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Colorado State defenders aim to build on what they did well against Michigan, use the loss as a learning tool

Justin Michael Avatar
September 8, 2022

The Colorado State defense is eager to get back on the field this Saturday and use the experience they gained against an explosive Michigan offense. 

Speaking with a few of the players, while it was certainly frustrating to allow the Wolverines to score 51 points in Week 1 and there are a lot of things that need to be cleaned up, there were also moments where this group flashed its potential. 

The consensus in the secondary was that the man coverage was really solid — an encouraging sign given that CSU’s next two opponents run the Air Raid.

Holding Michigan to field goal attempts on three of their first four Red Zone trips was an early win as well, even in a blowout loss. In modern football it’s just about a given that you are going to give up some yards if you are facing even an average offense. However, the key is to be able to bend and not break. 

“Don’t give up seven,” sophomore safety Jack Howell told DNVR. “In the long run, if you keep allowing them to only get three, you’re shutting them down. It’s going to be a long game for them. I think we really need to embrace that moving forward — to do it for four quarters and consistently hold them to three.”

Junior defensive end Mohamed Kamara talked about the Red Zone stops as well. He explained that while he is one of the more experienced players on the field, a lot of the defensive linemen in the interior were playing some of their first significant snaps for CSU, and to see those guys step up with their backs against the wall was great.

“I’m really proud of those guys,” Kamara said. “They’re underneath me grade level wise, but they played to a really high level. I really appreciate those guys for stepping up.”

Kamara continued, emphasizing that the early Red Zone stops show that the scheme works when everyone sticks to their responsibilities. He said that it’s unfortunate when they have to defend a short field, but ultimately their job is to get stops no matter where they are. Kamara feels that getting that experience in an intense environment like the Big House will only benefit the defensive line and defensive unit as a whole moving forward. 

“Those guys will blossom, I believe,” Kamara said, before crediting the mental fortitude of his teammates. “With a lot of people, they would have shut down, and (we) didn’t. I’m really proud of them.”

During his weekly press conference on Monday, Jay Norvell focused a lot about the process of a season and being able to use games like Michigan as learning tools. He expressed that it’s all about what you do with the things that happen to you and how you choose to respond. 

He also talked about the importance of staying committed to doing the right things consistently and not getting impatient and/or abandoning the plan at the first sign of adversity. 

Norvell compared the situation to a combination lock and how you may have three of the numbers correct, but until you get that fourth one you’re never going to be able to open it up. 

“Sometimes that’s the way you are on a football field,” Norvell said. “You do a lot of things right, but there’s this little detail that you have to complete to really have it work properly.  That’s kind of where we are as a team. We’re working hard on our execution, working hard on refining our understanding and certain concepts. So much of what happened to us last week was correctable.”

Much like CSU, Middle Tennessee lost big in Week 1, but they are a program that is well established and used to suffering some lumps in non-conference play before evening out as the year goes on. It will be interesting to see which group is able to learn from their mistakes more and come away with their first victory of the 2022 campaign.

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