Q&A with head coach Jim McElwain from Monday press conference

Emmett McCarthy

Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain took questions from the media at his weekly press conference Monday. The Rams are on a bye this week but McElwain spoke about the Hawaii game, the health status of Rashard Higgins, being ranked in the top-25, and more.

Question: How did you feel about the depth you were able to showcase against Hawaii?

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McElwain: What a good win for us. We had a lot of guys who played, which was outstanding. There were some great efforts defensively.

Q: How does it feel to finally crack the top-25?

McElwain: It’s very satisfying. I’m very excited for our staff and our organization, and the work that they have put in. These players have obviously committed themselves to a higher level. It’s neat, but it can be very fleeting as well if we don’t take care of our business.

Q: What has changed in player’s attitudes to create such a culture shift within the program?

McElwain: It’s a year-round commitment to themselves and this community. We talk about the will to win, but it’s really the will to prepare. Guys have really understood how to prepare and we’re seeing it in our academics as well.

Q: The bye week comes at an interesting time, how will you use it to prepare?

McElwain: We had a pretty good stretch here between byes. Normally you’d like to have it balanced out just a little bit better but we’re at the mercy of the schedule makers. We’ll get a lot of work against each other, especially on defense. With the two unique offenses that we’re going to be playing (New Mexico and Air Force) we really need to sure up some things.

Q: What does New Mexico bring to the table when you come back from bye?

McElwain: This game coming up the following week is a team that we still haven’t stopped. If it was not for the clock running out last year, I think they would still be running down the field on us.

Q: What are you going to focus on in preparation for those last two games?

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McElwain: We’ll do some option-specific things, some tempo-specific things. We’ll have some individual drills that we’ll carry over from here on out. And offensively, understanding the importance of ball control and making every possession count, when you’re going against these next two offenses, is something you have to focus on.

Q: Higgins did not play against Hawaii, how is he doing and why did you decide to hold him out?

McElwain: He should be doing fine. Whether he could have played in the last game? I think he could have. With his competitive fire, he wanted to be out there, but I don’t think that’s fair to put somebody out there who is 60-70 percent. But he will go this week.

Q: What was Higgins’ attitude like on the sideline?

McElwain: He was into it. You could see it on the sideline when guy’s were coming off. He was excited for them. I didn’t want him to chest bump anybody because he could have hit his shoulder, but he’s one of those guys you like to have in your program because of his energy.

Q: Garrett Grayson’s been fighting a groin injury. How did he look in terms of his mobility?

McElwain: I thought he moved around pretty well in the game. We could have bootlegged with him, but we didn’t need to. But that obviously will be back in the repertoire as we move forward.

Q: Where does the team go from here?

McElwain: There’s nobody immune to getting better, and we’ve got to get better this week. That’s something I talked to [Grayson] about after the game. This is as important of a week as we’ve had all year because it’s an opportunity for us to get better and that’s how we have to approach it.

Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.