Mar 202012
Authors: Kevin Lytle

The team is the focus. Not an individual person or specific position.

That’s the message CSU football coach Jim McElwain stressed as his team readies for its first practice under the new regime on Wednesday.

“The goal I have for this football team is to become a football team — become an offense, a defense and a special teams — working together in one common goal, and that’s to win ball games,” McElwain said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, McElwain and the four coordinators (offense, co-defensive, special teams) who spoke with media all stressed that they have not developed a depth chart and there likely wouldn’t be one until the end of spring practices, or possibly even later.

“We’ve opened up competition at every position,” offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin said. “There is not a returning starter.”

This means some of the more intriguing battles, like quarterback, are wide open.

McElwain and Baldwin said the four quarterbacks on the roster (Garrett Grayson, Conner Smith, M.J. McPeek and Craig Leonard) will get equal reps throughout spring.

There was no timetable set on when a decision for the starter will be made, and since McElwain didn’t take questions from reporters, it is unknown when they will begin to whittle down the competition.

Baldwin did say, “You would really like to see one guy just take off…If we have two (leaders) going into fall camp, we feel good.”

On the other side of the ball, the Rams will begin operations with co-defensive coordinators for the first time in school history.

Al Simmons and Marty English said they are all-in as co-coordinators, even sharing the podium during Tuesday’s press conference.

“It’s a big-time comfort zone that we have with each other,” said English, who will focus mainly on the linebackers.

Simmons, who will coach the secondary, said that he will likely coach from the press box. He also said that he and English clicked immediately and the biggest issue they had combining their knowledge into a playbook was learning each other’s terminology for different packages and plays.

Other than that, the two say that they are on track to run a unit they say has talent and depth. And like every other unit on the team, they have not set what defensive formation they will use.

“We’re going to be a multiple defense,” English said. “There are going to be times that we are going to be in three-down (lineman), odd fronts. There are going to be times that we will be in four-down, even fronts.

“It really matches what we’re getting personnel-wise from the offense, down and distance and where we are at on the field.”

The Rams’ practice on Wednesday is the first of 15 allowed in spring by the NCAA. All practices (excluding scrimmages at Hughes Stadium) are closed to the media and public.

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at

Key dates
April 6: Scrimmage at Hughes Stadium (time TBA)
April 13: Practice at Infinity Park in Denver (time TBA)
April 15: Scrimmage at Hughes Stadium (time TBA)
April 21: Spring game, Hughes Stadium (time TBA)

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