CSU football still optimistic despite disappointing start

Almost a year ago, the Jim McElwain era started at CSU, with promises of a bold new era and an increased enthusiasm around the program and many viewed the 2012 Rams as a team that could buck the trend of three consecutive 3-9 seasons and possibly compete to play in a bowl game.

At the midway point in the season, with a 1-5 record, those goals will be difficult for the Rams to achieve, at least this year.

But that doesn’t stop the Rams from remaining optimistic about the rest of the season.

“We’re staying positive,” running back Chris Nwoke said. “Each and every day we’re coming out trying to get better — that’s the key. I think that’s what makes us a good team because even though things aren’t going our way we’re still staying positive, still working.”

And the Rams have a mountain of work in front of them if they want to salvage the rest of their season.

Offensively, the Rams have had difficulty all year grasping McElwain’s new offense while having the sixth-worst scoring offense in the nation at the midway point in the season. But according to the first-year head coach, it’s not just the scheme that needs to be adjusted.

“The plan just needs to be executed at a higher level,” McElwain said. “You say, ‘OK do you dumb it down?’ Yeah, we’ve dumbed it down and still miss this here or there, so that’s not what it is.

“You know what it is? It’s the understanding that every play is an individual event and it must be treated as an individual event no matter what happened before, what you think might happen after, doesn’t matter.”

Acknowledging that the season cannot be won or lost on any single play is what the Rams have said they need to remember.

Instead, each individual needs to focus on what they do to get better and take care of their assignment one play at a time in order for the whole team to start playing better.

“Take it a day at a time, just get better every single day,” linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. “That’s our goal, just get better every day and we’re going to finish it with a great season.”

In order to reach one of their goals from the preseason — making a bowl game with a .500 record — the Rams will have to go 5-1 in their last six games this year.

There is a new provision in the NCAA rulebook that would allow a 5-7 team to make a bowl game, but that would serve as an unlikely sixth tie breaker if there were not enough bowl-eligible teams to fill every bowl game in December.

The easiest way for the Rams to make a bowl game would be to win five of six games, a feat they have not accomplished since October of 2005.

“Just find a way to get some wins and find a way to get to a bowl game,” Nwoke said of the Rams’ goals at this point in the season. “It’s still possible, we’ve still got just enough games. We have to execute each play and play with some passion (so) we have to be perfect and we have to execute every rep on the field.”

Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.