CSU’s season opener Saturday at Hughes Stadium against the Savannah State Tigers officially marks the beginning of the Mike Bobo era for Colorado State.
Not only is the game a chance for the new head coach to start off on the right foot, it could also be the 500th win in program history, dating all the way back to CSU’s first ever win on Jan. 28, 1893.
A victory over the Tigers would also mark the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Rams have started off with a win. The Tigers, on the other hand, went 0-12 last season and enter Saturday’s matchup on a 23-game losing streak.
That doesn’t mean that the Rams are taking this matchup lightly.
“We could play the number one team in the country,” Kevin Pierre-Louis said. “We’re going to treat them just the same way. We’re not treating Savannah State any different than Colorado. We treat Savannah State like the best team in the country, so we’ve got to be prepared, we still have to do everything right.”
The senior safety’s outlook on Saturday’s game aligns closely with his expectations for the season.
“It’s my senior year, so obviously I’m thankful to see that year come, but I’m expecting big things from this team,” Pierre-Louis said.
Part of the reason why Pierre-Louis has his sights set so high is because he has been a part of the team long enough to see it go from 3-9 when he redshirted in 2011, to a 10-win season last year and back-to-back bowl game appearances. The six-foot-one, 215-pound safety from Del Rio, Texas does not want to return to another season with only four wins, nor does he believe the team will.
Bobo carries high expectations for the season as well. He spent the past 14 seasons as the offensive coordinator at the University of Georgia, where the Bulldogs regularly thrived against highly-touted SEC defenses. Of the 92 games that Bobo held the offensive coordinator position for Georgia, the Bulldogs scored 30-plus points 57 times, 40-plus points 29 times and more than 50 points 13 times. In 2014, Georgia averaged 41.7 points per game under Bobo.
While the first-year head coach might not realistically expect that type of production from this offense, he still holds his team to a high standard.
“Like I tell these guys all the time, it’s not the YMCA, it’s not the Boy’s Club or little league, everybody’s not getting to play,” Bobo said. “You have got to earn your right to play on Saturday, just because you are on scholarship doesn’t mean you’re going to get on the field. You have to earn that right. If mom wants to take a picture, she can come take one in warm ups.”
In order for the team to be able to meet Bobo’s high standards, they will have to focus each and everyday, something that the coach also preaches.
“That’s going to really be the message every week,” Bobo said. “We’ve got to stick to that plan of staying in the moment today, working on what we can control. … Stay in that moment and work hard at the job in front of you and then everything will take care of itself.”
If the Rams can follow their coach’s advice and focus on their tasks one day at a time, they will be able to deal with the high expectations, and will have a great shot at getting where they want to go this season.
“I think you’ve got to embrace the expectations,” Bobo said. “I think you want to be at a place that has those type of expectations to compete at a high level week in and week out.”
Expectations are not the only thing that Bobo has to embrace either. The SEC coach has also had to adapt to the school’s new colors, especially the Aggie orange. After all, he will be surrounded by a sea of it Saturday. CSU’s season opener is going to be an “Orange Out” in honor of the school’s Ag Day.
“At Georgia we never wore orange,” Bobo said. “I don’t own anything orange… Clemson wore orange, Auburn wore orange, Florida wore orange, but I’m getting used to it.”
Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @Huebnermedia93.