This weekâ€™s practice has the Colorado State University football team preparing for the highest ranked opponent to ever come to Hughes Stadium.
TCU is rated as the No. 5 team in all of college football and is led by 2009 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, Andy Dalton.
â€œHeâ€™s played a lot of snaps, heâ€™s very experienced, and he can throw and run, so that gives them some dimension back there,â€ said coach Steve
Fairchild. â€œBut heâ€™s also surrounded by some very talented players, and that always helps.â€
Practice has been as much about the mental side of preparation as it has been physically.
CSUâ€™s coaching staff wants to make sure junior safety Elijah-Blu Smith and the rest of the defense is up to the task.
â€œThe coaches want to give us mental reps, first of all, getting in the meeting rooms and that kind of stuff,â€ Smith said. â€œWe get all of (TCUâ€™s) run game and all their pass game and then we bring it all together at the end.â€
After giving up several big passing plays against Idaho, CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr will emphasize the importance of playing sound defense.
â€œLast week we did give up the big play and weâ€™re continuing to work with those guys on their technique,â€ Kerr said. â€œWeâ€™ve got to stop the run and try to keep those big plays in front of us.â€
Part of being considered an elite team is having a well-rounded football team and the Horned Frogs present a challenging matchup defensively as well.
â€œTheyâ€™re a real fast defense, I mean one of the best in the country,â€ said freshman quarterback Pete Thomas. â€œWeâ€™ve been watching some film and teams have had some success passing and running the ball, so we have a good feel on what we can do.â€
Thomas has all the reason in the world to be confident after being named the MWC Player of the Week after his impressive showing against Idaho.
Fairchild likes the improvement he sees in his offense from the last game and in practice.
â€œEverything got better, a little bit better,â€ Fairchild said. â€œTracks by backs, pad level and placement with the offensive line, assignments;
just everything starts to come together a little bit better and you have a little more success.â€
The Rams will use what they have learned from the previous two seasons facing TCU in addition to practice in hopes of pulling the upset.
â€œThe thing I take away from (TCU) is they are a very talented, well-coached football team,â€ Kerr said. â€œYou cannot take anything for granted and you got to be ready to play every play.â€
Football Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.