The wildly popular Geico commercial featuring a camel on hump day epitomizes this season for the Rams. They are stuck on the hump between failure and success, but they are happy to be there.
After Saturday’s loss to San Jose State, the Rams have fallen to a 2-4 record but they have had every opportunity to be sitting pretty on 5-1 instead. Though he is frustrated that Alabama isn’t the only game they’ve lost, head coach Jim McElwain isn’t ready to push the panic button.
“There’s lots of disappointment, a lot of hurt, but that’s good,” he said in Monday’s press conference. “We are putting ourselves in the position to win. I’m not sure we had done that for a lot of years.”
Of course, it almost hurts worse to be a hair’s width away from a win and end up with a loss than if it wasn’t an option in the first place. But while the Rams had spent ample years in the latter category, they haven’t had much experience with the former. They intend to take full advantage.
“It’s like taking a punch, but we are going to punch right back and come back stronger the next time,” offensive tackle Brandon Haynes said. “If we execute, we are going to come out on top.”
After watching the film from Saturday’s game, McElwain regained some of the gumption he had lost after the tough loss. While he had never given up on his team, he said it was reassuring to recognize the mistakes that occurred were not due to a lack of effort.
A year ago, McElwain could have easily pinned a loss on the motivation of his players. But since then, he has worked to change the mindset of his team, and the SJSU game film confirmed his success.
“I wondered as I was going to watch this video if it was a lack of intensity,” McElwain said. “But these guys are playing hard now, I didn’t see that all the time when I first got here, I’m seeing it now. I see the investment these guys have made, and I trust them.”
That being said, McElwain only intends to push them all the harder, to get them up and over this hump of error, and into the field of continued success. In the first half of the season, the Rams have shown more than competency and glimpses of certain greatness.
It is only a matter of getting there, and staying there — a process which the team has found to be a frustrating, but ultimately worth it.
Senior defensive back Shaq Bell would much rather be where his team is today, versus the predicament they found themselves in a year, or two years ago.
“It wasn’t horrible watching the film,” he said of the San Jose game. “Last year was a lot worse. It’s definitely frustrating, because you see the mistakes on film, you correct them in practice and then sometimes it happens the next game. But you can’t lose confidence, just have to stay with what you’re doing.”
Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.