CSU football spring notebook: Practice 9

April 9, 2013

By Stuart Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Inclement weather forced the Rams to push Monday’s practice, originally scheduled to be held at the outdoor practice field south of Moby Arena, to the indoor practice facility on Tuesday. 

A change in schedule and environment ended up providing some challenges that Head Coach Jim McElwain addressed afterwards. Chief among them was a lack of focus and intensity, areas that did not transfer from the outdoor practice sessions and Saturday’s first scrimmage.

It provided another “teachable moment” that the head coach was able to present to his team to underscore the need to cherish each of these 15 spring practices.

“You have to truly compete every day to get better in everything you do,” McElwain said. “Now the challenge is to come tomorrow and get better in the film room and learn from what happened today.”

The team was able to work on tuning up some aspects of the offense and defense that the coaches saw while grading film from Saturday’s scrimmage. McElwain said he was generally happy with the scrimmage after seeing it on film and admitted it was ‘bland’ but they were left with some areas for instruction.

“Situationally, I thought some guys handled some situations well and I thought some guys didn’t, but that’s all a part of learning and we got some teaching done yesterday,” McElwain said of yesterday’s film session.

The second-year coach did talk about how pleased he was with the improvement of the defensive line, which racked up 5.5 sacks Saturday.

“I think they have done an outstanding job,” McElwain said. “I think Coach (Greg) Lupfer has done a heck of a job with that group considering there really aren’t any veterans in there. We’ve gotten better at that position.”

Tuesday, with limited space, the offensive line kept working on finding their best five players. Last season the unit saw a switch in blocking scheme and it began to click the final five games of 2012. Offensive line coach Derek Frazier spoke after practice about the noticeable improvement in his o-line.

“I think up and down the board each guy is improving and that’s what you want to keep seeing,” Frazier said.

Senior Weston Richburg, a three-year starter at center, has been taking reps at guard and tackle during spring ball. This speaks to Richburg’s team-first attitude and will be helpful if the o-line faces injuries as they have in the past.

“It is a testament to himself and the knowledge,” Frazier said. “You have to train your body a little bit differently when you move from the center, to the guard, to the tackle. It’s different techniques, different situations, different timing. It’s a testament to him and how he is able to simulate each situation.”

The bad weather has forced Wednesday’s practice back to Thursday as McElwain hopes to get back outside for  another practice. The Rams will watch practice film Wednesday and get back on the practice field Thursday around 3:30 p.m.

Important Dates:

Infinity Park Practice: For the second consecutive year McElwain and the Rams will travel down to Denver for a public practice. With more than 43,000 alumni living in the area, the Bold New Era has included an emphasis on connecting with that group of Rams.

Colorado State will practice at Infinity Park in Glendale on Friday, April 12 starting at 5:30 p.m. The practice is free and Ram Town interactive area will open at 4 p.m. Ram fans can purchase 2013 season tickets and official apparel. Food and beverages will be available.

2013 Spring Game: The Rams will conclude their second spring camp under McElwain on Saturday, April 20 as fans are invited to attend the annual Green vs. Gold game.

Starting at 10 a.m., the Ram Town interactive area will open and two hours later the spring game will kick off. Admission is free and fans will have an opportunity to purchase 2013 season tickets and take pictures with CAM the Ram and cheerleaders.

For more information about both events click here.

More quotes from Head Coach Jim McElwain 

(on offensive line)
“I think Weston (Richburg) has done an outstanding job of adapting to not only tackle but some guard and Freddy is doing a good job at center, so that gives us some flexibility.” 

(on Richburg taking reps at guard and tackle)
“I’m really proud at the way he has embraced what we are trying to do from a team standpoint. Showing his versatility is only going to help him down the road.” 

(On new OL blocking scheme)
“I wanted them to actually try to be physical and not just fineness and if you look back on the successful Colorado State football team it started with a physical presence on the offensive line that pushed you backwards. I played against them, I know. What you’re saying is guys starting to figure it out.” 

(On new Tight Ends Coach Art Valero)
“Having a guy of his quality, of his pedigree and his expertise is helping our whole offense. It is interesting to get a guy like that, that has the background and being able to tie it all together.”

(On TE improvement)
“I’ve seen them in the run game get better and be conscious about it and that’s really going to help. Crockett has a chance to be a dominant force as a blocker, which there again, is only going to help him down the road.”

Quotes from offensive line coach Derek Frazier 

“The progress we made through the season and the last five games was great. We made a ton of progress. Our whole goal is to start from where we left off and actually try to get better.” 

(on offensive linemen playing multiple positions)
“You never know in the course of the season so to have people who are able to play multiple positions just makes you that much more flexible.” 

(on Weston Richburg)
“He’s a competitive guy and when he’s challenged he rises up. His drive is what makes him a great player because he wants to be the best and doesn’t want to let someone beat him. If that happens he will push harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Quotes from tight ends coach Art Valero 

(on tight ends)
“Both of them (Crockett Gillmore and Kivon Cartwright) are great young men and we have a great group. Not just those two but every kid that is in that room, they are like sponges.” 

(on whether Gillmore or Cartwright will matchup across a CB)
“I would hope. Football is a game of matchups and whether its man or whether it is zone, if you put those guys outside and a corner goes with them, you know it’s zone but if a safety or linebacker goes with them you know it’s man. They may bluff, they may show but now it shows their hand.”

“If we can do that, it just helps our quarterbacks, it helps our play caller, it just helps the whole system.” 

(on coaching philosophy)
“I’m going to reinforce the good things and get on them about the bad things and I’ll explain to them as much as I can because there is a ton of reps. Where it has really been great in the spring is having those film sessions and being able to say, ‘look at it and tell me what you see; critique yourself.’ Once they can critique themselves and repeat what you tell them, you know it’s sinking.” 

(on whether the Rams offense can line up in two TE sets more often)
“I’d love to. I don’t like bringing just one guy; I’d rather bring two. If I could bring three that would be even better.” 

(on Colorado State’s fullbacks)
“Whether it be Jake (Levin), Joe (McKay) or Joe Brown, those guys have done a great job. Fullbacks in this present day and age, they don’t make them anymore. We happen to have three of them and because we aren’t a two-back system, there is a spot for them doing the same thing, but it’s just not as many times. Having coached the fullbacks, everything we talk about, from blocks in the backfield to blocks on the move, they’ve done a great job of really grasping it.” 

(on Martavius Foster)
“He is one of those guys that is so great, every day you see him grow up a little bit more and more. It’s like most JC guys, you have to knock the JC out of them. You have to get the ‘me out of me’ but he is making strides. All of a sudden he will flash and you say, ‘I know you got it.’”

“Nothing is better than competition. If he gets to the point where he threatens Crockett, then Crockett is going to elevate his game. I told them day one, my expectations of you guys are right here (holding hand up) and when you meet mine then I’m going to up the ante. So you’ll never meet my expectations.” 

(on potential of Gillmore and Cartwright)
“I’ve been around some pretty good tight ends and they’ve got the material to be able to do that. It’s a matter of them going out on Saturday’s and putting on a show and allow everybody else to evaluate them from there. They have top end potential.”