After its first loss of the season, a disappointing 28-10 road loss to Nevada, the Rams will enjoy a break this weekend before heading to Fresno State next Saturday.
Although the team wanted to avenge the loss immediately following last Saturday’s game, it appears they are now thankful for the extra week to prepare for Fresno.
“Right after the loss I wanted a game to get our minds off it,” said senior offensive lineman Clint Oldenburg. “But this week’s practices have been the best of the year. We’re having a real good bye week and I think it will pay off.”
For some players, the decline in physical play is a nice break but has made this week’s practices less exciting.
“I know some guys sometimes feel like there’s nothing to play for this weekend, it being a bye week,” said defensive lineman Blake Smith. “You feel like you’re back in camp sometimes. These have been physical practices though and it’s nice to keep getting the hits in.”
While a break in the season can be frustrating for players and fans alike, there may have been no better time for the Rams to take a week off. After starting the season strong on both sides of the ball, the team failed to do some of the most basic things to win at Nevada.
“We went back to the fundamentals this week,” said Oldenburg. “We have to be violent out there. We haven’t done that yet this season. We weren’t worrying about burying the guy in front of us. This week we redirected ourselves and that’s what we needed.”
Head Coach Sonny Lubick also felt the weekend off would be a positive thing for his football team.
“It’s usually hard to come to practice with no game on the horizon,” Lubick said. “But our guys are intelligent enough to realize we got to get better. We have the opportunity to do that this week.”
For the players, this will be the first week “off” since the season began. Even though it’s early in the year, some of them are looking forward to a weekend without football.
“My girlfriend is coming up from back home in Oklahoma,” said Smith. “She usually comes up for a few games every season but this weekend we’ll sit around and relax a lot.”
Still, for others, a weekend without a game doesn’t mean a break from football.
“I’ll actually be watching a lot of film on Fresno,” said Oldenburg. “I need to study up on my opponent so I’ll be ready to go next week.”
Staff writer Brett Okamoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org