Defense looks to learn from last year’s mistakes
FORT COLLINS» There were too many big plays on the day, and that didn’t sit well.
Colorado State coach Mike Bobo wasn’t pleased with what he saw out of his defense in that regard Thursday, but the rest of it he liked. There were stops on third down, and the unit was able to turn away the offense in the red zone and on fourth down, goal-line plays.
He’s told the group repeatedly, things won’t be perfect, but stops like that can become the difference in winning or losing.
“That’s maturity. That’s not losing confidence,” Bobo said. “That’s realizing I’ve got to line up and play the next play. That’s a sign of maturity. We’ll know more Saturday.”
Until the CSU defense starts providing positive results in a consistent manner, that side of the ball will remain under the microscope. They know it, they welcome it and they’re ready to prove things are different.
Much of their confidence is based on the growing pains they experienced last year and how they’ve learned from them. When the 2016 season began, the Rams had eight new starters on defense that were not ready to face Colorado.
Now, Evan Colorito has 13 starts he’d never had before. So does Jake Schlager, and Josh Watson, Jakob Buys and Tre Thomas know what it’s like to go through a full season with a host of struggles and some tastes of success.
Toward the end of fall camp, and into the beginning of spring, the growth is starting to show.
“You can definitely tell a maturity difference, because there’s people that have been there before, they know what to expect,” Schlager said. “I think last year, the season that we had, we had our ups and we had our downs, and we definitely grew and matured through those downs and we excelled through the ups. We learned from last year, and we know what to expect and what we have to do to go above and beyond and get to that next level and not take a step back during a couple of weeks and play games poorly.”
The goal is to be able to handle the ebbs and flows of a season, even a particular series, without starting to question themselves as players and a group.
Where defense coordinator Marty English sees the change most is the approach at practice and in meeting rooms.
The players he brings back are starting to feed the mantra to the newcomers, an important group that so far has provided effort, energy and competition across the board.
Bobo said Saturday’s scrimmage will basically break down to one half of work for the team, split up among the top three groups. The session starts at 1 p.m.
Bobo expects 40-45 plays for each of the top two units, with 25 or so for the third group.
Parking lots open at 10 a.m. for fans coming to attend. It is a free event, but all are asked to get tickets at the ticket office before entering.