The first day of practice in full pads is one the players generally look forward to, because they get to pop a little bit. And really, isn’t that why they’re out there?
Then again, coaches can look at it in a different way for what they usually expect.
“Let me tell you what you usually see,” Colorado State coach Jim McElwain started. “You usually see guys late for meetings, because they haven’t put all the pads in their pants. They need to strap it up just a little bit more. That’s usually what you see, but these guys were good about making sure they came to meeting dressed and ready to go, and we actually got an early start to practice.”
Under McElwain, there won’t be a lot of live sessions in practice. Most of it, he said, will come during individual drills. The bulk of the hitting will come during scrimmages, the first of which will come Saturday.
Safety Austin Gray prefers that method, saying the players can get a good flow going mentally.
“We kind of did that in the spring, from what I remember, and I liked it,” the sophomore said. “The way we used to do it is throw in a little live here and there, and you kind of get your mentality out and back in, then out and back in again. This way, when we go to scrimmage, we’re going live the whole time, which gets your mindset set and you can go all day.”
The Rams are dealing with a few new injuries, two of them to hands. True freshman Nick Januska has worn a club on his left hand for the past two days, and senior cornerback Momo Thomas will be sporting one tomorrow. The team took X-rays, and he’ll play in a hand cast, leading McElwain to tell him he’ll need to learn to catch punts one-handed. McElwain said it wasn’t a long-term issue, and Thomas should be able to fill that role for the season opener.
The only other injury was to cornerback DeAndre Elliott, who was in a boot after spraining an ankle.
Some other notes from the first day in pads:
Talking about the defensive line, McElwain said the team is definitely looking to add depth. He said in a perfect world, the team would have nine ready to go — two full rotations and a backup at each spot. To that end, true freshman Shaq Walker out of Barnesville, Ga, may have a shot at 6-foot-2, 320 pounds.
“In a depth standpoint, you’re hoping to get some plays out of him,” McElwain said. “He needs to get himself in shape, he needs to learn what it is to be a college football player. I’ll tell you this about Shaq, he’s trying. Right now sometimes, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”
McElwain likes what he has in terms of kickoff returners, with the trio of Lee Clubb, Thomas Coffman and Charles Lovett up first to carry the jobs. The coach feels their speed can pay dividends for the team this season, saying “we have a little juice back there.”
“Right now, we’re kind of trying to figure out which guy is going to be which as far as the off or the lead, that kind of thing,” McElwain said. “I think that’s something we can use to our advantage, because of some of the speed we do maybe have back there.
Somebody has to take over the role of place kicker, and the three guys on roster took their first shots at practice Wednesday. Jared Roberts was really the only healthy kicker during the spring, and he looked solid. True freshman Keenan Adams was still trying to come off knee surgery to his plant leg that hampered him, and now walk-on Hayden Hunt is in the mix. McElwain felt all had quick legs, and though they looked good the first day out.
Day five always represents the first day in full pads, and the day after is the first time team’s can go twice a day, always a fun couple of days for the players.
“Of course,” junior tight end Jake Levin said. “Great time.”