. I think a lot of that is too, with a lot of cases, that you hate to see that guy because you want to make sure they are practicing every down. If something like that happens, maybe we better re-evaluate what they are doing out here (practice field)."

On how many plays will be run:

"We want to probably get the pitch count in. We want to see the quarterbacks in different situations and then the offensive line; we are still a little thing there, so you don't want to wear them out. I am hoping for a 110, 125 (plays)."

On how many players deep they are at positions:

We have kind of got four in some spots and three in others. Part of that is roster management, where we need to make sure that we have enough in each spot. Right now, we are a little heavy in some areas and weak in others. We need to make sure that when we get to our fall roster, that we have managed those numbers correctly."

On if the first-team defense will go against the first-team offense:

"It is going to be mixed based on whatever we are practicing, whatever the situation is."

On how excited he is to see them in action:

"I just hope I can find my way to the stadium and they don't start without me."

On how quick the team is adjusting to his tempo of practice:

"Today and yesterday's practice we really focused on using the shot clock. Quarterbacks being aware of where they were at (with the play clock), I have to make sure they are alert of that. That is something that in the stadium, they will be able to be aware of where those shot clocks are and getting us in and out so we are not wasting time."
 
Other post-practice quotes from Grayson:

On whether there is more pressure in Friday's scrimmage with a new staff:

"I don't feel like there is a ton of pressure. I feel like we need to go out and kind of prove and show what we've been doing for these first seven practices and how much we've improved. Coach (Billy) Napier was saying he was talking to a ref who was at the first and second practice then missed three, four and five then he came back for six and he said we look like a totally different team. I just want to keep improving and keep going in so we can carry it into fall ball."

On how he has grasped the offense:

"Personally, I feel like I've grasped it way better than I did last year. I'm way more comfortable with reads and the ball coming out quicker. Last year, a lot of times, I felt like I was hanging on to the ball too long and it would result in a sack. So I'm getting the ball out a lot quicker and making hot reads correct. I feel like the whole offense is getting to me."

On whether the adjustment is easy because of experience or is it a simplified system:

"I definitely feel like the system is more simple. They narrow it down and make it easy for college kids; they know we have homework and all that kind of stuff and other things going on in our lives. So they make it easy for us. The whole thing I've grasped a lot better. We make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, but they don't get on us. They bring us off to the side and coach us up."

On having play clocks at practice:

"It helped but I think it made a lot of people kind of panic. Now they actually see the clock up there and see how fast we that we have to go; it is obviously much faster than we've been going. It helped get us ready for Friday but it definitely made us panic. We got that panic out of our system, so Friday we should be good to go."

On a change with the wide receiver unit:

"Yeah, and the ways we are getting people the ball. Thomas Coffman was a guy that just ran straight up the field last year and we just tried to get him the ball on deep routes but now we're getting him under routes and he's able to show how quick he is and shifty. Just using peoples abilities and being smart with that, getting guys like Lou (Greenwood), Thomas and Charles (Lovett), real small guys in space. It is better in that aspect."

On whether the offense is tailored towards the players:

"I definitely think that. Coach Mac is always talking about wanting us to be a team. He is never getting on anybody, I mean, he'll chew you of course; if he is mad about something, or you keep making the same mistake, just like any coach would. He really coaches you up, he'll take you to the sideline, coach you up and tell you exactly what you have to do. If you don't fix it you're going to get yelled at, he wants you to fix it and he expects perfection. Coming from a place like Alabama, seeing what he did, you have to buy into what he is trying to teach you."

On respecting McElwain:

"Knowing the background he has, it makes you respect him a lot more and it makes you listen to every little detail he's giving you. He's got kids with Heisman's, runner up Heismans, 48 wins, I think it was, in four years. So it makes you respect him a lot more and you really want to learn from what he is telling you."