Spring ball for the majority of teams means plenty of up and down on both sides of the ball. For Colorado State, it's been the offense that has come out on top more often than not. Lack of depth has been cited as a major reason for the defense struggling in spurts over the last five weeks.
Mike Bobo explained after each of the team's first two scrimmages that Nick Stevens and company got the best of the defense. The coaching staff has even go so far as to move players around positionally in the hope of jump-starting the Rams.
But even with all the question marks, Jake Schlager believes his group has made plenty of progress.
"I've seen the most growth over the last week I'd say," Schlager told BSN Denver following Tuesday's practice. "There's been more of a sense of urgency, knowing your assignment and doing your job. We've had our days where we were inconsistent and struggled and the offense had their days. We've had some growing pains here and there but we're just working those out and continuing to get better every single day."
Veteran defensive lineman Jakob Buys noted the improvement as well, specifically with his teammates gaining a better grasp of things.
"I think the most improvement we've seen is the overall understanding of our defense," Buys said. "Everyone's knowing where they have to fit and why. It's not just people fitting in this gap and you don't know what everybody else is doing. These guys are moving forward every time and we're taking bigger steps every day."
But it's not as though the improvement directly translates to results against the dynamic CSU offense. The Rams defense can maintain their assignments and execute from start to finish of a play and still find themselves being the victim of a highlight from Michael Gallup or Olabisi Johnson.
Said Buys: "It's the most frustrating thing. I'll leave practice probably every day pissed off because of this. But I go home and think about it. It just sits in the back of your head. They have playmakers and we have playmakers. So you're going to win some and lose some. But you're seeing it on our secondary all the way to our defensive line. We're competing, getting better and making our offense work even harder. So it's not a bad thing."
When fans make their way to Lagoon Field on the CSU campus for the annual Green and Gold game, they'll likely be expecting plenty of points. But Bobo wouldn't mind if the defense stole the show.
"It would be awesome," Bobo said. "I do see us improving on defense. When offensively we make a play, they're going to happen and we've let that affect us instead of just continuing to play. I see us playing better in our zone concepts and they'll have a tough challenge Saturday with some weapons we've got. But that's what you want. You've got to want to go against the best and we want those guys to come out and perform well. They've got to do what they're coached to do. They've got to have confidence to go out and execute it. It would be good for our defense's confidence to go out and make some plays."