Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell believes one of his 0-2 team’s biggest problems is the lack of preparation and the postponement of weekly prep to game days.
Norvell said some players understand what it takes to prepare properly, while others clearly don’t. He also said a great week of training wasn’t worth much if the team took a step back when the competition got real.
He hopes a renewed focus on that preparation this week will translate into success on Saturday when the Rams travel to Washington State.
“I think we still have a ways to go to understand what kind of preparation you need to have,” Norvell said. “We have them for a few hours in the morning and we have them for a few minutes in meetings, but they have classes and they have other responsibilities. Good football teams all over the country, they come back and watch movies, they get together with their coaches, they spend extra time really tackling the game plan. We have guys who have done this and others who don’t understand this at all. We have room for improvement in this area and it is part of teaching a football team how to win and how to prepare to win.
Norvell went on to say that there is a certain level of commitment you need to have in your preparation and he and his team make that clear to the players.
While the Rams’ loss in their first game of the season against a top-5 team from Michigan was expected, they were expected to play better in their home opener against Middle Tennessee last Saturday.
CSU trailed 34-0 early in the second quarter and despite 19 unanswered points, it was too little, too late.
An example of preparation came on Saturday when the Rams, already with one offensive lineman out, had to deal with another leaving the game.
Prior to the game against Middle Tennessee, left tackle Brian Crespo-Jacquez suffered an injury in practice. Then early in the game against the Blue Raiders, right tackle Dontae Keyes was released through injury.
“What happened on Saturday is a good example of why everyone has to be ready,” offensive lineman Gray Davis said. “It’s not because you’re not a starter on Monday or Tuesday when the game starts, what happened on Wednesday, you can be a starter within two minutes if something happens. So everyone everyone has to prepare, and I think what happened on Saturday is a good way to show our team, listen, people told you that and it’s true. You could be in the game anytime .
Injuries do happen, but Norvell said that just means every player has to be ready to play. He used the offensive line situation as an example of that. It goes beyond the short time coaches spend with the players. That means watching extra movies and spending time with trainers.
As their coach stresses the importance of this, the players also address this process.
The players understand the point. There were no finger pointing in the locker room. Just the desire to improve and win a few games. It comes from being prepared that Norvell talked about and always being ready to step into the game if something unexpected happens.
“Just remember why, why you’re playing this game because throughout the season there will be a lot of ups and downs,” defensive end CJ Onyechi said. “You might not get the reps you want, you might not play at the level you want, you might get hurt, you just have to remember what your why and why you come to play this game You just have to be in that mindset to minimize everything because if you don’t have that mindset, you won’t be ready.
Scout the cougars
Washington State is 2-0 and is coming off a 17-14 win over the era. 19 Wis. This is the Cougars’ last non-conference game before they start the Pac-12 on Sept. 24 against Oregon.
The Cougars are led offensively by second-year quarterback Cam Ward. Ward excelled in three sports at Columbia High School in West Columbia, Texas before beginning his college career at FCS Incarnate Word where he played two seasons.
He set multiple single-game and single-season records with the Cardinals. In his freshman season, he won the Jerry Rice Award, given to the most outstanding freshman player in FCS football.
In his sophomore year, he was named Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the most outstanding offensive player in FCS football.
In two games this season for the Cougars, the Maxwell Award watchlist winner has thrown for 428 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s got a good arm,” Norvell said. ” He is sporty. He understands the system. He has talent. He can hurt you with his feet if you don’t do a good job with your rushing ways on him. We’re going to have to do a good job of containing it.
Running back Nakia Watson leads the Cougars’ running attack. He rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown in Washington State’s first two games.
The Cougars have nine receiving players this season, led by Donovan Ollie, who has 12 catches for 101 yards.
Defensively, linebacker Daiyan Henley leads the team with 17 tackles. He also has a sack and an interception.
Edge Brennan Jackson has 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Defensive back Armani Marsh has 11 tackles and a sack.
“It’s a very well-trained defense with very athletically talented players,” Davis said. “But we’ve already seen some athletically talented players and a well-drilled squad when we played against Michigan, so we know what it looks like now. They have a defense quite similar to ours, so unlike those first two games where they ran really complicated and unorthodox defenses, this should be more like something we’re used to against and should make it easier for the younger players. on the offence.”
This is only the second meeting between the two teams. CSU defeated the Cougars in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl. The Rams scored 18 points in the 2:52 final, including the game-winning field goal when time expired, to win 48-45.
A pair of starts
The Rams lost a pair of veteran players this week, both of which impacted the team in previous seasons.
The drama began on Tuesday when senior wide receiver Dante Wright announced he was leaving the team and taking a redshirt season before entering the transfer gate in December.
Wright broke through as a rookie, catching 57 passes for 805 yards and four touchdowns. His production plummeted and, under his third head coach in five seasons, he was on the court for just eight snaps in the Rams’ first two games this season.
A day later, Norvell announced that kicker Cayden Camper had left the team. A 2021 All-Mountain West honorable mention selection, Camper was named to the Ray Guy Award watch list ahead of this season.
He holds school records for field goals made in a season (25) and field goals made in a single game (six), both records he set last season.
However, in the Rams’ first two games this season, it was 2-for-3 on PATs and 0-for-1 on field goals.