Steve Fairchild and his coaching staff accomplished a lot in their inaugural season, working up to a 7-6 record and a New Mexico Bowl title. Now at the start of his second year, Fairchild is aiming to accomplish something he has yet to do as a head coach: beat the Buffs.
Fairchild said that facing the CU-Boulder Buffaloes, in his second year and in charge of the Rams, will be somewhat easier than facing them as a rookie head coach.
“I know a little bit more of what to expect,” he said. “Anytime you’ve been through something for a year, it’s a little bit easier on you. We still have a long ways to go and we’re interested in if we can go out playing hard and playing smart.”
Losing to the Buffs 38-17 at Invesco Field last season, in his first game as head coach, the Fairchild era of CSU football didn’t start off as well as planned. But after more experience with the team, along with a greater knowledge of opponent teams, the CSU coaching staff hopes this year will yield better results.
Offensive coordinator Greg Peterson believes that this year’s coaching staff and players alike are both better prepared to start the season.
“Whether you are a coach or a player, the longer you’re in a program the more familiar you are with your offense and the more familiar you become with the opponents you play year-in and year-out,” said Peterson, who is also the Rams’ wide receivers coach. “I don’t know if the preparation ever gets easy but you have a better understanding.”
Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr agreed, adding that this coaching staff is already able to do things they weren’t able to just a year ago, especially defensively.
“I think our whole team is further ahead,” Kerr said. “The second year as a coaching staff we have been able to establish things that took awhile. Now it seems like the players understand everything from practice tempo to what we’re doing as a defensive staff. I feel a lot more ahead, definitely.”
Nick Oppenneer, also in his second year as a Ram, knows just how the coaching staff feels. The former walk-on said coaches feel the same pressure the players feel about entering a game against an archrival like the Buffs.
“I think last year was just as new to them as it was to us,” the senior said. “It was the first year that they had all been together in a real setting. It was probably tough on them too. As the year went on, they probably got more comfortable with each other and knew what to expect.”
Even though he feels more experienced, Peterson said that all the planning in the world could not fully prepare the Rams for the Buffs. Even so, the 26-year veteran said that his team, and the coaches around them, are ready for a battle and look forward to starting their second season at CSU off on the right foot.
“I’m sure CU will have some wrinkles we haven’t seen before, but I like our attitude and our focus,” Peterson said. “It’s going to a good game Sunday night.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.