Defense seeks right at­ti­tude for prac­tice

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - Love­land Re­porter-Her­ald By Mike Bro­hard Mike Bro­hard, Love­land Re­porter-Her­ald

FORT COLLINS» The right ap­proach, ev­ery prac­tice.

That’s the path Colorado State’s de­fen­sive play­ers say needs to be taken to get off the roller coaster that was 2016 and be­come the defense they know the Rams can put on the field ev­ery game in the up­com­ing cam­paign.

The group can no longer lean on youth or in­ex­pe­ri­ence, which were valid talk­ing points a year ago. In short, they know bet­ter, or they should.

“You’ve got to be phys­i­cal, for one. It’s go­ing to be a phys­i­cal sea­son from Game 1 un­til we get to a bowl game,” se­nior de­fen­sive line­man Dar­nell Thompson said. “That starts with prac­tice. We have to have a game men­tal­ity ev­ery day we step on the field. We have to hold ev­ery­body ac­count­able. Let’s get to­gether. We know we can do this.

“Last year, no­body had played. This year ev­ery­body has ex­pe­ri­ence. There’s no ex­cuses.”

Colorado State coach Mike Bobo talked to the defense be­fore camp be­gan about hold­ing one another ac­count­able ev­ery play of ev­ery prac­tice, and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Marty English re­it­er­ated the mes­sage.

To Bobo, it’s all about pride and do­ing what it takes. To have the tools to not just stand up to the fight but to bring it to an of­fense, buck line­backer Evan Colorito said the at­ti­tude had to start with the first day of camp.

“It can sound cliché, but I think it comes from prac­tice,” he said. “If you’re as con­sis­tent as you are in prac­tice, that will trans­fer to games. I think hav­ing a lot of se­niors on defense will help. We had a few last year, but we have more this year, more ex­pe­ri­ence. I think our drive is much more than it’s been in the past few sea­sons.

“It’s just be­ing A-plus on all your as­sign­ments, hus­tling ev­ery sin­gle play and great com­mu­ni­ca­tion, work­ing as one with 11 in­stead of hav­ing a few guys do­ing their own thing. I think even in our walk­throughs in the morn­ing, we’re very sound with a lot of en­ergy, then com­ing out to prac­tice and the line­backer will talk, and the safeties will. I think we’re rolling pretty well as a defense. I haven’t re­ally seen that since I’ve been here, so we have po­ten­tial to keep it go­ing.”

Last sea­son was an odd one on defense. The Rams ranked poorly in nearly ev­ery de­fen­sive cat­e­gory, and much of what ailed them stemmed from al­low­ing too many yards on the ground: more than 214 per con­test. They didn’t help them­selves by al­low­ing teams to con­vert 49 percent on third down, and they cre­ated only 14 turnovers.

Then they shut out Fresno State, the first time the Rams had blanked an op­po­nent in nearly 20 years.

“You’ve got to get one more stop, you’ve got to get one more stop on a third down, one more stop in the red zone, but it’s pride,” Bobo said.

Colorado State line­backer Josh Wat­son, right, locks in dur­ing cov­er­age drills at prac­tice. The Rams’ defense strug­gled for much of last sea­son but did shut out Fresno State.

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