In football, as in life, nothing is guaranteed except the work.
On Aug. 7, the Orediggers kicked off practices for the 2022 football season. The team returns 33 seniors, including two dozen fifth-year seniors and five sixth-year players.
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That’s what Colorado School of Mines head football coach Brandon Moore expressed when reflecting on last year’s successes going into the 2022 season.
On Aug. 7, the Orediggers kicked off practices for the football preseason. Moore, who’s been a CSM defensive coach since 2016, is taking the reins as head coach this season.
In 2021, CSM went 12-2 for the season, won the conference title and advanced to the NCAA semifinals. With 18 starters returning for 2022, the Orediggers have been listed as a top-10 team in nationwide preseason polls. On Aug. 15, they were ranked No. 1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference preseason coaches' poll.
While all those feats are respectable, Moore also emphasized how “past successes mean nothing in the future.”
Rather than getting too far ahead and focusing on repeating a playoff appearance, Moore said the Orediggers should concentrate on the next game.
“That’s where we’re always going to stay focused, on the current opponent,” he said after practice on Aug. 11. “We've got to be where our feet are and stay in the moment.”
Right now, the next game also is the first: Sept. 1 at Grand Valley State, a fellow top-10 team.
After the season opener, the Orediggers won’t have long to catch their breath, as their first home game on Sept. 10 is against fellow top-10 team Angelo State.
Senior linebacker Nolan Reeve, who was recently highlighted by College Football America Yearbook, also emphasized taking the schedule one week at a time and “not taking those in-between games for granted.”
He continued: “We all know one of the big games is the national championship, but the most important game to us right now is Week 1.”
‘A player-led team’
Reeve, who had a team-best 75 total tackles last year and led the conference in sacks and forced fumbles, is one of 33 seniors returning to the program.
While most are fifth-year or redshirt seniors like Reeve, there are five sixth-year seniors who received an extra year of eligibility amid COVID-19. There are only two fourth-year or “true seniors” on the team, and both have another year of eligibility left.
Having so many and such high-quality player leaders will be incredibly advantageous for CSM, Moore described. Because most of them are starters, he said of putting together a successful 2022 team: “We won’t be starting from zero; we’ll be starting from at least halfway.”
Reeve felt likewise, saying the talent on both sides of the field is incredible. Not only that, but the seniors know what standards they must meet to repeat last year’s successes and more.
For the defense specifically, Reeve said the Orediggers have strength up front, speed in the back and leaders in the middle.
“When we get into a front-heavy offense, we know what it takes (to win),” he said. “We’re ready for that Week 1 and going throughout the season.”
After a few days of practice, Moore said he was impressed by the offensive and defensive lines’ physicality. He felt like they’re the first components coaches look at when assessing a team — whether the offensive line is protecting the quarterback effectively, and whether the defensive line is attacking weaknesses in the offense.
Overall, though, he emphasized to the Orediggers at practice Aug. 11 that every position needs to keep improving. The players should target not only their weaknesses but their strengths as well, Moore commented.
For the CSM football program in general its strength has always been its players, Moore said.
He believed the program is unique throughout the world because of the type of player it recruits. Orediggers are always students first, and graduation is their priority, he said. So, because of that, the players have remained the program’s greatest strength.
“It’s true now, just like it always will be,” he continued. “ … As long as (the players) are first … and we invest in their success wholeheartedly, I think we’ll continue to be successful.”
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