On Saturday the CSU football team rushed out of the tunnel at Hughes Stadium at 4:06 p.m., the exact time kickoff is scheduled for the season opener on Sept. 3.
Earlier in the day the Rams had breakfast as a team and watched a pre-game movie (â€œRise of the Planet of the Apesâ€). They then took buses from campus to the stadium.
And during practice, the Rams used play-calling and substitution methods in the same way they will during the regular season, with two coaches in the press box. These tactics were used to try and work out the kinks and get players familiar with the game-day routine.
The results from the practice, which included 26 live plays, were mixed.
â€œThere were some bright spots, and even defensively there were some,â€ head coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œFor us to be a good football team, defensively we have to play with a hell of a lot more energy, and offensively, weâ€™ve got to clean up the beat-yourself type of stuff, the substitution errors and dropping the ball on the ground.
â€œWeâ€™ve got enough talent to be pretty darn good, but if we play flat defensively, we wonâ€™t do it. And if we beat ourselves offensively we wonâ€™t do it.â€
Fairchild attributed the substitution errors to coaching mistakes and confusion from having three sets of players at every position being used. By Tuesday the coaches will cut down the number of players getting repetitions in practice to the 64 allowed for travel to the first game in New Mexico.
Two of the top running backs, Raymond Carter and Chris Nwoke, put the ball on the ground during live-action.
The second-team offense scored two touchdowns, with tight ends Blake Jones and Kivon Cartwright catching red zone scores from backup quarterback M.J. McPeek.
But the receiving core struggled, with drops plaguing them throughout the practice.
â€œWeâ€™re still waiting for a receiver to somewhat emerge,â€ Fairchild said. â€œWeâ€™re struggling there.â€
Sophomore quarterback Pete Thomas, however, is confident someone will emerge as a reliable threat.
â€œItâ€™s real hard to find an actual go-to receiver. Thereâ€™s not that many of them out there,â€ he said following a 2-of-4 for 38 yards performance. â€œI feel like our receiving corps is real strong this year and theyâ€™re going to do some real good things.â€
Defensively, Fairchild wasnâ€™t pleased with the energy shown from that unit. Defensive end Broderick Sargent, who would have had a couple of sacks if he were allowed to hit the quarterback, feels that the effort will rise on Tuesday when rotations are cut down to the No. 1 and No. 2 units only.
Tuesdayâ€™s practice will see the beginning of game planning for New Mexico as the team shifts from camp mode, to season mode as the Rams try to reach a bowl following consecutive 3-9 seasons.
â€œWeâ€™ve got to get better, thereâ€™s no question,â€ Fairchild said. â€œThatâ€™s what good teams do, like we did my first year, we just kept getting better. We canâ€™t level off.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.