The word is poison to the ears of coaches, especially CSU head coach Jim McElwain. He lives to win – name a football coach who doesn’t – and Boise State has spurned him of that pleasure for three straight years after Saturday’s 37-24 loss.
That aside, the third-year head coach would be the first to say it was only a big game because it was the next one. And while that is usually the case, the Rams headed into the 2014 season with dreams of the Mountain West Championship.
Boise was their biggest milestone, and now one that they failed to conquer. But, according to players and coaches alike, this team is nothing if not resilient.
“A lot of people were down; we knew they’re in the Mountain Division, so we need them (Boise State) to lose a couple games now,” quarterback Garrett Grayson said. “We have a long season ahead of us. We still have 10 games – hopefully 11 … There’s a lot still to play for. The season isn’t lost by any means.”
However, in order to make it to the championship game in December, Boise will need to lose at least one more game, while the Rams have to be near perfect in conference play. And while the Broncos were likely the toughest team on the schedule, it is still a tall order.
As always, McElwain has his team taking it one week at a time, and this week the focus is on the University of California-Davis. Despite the differences in both talent and playing style, Grayson and running back Jasen Oden said the loss to Boise State helped them outline what needs to be done to win in the future.
“We need a fast start on both sides of the ball,” Grayson said. “We kind of stalled after our first drive, and when we looked at film, there was a lot of things I could have done. At the end of the day, if you lose, nothing feels good.”
Oden, who scored his first touchdown as a Ram Saturday also felt the excitement was diminished with the loss.
“We don’t always want to be fighting back at the last minute … We had a lot of critical errors looking back at film,” Oden said. “We need to go out and strike first, give the blow instead of always taking blows.”
McElwain is not worried about the future of his team, but he recognizes the errors that need to be fixed.
The Rams’ run-game against CU was prolific, while their passing struggled, where the reverse occurred in the Boise game. McElwain is a firm believer that balance is the key to winning games, and that won’t change.
“If we are throwing for 400 yards, we are playing catch-up, and that’s not what we strive to do … We will strive to stay as balanced as possible,” McElwain said. “There’s no doubt that we are a better football team. We have to go out and prove it week-in and week-out. We can’t play in spurts.”Football Beat Reporter Micky Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @c_rasta5.