When Steve Fairchild took over as the head coach of the CSU Rams, he had a vision to return the program to its former glory. Now, at the mid point of his first season, Fairchild and his staff have accomplished some goals, but say there is still a lot more to conquer.
The Rams (3-3, 1-1 MWC) have shown considerable improvement from a year ago, already matching last season’s win total mid way through the 2008 campaign. CSU was winless through the sixth week of the season in 2007, ending at a disappointing 3-8.
Fairchild, a former NFL offensive coordinator, said he tried not to set too many expectations for his first year but can already see the Rams becoming the style of team he likes.
“When I started, I just wanted to make sure wherever we are at, we would get better every day,” he said. “I like the way we’re headed, and I like the effort the players are giving. As long as we keep getting better every day, we’ll eventually get there.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Peterson said Fairchild has stayed true to the few goals set when he was named the Ram’s head coach last December.
“I think he has done an excellent job,” he said. “When Steve was hired, he had a plan and a vision of what he wanted to accomplish, and we’ve already done some of those things.”
Through the first half of the season, the Rams rank fifth in the Mountain West Conference behind BYU, Utah, TCU and Air Force. The Cougars, Utes and Horned Frogs are all ranked in top 25 polls nationally. In addition, the Rams display the MWC’s sixth ranked scoring defense, an improvement from last season.
Defensive Coordinator Larry Kerr came into the season planning a step-by-step process. He said that transforming the program to a desired level will be a long term project.
“I take it day-by-day, seeing if we are building and getting better,” he said. “We didn’t have any lofty goals or expectations except to see these guys compete, be coachable and be tough. They are all of those things.”
Wide Receiver Dion Morton, who played for the Rams during two years of the Sonny Lubick era, can see obvious differences in this year’s team. The junior explained that to be truly successful the Rams need to fully commit to Fairchild’s style and vision for the program.
“We need to buy into the system a little more than we have been,” he said. “Basically that’s just going a little harder at practice and that’s our main focus right now. We’ve taken it easy at some of the practices and that hasn’t gotten us where we wanted to be.”
Fairchild compared the college midseason to the 10-game mark in the NFL. The former CSU quarterback admitted that there is a long road ahead, but that the Rams have a chance to do impressive things in the second half of the season.
“As a team, you try not to lose your shot at the big prize through the first half and then a lot of teams will plateau or go down,” he said. “We want to be one of those teams that improves and that’s where we are right now. Everything is still there for us with six games left. All we have to do is make a little run.”
Football beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.