Defense seeks right attitude for practice
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.