De­fense looks to learn from last year’s mis­takes

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

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.

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