Good things come to those who wait, and the CSU football team has indeed waited. They waded through the frigid Colorado air during winter workouts, weighted during Spring football to trim down and bulk up, and waited on the requirements of their coaches in the sweating heat of summer.
Now they are done waiting, and they are itching to prove themselves to their fans at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
“We’ve been ready, we were ready after summer, we are eager to go hit somebody else rather than each other all day,” senior tight end Crocket Gilmore said. “We had a great spring, great summer, we’re excited.”
They have every reason to be excited. This game is the first of Gilmore’s last season as a Ram. He and his teammates want to win. Not only is it their first opportunity to showcase their fresh talent, but it’s against the most hated team in the Ram community, the University of Colorado.
“We are all looking forward to the CU game, that’s all we can talk about right now,” junior tight end Austin Grey said. “Big time stadium, big time rivalry, it’s something to look forward to.”
The team is confident in their ability to start the season off with a win, but it has little to do with the result of last year’s showdown.
“We’re a completely different football team, they’re a completely different football team,” McElwain said. “It’s the same field, different day, there’s really nothing the same.”
CU underwent a personnel overhaul, similar to what CSU did the year before, and have a new coach in Mike MacIntryre. Still it’s easy to imagine McElwain saying something similar regardless of the opponent.
He is a stickler for approaching every game the same and never allowing his team to become complacent.
“One of the things we lacked was size, and we weren’t very fast,” McElwain said. “That’s not really a good combination.”
Therefore, over the course of the offseason, he grilled his team to increase in speed both mental and physical, in strength and in connecting with each other.
Fall camp was a physically grueling process for both the offense and defense, but the familial aspect McElwain established upon arrival may have made the biggest change from last season to this one.
“Getting through camp, it’s a lot easier when you care for the guy next to you,” junior halfback Kivon Cartwright said. “Having the camaraderie on the field and in the locker room, it helps you get by.”