If there is one component that Jim McElwain knows about their daunting matchup against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday it’s that they will not lose before the opening kickoff. They can’t and they won’t.
It’s a logistical impossibility – obviously – and it’s also a state of mind for the Colorado State Rams.
“You can’t go in there scared, because if one person plays scared then that could mess up the whole game,” senior cornerback Shaq Bell said. “Everybody has to focus in on what they’re supposed to do. Just go out there and have fun and compete.”
The reigning back-to-back National Champions – McElwain was a part of the first of those two championships before taking over in Fort Collins – present obvious challenges to CSU. Watching film and scouting them is easy, beating them is another story.
Alabama is bigger, stronger and faster, almost incomparably so, than the Rams. They have some of the most talented and disciplined players in the country. Nick Saban’s program is the undisputed mecca of college football, but, as the head coach knows from what he learned in Tuscaloosa, they aren’t just going to lay down and just let the Tide roll right over them.
“The guys who are afraid, I’ll leave them home. I’ll see it in their eyes; they’re not getting on the plane,” asserted McElwain. “I want the guys who are down there to compete in every single down and not worry about anything, but how they prepare and their ability to do their job. That’s what we’re looking for… We’re going to go down and measure our program.”
The second year head coach carried the philosophies he learned at Alabama to Colorado State, and Saturday the Rams will get a glimpse of what that truly means. As they ready themselves for the task of taking on the No. 1 team in the country, CSU will remain keen on the process, not the target.
“The only reason you should be scared is if you’re not sure,” McElwain emphasized. “There’s no reason to not be sure about what you’re doing. It comes down to your preparation.”
The Rams may not be able to beat the Tide, instead they’ll try to emulate everything they do.