Mike Bobo wants his team to compete at all costs this spring. The third year Colorado State head coach emphasized Monday the importance of players pushing each other, even with fall camp months away.
“This spring, there will be competition in every phase of our practice," Bobo said as he addressed the media. "I tell them you’re competing with yourself, you’re competing with your segment group and you’re competing with your opponent. And your opponent this spring is the other side of the ball. So we’ve got to learn to compete and push through. Competition is good. I do feel like there’s more competition in our program right now than there was last year.”
Following the team's Potato Bowl loss, Bobo stressed accountability the moment players began conditioning again in January. He took it a step further, though, grading each player's performance on a regular basis and posting the results for the entire team to see.
That mindset in the winter transferred to spring ball. Bobo believes that a more resilient, mentally tough group will succeed even in the most difficult of circumstances when games are on the line.
“We touch on it all the time about being able to handle adversity," Bobo said. "We’re going to put you in adverse situations. We talked about it as a staff this morning about creating a crisis every day. Put them in uncomfortable situations so we can respond. We’re too inconsistent as a football team."
Bobo continued, explaining the significance of the Rams building confidence in the offseason.
"Talking a little bit defensively, we play six shutout halves of football and other times we disappear," he said. "Why is that? When things are going good, we play well. When things aren’t going good, we’re a little bit of a frontrunning football team. Well how do you handle that? How do you build confidence? Well you put yourself out there and you challenge yourself on a daily basis so when those moments happen in a football game, you have that confidence. If you don’t put yourself out there every day or if you don’t challenge yourself right now or in fourth quarter, then how are you going to know to respond when it gets tough in a game? So that was what we worked on in fourth quarter and that’s what we’ll work on this spring.”
Take Michael Gallup, for example. The CSU receiver took the Mountain West by storm a year ago and will undoubtedly be a focal point of the offense once again in 2017. But even Gallup enjoys being pushed by highly touted newcomer Preston Williams, a 6-foot-4, 209-pound transfer from Tennessee who isn't eligible to suit up on Saturdays until 2018.
"I love that," Gallup said of the competition from his fellow teammate. "That's the only way you're going to get better. If nobody's competing, then it's hard to play against your goals. But when you have other players that are competing with you, that helps everybody out."
CSU will need its revamped confidence from the outset of the season, as three of the first four games for the Rams come against teams from either the Pac-12 or SEC (Oregon State, Colorado and Alabama). It's why the CSU coaching staff is asking so much of players now in terms of competing and getting better mentally.
“You look forward to pushing them enough, to putting them in uncomfortable situations where they’ve got to develop some toughness to finish the practice," said offensive coordinator Will Friend.