Mike Bobo and the rest of the Colorado State coaching staff had no choice but to instill a greater sense of mental toughness following the team's head-scratching Potato Bowl loss just three months ago. The third-year CSU coach implemented a "fourth quarter program" designed to challenge his players both mentally and physically.
Bobo hopes the winter conditioning will be a springboard into a successful spring.
“We had a great fourth quarter offseason program," Bobo told the media at a press conference Monday. "I feel like we’re ahead of where we’ve been from the first two years."
Continuity figures to play a role in how quickly this year's team progresses. It will be the third season that the CSU offense looks to Bobo and offensive coordinator Will Friend and the second season where Marty English calls the shots on defense.
So what will be emphasized in the 15 spring practices?
“Spring is a time you work on fundamentals," Bobo said. "It’s a big time to improve fundamentally. It’s also a time to tinker with a few things offensively, defensively and special teams.”
This time of year presents coaches across the country with challenges as well. For example, due to injuries and newly signed players finishing up high school, it can be difficult to have personnel depth in spring ball. Bobo sees it more as an opportunity, though, rather than a hindrance.
“Spring football is a time where surprises usually come," said Bobo. "Every man is going to be given ample opportunity to show what he can do. I talked to our team that their opportunity is right now. It’s not fall camp, it’s not Saturdays when the games are played. Your opportunity is right now if you’re sitting in this room.”
Over the course of the next five weeks, the Rams will practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There will be two intrasquad scrimmages the first two Saturdays in April prior to the Green and Gold Spring Game, which takes place April 22 at Lagoon Field on campus.
“I like that format," Bobo said. "There’s a day off between every practice where you can take your time and make sure every bit of film is covered, evaluated and showed to your guys. You can get real specific on the fundamentals or the little things that I believe are the difference in winning football games.”
For now, Bobo and the Rams look to take a day-to-day approach in the goal of improving as a program.
“I believe we’ve got the answers in the room with the addition of when we add the freshmen to the team to have a chance to be a successful football team," Bobo said. "But there’s a lot of work to be done. A lot of teams have talent. A lot of teams have talented guys. But it’s how you come together as a football team. It’s a team that’s the best team that can handle adversity when things don’t go well, can respond within a game, respond within a season and that’s what fourth quarter was about. That’s what spring practice will be about and that’s what this summer will be about. Control what we can control and that’s one day at a time.”
Plus, the on-campus stadium remains on track to be completed by June. It's yet another factor that Bobo is using to motivate his players.
“We don’t want to take that for granted," said Bobo. "It’s not just us - we represent everybody that supports Colorado State. We want to make sure we’re prepared and ready when we go into that stadium and earn the right to play in that stadium.”
Deonte Clyburn - Cleared to practice after sitting out the 2016 season with blood clots
Collin Hill - Cleared for individual, 7-on-7 skeleton work - about five and a half months out from recovery
Marvin Kinsey - On schedule, will not participate in practice
Evan Colorito - Will not participate in spring practice following labrum surgery
Braylin Scott - Out for spring following wrist surgery
Josh Lovingood - Medically disqualified by training staff