This trend has led the CSU football team to become more comfortable with each other, allowing it to move forward with lengthier and more in-depth practices, expediting progression as a team that has McElwain leaving the field after practices with a smile on his face.
“We were able to, based on where we’re at, move forward a little bit and increase the install, which also means situational football,” McElwain said. “I thought both sides of the ball had their moments today where they were starting to understand the importance of certain things and details of where you’re at on the field and —”
McElwain stopped mid-sentence while talking with the media Wednesday afternoon to give praise to junior tight end Martavius Foster as he walked toward the exit gates.
“Martavius you did good today, buddy,” he said.
The comfort between the players and coaches has been increasing with every stint spent on the field together.
“We’ve had the time to all get on the same page. Coach Mac has been talking about it, how we’ve needed to get each other better on the offensive side going against the defense, and the defense going against the offense,” junior wide receiver Austin Gray said. “We can’t brother-in-law each other, we have to go hard to make each other better.”
The Rams are striving to fill the hole left from a 4-8 season and the loss of seniors.
The defense has been a focal point, experiencing the aftermath of losing their entire starting defensive line, forcing some players to shift to different positions.
“We’re having to change things up but it’s actually turning out really good so far,” sophomore defensive lineman George Maumau said. “Right now we’re playing a whole different scheme, we’re way different from last year. Those guys before set the tone and we’re going beyond that, we’ll be way better.”
Maumau is one of the more than 60 underclassmen on the official roster going into the spring season. For some of them, they may get their chance sooner than expected.
“They just need a little bit of encouragement. It’s up to us to talk to them, motivate them and lead by example,” senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. “The coaches already do it, but I think our two cents helps too, they listen because we’ve been in their position before.”
McElwain’s eye has been on the sixth practice since before the spring season officially began, explaining that things would be in full swing by this point. Now clicking at full speed, the Rams have 11 remaining practices allowed by the NCAA.
“It’s really important because these days are limited, we can’t get them back,” Barrett said. “We have to come out here and use everything as an opportunity to get better, we’re short on time and have to be ready to go at all times.”
Football Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.