Apr 012012
Authors: Kevin Lytle

Everything is different. It’s the same sport being played, but the change between this year and last year is staggering.

Coach Jim McElwain has sent a shock into the system of the CSU football team as he tries to create a new way of operating.

That has created good and bad. The players love the new way practice operates. Every player gets equal repetitions. There is no standing around, players run from one drill to the next for the entirety of the almost two-hour practice.

While the pace allows for more repetitions for everyone, there is no time spent coaching up players as they try and learn an entirely new system. Because of that, the coaching staff has had to scale back some of the things they are trying to implement.

“We have had to delay some install and were probably a little aggressive with what we were doing offensively and defensively,” McElwain said after practice on Friday. “Today was heavy third down and then we started to creep into the (red zone) a little bit. We have had to push back short yardage and goal line.”

With the new coaching staff in place it’s almost like every player is a freshman, trying to learn an entirely new playbook. Because of that, McElwain is slowly building up how much everyone needs to know.

On the first practice of spring it was only a handful of plays. Day-by-day they add more and more, hoping to have all, or close to it, of the playbook installed by the end of spring practice.

“It’s really good the way they’re pacing it out…They give it a little bit at a time,” said tight end Crockett Gillmore, who is unable to fully practice after having shoulder surgery in the offseason. “With the spring (practices) you have tons of time. You go to school and you lift, but you’re not here all day like you are in the fall so you have time to look over that stuff and get it memorized.”

Everything McElwain is doing is to try and change the culture of how things operate as he tries to turn around a program that has gone 3-9 three-straight seasons. There is no music playing during practice, as there was last year. Fighting in practice is strictly prohibited. There are referees on the field everyday.

The players all said that the first couple of practices were a shock to the system, but they are getting used to the new system as the near the midway point of spring practice.

“Everybody I feel like is getting adjusted,” linebacker Mike Orakpo said. “We know what to expect now so everyone is hitting the drills full speed.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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