With win No. 1 now behind them, the Colorado State football team and head coach Jay Norvell believe they are on their way to a better second half of the season than the first.
That starts with the atmosphere and attitude surrounding the team, which has been in flux over the first six weeks of the season, with close to a dozen players leaving the team.
Norvell and the players believe that has only made the team tighter and was a big part in their 17-14 victory at Nevada on Friday night.
“That was the first time this season I have seen them play that hard, for each other and play unselfishly,” Norvell said. “So that is definitely something to build on. Our first conference game, playing on the road, playing in a tough environment and standing up to adversity and finishing, I think there is a lot that we can build on there.”
As the losses mounted at the beginning of the season, players began to leave.
From veterans like running back David Bailey and receivers Ty McCullough and Dante Wright to receiver Melquan Stovall, who came from Nevada with Norvell, the exodus began.
But Norvell doesn’t look at it as a bad thing. In fact, he thinks that as the locker room thins and the players who want to be around stick with him, it will be a positive.
“I have been prodding this team to try and show me their soul,” Norvell said. “You can’t play this game unless you play it for the love of your teammates. I thought we were really selfish in the preseason. I thought we were a selfish team. I didn’t think we were really playing for each other. I think we had a lot of guys that had a lot of different agendas besides CSU football, I really do.
“We don’t have a lot of those guys on the team anymore. And I think the kids that are here have a genuine care and love for each other and it showed. I was so proud of them. They played extremely hard for each other.”
The postgame locker room celebration showed just what Norvell spoke of. With all the distractions of playing at Nevada, where he had coached for five years, and Wolf Pack head coach Ken Wilson calling Norvell and his staff out for telling players to either join him at CSU, skip the team’s bowl game or even enter the NFL draft, the team rallied around their coach in an emotional game.
Defensive back Henry Blackburn said not only did the team want to win for Norvell, but they wanted to win for themselves.
“All those guys (who left), they all have their reasons, and honestly, I don’t care about any of it,” Blackburn said. “I care about the guys who are here, and we care about each other. We want to be around the guys that want to be here, who want to be different, who want to make the changes around here. We don’t want guys on the team who are one foot in, one foot out, who aren’t going to give it their all.
“The beautiful thing about football is it doesn’t build character, it exposes character. When things got hard around here, we saw a lot of guys quit. I’m honestly glad we got rid of those type of guys. Because now we get to see who’s really tough and who’s really about it.”
Source: Read Full Article