Rested and refocused, Colorado State football is back on the grind again.
Sitting with a 4-4 record overall, 2-2 in the Mountain West, and needing to win at least two of the four remaining contests to become postseason eligible, CSU head coach Mike Bobo is ready to get back to work and prepare for Fresno State (1-8, 0-5 MW) and focus on November football.
“We want to put ourselves in a position to play in the postseason and we’ve talked about that, how we want to finish the year,” Bobo said during his Monday press conference. “You’ve got to finish it the right way by having a good week this week at practice. If we have a good week of practice then we ought to expect to play well on Saturday. Nobody is going to hand us a ballgame.”
The Rams went into the bye week playing their best football of the year having nearly completed a dramatic comeback against Boise State and dominating UNLV 42-23. While the bye week was used to get players, and coaches, rejuvenated and ready to finish the season strong, carrying over the momentum after a week with no Saturday football will be vital for the team to finish the way it wants to.
How does that happen?
“Leadership of your football team, stating with me, of setting the tone in (meetings and practices) that anything less than a championship practice is not acceptable, and we don’t accept it,” Bobo said on how the team can carry over the momentum from the previous two game weeks. “I’d rather it come from the players than from me. If it’s coming from the players, then we’ve got as chance to finish strong. If it’s coming from us (the coaches), it will be a fight. We’ll find out today what kind of mindset we have as a football team when we approach practice. You can’t just go through the motions.”
This late in the season, bumps and bruises are abundant. According to Bobo, it is not the physically tough, but rather the mentally tough players who will ensure the team continues their recent success.
“This is the time of the year where you’ve played eight games, it’s a grind, and the mentally tough guys are the ones who are gonna push through and have success late in the season,” Bobo said. “That’s what I expect out of this football team but the leaders of this football team have got to set that tone, it can’t just be me and the coaches.”
The Rams were not sitting on the couch all week. The team was still showing up to work every day, just working on themselves rather than prepping for an opponent.
“It was a chance to get better without a test on the weekend,” said offensive coordinator Will Friend. “Basically, that is the way we looked at it.”
“Mentally, a break from the grind of the same routine and having a game,” Bobo added. “Working extremely hard all week and then having to go do that on Saturday, it takes a toll on you so to have that mental break of having a week off to get healed up, to focus on the fundamentals to get on track academically, just take a step back and re-focus for the month of November.”
Having the week off offered a time for the coaches to go on the road and catch up on some recruiting, while at the same time take a bit of a mental break from the grueling schedule they have become accustomed to. Now that the bye week is over, it’s back to business and prepping for a struggling Fresno State team under the tutelage of interim head coach Eric Kiesau.
“We are in a game week mode, bye week is over,” Bobo said. “We got to sit around and watch everyone else play, some win some lose. Now, it’s our week to go back to work. Where do we want to be at 4:30 or 5:00 o’clock on Saturday? Do we want be be 1-0 on the week? If that’s what you want, then we better go to work this week.”
CSU returns to the field Saturday Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m. for the penultimate game at Hughes Stadium.
Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman