For the Colorado State Rams, Friday night’s 44-7 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes in the Rocky Mountain Showdown was personal and embarrassing. That much is clear.
“It hits you,” defensive lineman Jakob Buys said. “Especially getting beat (44-7). (When) they beat you that bad it’s like everything you worked for just went away and you didn’t work hard enough, you didn’t prepare hard enough. Everything that you thought you did right, just was wrong.”
To lose a season opener by 37 points is bad, but to lose to an in-state rival and be dominated for much of the game, that hurt is different.
It was an embarrassing loss for the program, Bobo was sure about that. But he was not embarrassed by the way his team responded to that loss.
The coach said players were in the facility all weekend going over film and asking for grade sheets from the game, eager to move forward.
“I think they are a conscientious group that is very very disappointed and embarrassed like we all are of the way we performed,” Bobo said. “They want to represent themselves in a better way and they want to represent this university and this football team.”
In how he was trying to move forward with his team, coach Mike Bobo cited the book “The Energy Bus,” by John Gordon. The description for that book reads, “it’s all about getting your team on the bus and moving in the right direction with a shared vision, focus, and purpose.”
That’s where the coach and his team are trying to move to now, but Bobo took it one step further.
“We are gonna lock the doors of that bus. We are in it in this room, if things don’t go well that’s when outside influences sometimes affect how you are trying to do things,” he said. “We got to stay close in here we can’t let anything outside this program or even inside for that matter affect how we go about our business.”
Something Bobo and offensive coordinator Will Friend stressed this week was that they can not let CU beat them twice. There can be no hangover from this game. They lost, and it was personal, but it’s a long season. They can’t get bogged down in what has already happened to this team.
It starts by locking the doors to the bus that Bobo wants his team on.
“They are 18 to 22 (years old), when you get embarrassed like you did tonight by your in-state rival that’s when things are said, that’s when people start taking shots,” Bobo said. “That’s when people outside the program question what we are doing. But we talked about being a family, and families stick together. This is when we have to be tighter than ever.”
The team knows there are plenty of outside distractions after a loss like that, and that there are a lot of questions that can not be answered just by going out and playing another game.
It is a process, but the players and the coach insist that process has been in motion for almost a week now.
From the second the game ended on Friday night, it all became about moving forward on a united front.
“Everyone has to stick together in that locker room and just come together as one and continue to grow and trust each other,” safety Jake Schlager said. “That’s where teams grow the most, is when you get beat like that in that kind of fashion. You really got to stick together and see who is with you and who is without you.”
To get that locker room where it needs to be, that’s when the leadership needs to step up Bobo said. To keep those doors locked, and everybody within those doors together, it comes down to him and his veteran players.
Guys like Schlager, linebacker Kevin Davis, or tight end Nolan Peralta. They should know, they have all been there before.
“A lot of those seniors and upperclassmen really put it on their shoulders to move forward,” Peralta said. “We have come off of a tough loss before so we know how we can’t let this week affect us in the upcoming week. It’s just guys buying into that and looking towards the older guys on the team and having them set the standard as far as what we are going to do as a team.”
On Saturday afternoon, the team has a chance to show how much they have grown since the Showdown loss. A lot of that comes down how effective that leadership has been and how well the players have responded.
One thing is for sure, they know that they don’t want to be worried about the same things come next week.
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5