When the CSU football team takes to the field this season there will be a new coach who knows what itâ€™s like to have success.
That man is linebackers coach Bernard Clark.
Clark signed this offseason after holding the same position at the University of Pittsburgh. He is an outgoing leader who lets his voice be heard out on the practice field and isnâ€™t afraid to let players know when he doesnâ€™t like what he sees.
â€œIâ€™m a very intense coach,â€ Clark said. â€œTechnique is extremely important to me, using your hands and being extremely physical.â€
Clark was a standout linebacker at the University of Miami (FL) during his collegiate days, helping them to two national titles. Having so much success as a player has enabled him to know what things are important when the team takes the field.
â€œIt affects my style of coaching because I know what it takes to win a championship,â€ Clark said. â€œIt has more to do with the players, thatâ€™s what weâ€™re trying to instill here. Coaches coach, but players win. The players are the ones out there playing getting things done.â€
Clark said he wanted to keep coaching college football and he came to CSU because he saw a different opportunity than he had been presented before.
â€œItâ€™s totally different than what Iâ€™m used to,â€ Clark said, of coaching out west after spending his career on the East Coast. â€œItâ€™s exciting for me. I came on my interview, really enjoyed the guys, and to get a chance to coach linebackers and coach in a totally different environment.â€
Clark has already gained the respect of his players. The linebackers know what he expects from them and that he is speaking from a career full of experience. Senior Mychal Sisson believes that has is helping him as he takes on more of a leadership role for the defense.
â€œHe has that experience so everybody is going to respect and look up to him,â€ Sisson said. â€œHeâ€™s always telling me, if you want to make it to that next level you have to be a student of the game and give it your all every play.â€
CSU struggled mightily with defense last year, especially on third down. The Rams ranked dead last out of 120 Division-I teams in opponent third down conversion giving up first downs 55 percent of the time.
â€œI think the biggest thing with third down is an attitude,â€ Clark said. â€œYou have got to make sure you have that attitude on the field that they are not going to get the first, and that is what weâ€™re trying to develop here. These guys have to have a sense of urgency on third down, a sense of attitude.â€
By bringing experience and intensity to a different environment Clark hopes to be able to teach a new attitude to a defense and linebacking core that struggled last year.
â€œIâ€™ve already learned a lot from him and in the future Iâ€™ll continue to learn more,â€ Sisson said.
Football Beat Reporter Travis Todd can be reached at email@example.com.