A big smile crosses CSU cornerback Elijah-Blu Smithâ€™s face when asked how the first bye week since his freshman season has helped him.
â€œI can feel my knees actually now.â€
A week of healing came at the right time for CSU.
In addition to knee soreness, Smith is playing with an injured shoulder. While itâ€™s still painful, the time off has made the pain more tolerable, Smith said.
Other Rams are on the mend as well after the bye.
Defensive tackle Nuku Latu is expected to return to action Saturday after missing the past two games.
The period of rest has allowed the team to come back with a refreshed approach as they prepare for the toughest game of the season against No. 5 Boise State University.
â€œThose little dings on your hands and knees or whatever you feel good coming â€“â€“ back,â€ tight end Crockett Gillmore said. â€œI thought we looked great today. We were flying around like it was day one of two-a-days.â€
The extra jump is no surprise seeing as how one of the top teams to ever visit Fort Collins is coming Hughes.
â€œThis is a game you want to play,â€ offensive coordinator Pat Meyer said. â€œIf you don’t want to play in this game, you shouldn’t be playing college football.â€
After getting the weekend off, the players returned to practice on Monday, a day earlier than usual.
The extra week of practice allowed the coaches to put extra preparation time into a game plan for Boise State star quarterback Kellen Moore.
â€œI think it allowed us as coaches and players to get a jump on Boise last week,â€ coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œThere were some things that we did within the context of those practices that were game-plan specific.â€
The players also took advantage of the extra time to get in additional study time.
â€œIâ€™ve been in the film room since last week,â€ Smith said. â€œItâ€™s only right to get after it because youâ€™ve got one of the best opportunities we will have here in a while. Weâ€™ve got a top-25 team â€“â€“ top-5 team, actually â€“â€“ so youâ€™ve got to gear up for that.â€
But other than having extra time, Fairchild insists that preparations wonâ€™t change just because of the opponent.
â€œThere is going to be very, very little difference in our preparation from say San Jose State and Boise,â€ Fairchild said. â€œWe have a set pattern and schedule of when we practice, what we practice. The only difference is this week, we gain a day.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Who: Boise State vs. CSU
- When: Saturday, 4 p.m. Hughes Stadium.
- Tickets: Available in Lory Student Center. Tickets are expected to sell out as early as Today.
- Join the conversation: Use hashtag #bsu_vs_csu on Twitter
- Promotion: White-out cancer