You better run, because you can’t hide. In their final practice of the week, the Rams had to maintain a strict focus throughout their drills if they want to start.
“The understanding is that there is no rep that has any less importance,” Coach Jim McElwain said after Saturday’s practice. “Everything we do, we take pride in our performance.”
With so much depth at almost every position, competition has been a stressed theme of Fall camp, but today’s practice had a different feel.
Though still focused on putting his best players in the starting lineup, McElwain is focusing on establishing team pride in each individual player. Be it the starting quarterback or the back-up kicker.
“We find out who is committed and who isn’t, there is no hiding,” McElwain says. “Be proud of what you put on film. That’s part of the progress that is gonna take us where we need to go.”
The steps to the progress involve one of McElwain’s old friends from his days at Alabama, where both he and Trevor Moawad worked under the creative genius of Nick Saban.
Moawad is now the Vice President of Mindset Programs, part of a company called Athletes’ Performance.
McElwain bought into the mentality of Athletes’ Performance, which focuses on the entirety of a player, not just his physical presence and statistics.
“The belief is that you can educate and train all areas of the athlete,” Moawad says. “We wanted to holistically develop this system at Colorado State.”
One of the first items on Moawad and McElwain’s agenda; higher a full-time sports psychologist, who would stay with the athletes throughout the summer. The duties would entail giving support to the players via music, movies, and establishing a self-confident mindset.
“What most colleges do, is bring in a Navy Seal for a Bowl game. That’s like you or I setting a goal for a New Year’s resolution, I blow that by halftime of the Rose Bowl,” Moawad said, grinning.
Moawad mentioned that though his field of work is still small, the programs that have implemented it are headed by coaches who had direct contact with Nick Saban. With the Crimson Tide rolling into the preseason atop every other college, it’s no surprise those close to him have cottoned on to his methods.
Besides discussing said Saban-methods with McElwain, Moawad took time to speak to the team, and to check-up on the progress his pal has made over the past year. He is pleased with what he saw.
“If you don’t own something, it’s easy not to care about it, but if you can get the kids owning the team, they’re going to take it a lot more seriously,” says Moawad. “That’s what McElwain is doing here, creating a shared ownership and a shared responsibility amongst the players as well as the staff.”
The Rams have earned themselves a 44 hour break before they get back to the grind on Monday.
Sophomore safety, Trent Matthews (accelerated heart rate) has been cleared to play, after undergoing tests on Friday, but was held from practice on McElwain’s account. “We stole his helmet, he’s ready to go, but at this point, there isn’t any reason for it.” McElwain said. “He was actually angry at me today.”
Junior linebacker, Max Morgan and senior tight end Austin Grey both ran drills on Saturday, but are yet to participate fully in practice.
True freshman D-lineman, Austin Berk and junior O-lineman Mason Myers, both dealing with leg muscle issues were held from practice on precautionary measures, but are expected back Monday.
Sophomore D-lineman LaRyan King left practice early with an aggrivated hamstring, but is expected back on Monday.
“The big thing to me is how the guys understand, this is the time to help your recovery, commit to being in the training room and take care of your legs,” McElwain said of the much-needed break.
Football Beat Reporter, Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org