Q&A with R.J. Brown

Junior linebacker R.J. Brown has ascended from walk on to scholarship team tri-captain. Inside, Brown talks about how this camp has been different than any he's been a part of, and how the team is focused on beating Colorado State. Also inside, notes from Wednesday's practice.

BSN: You've been around here for a while now. What, if anything, is different about this camp?
R.J. Brown
: In terms of how physical it is, this is definitely the most physical camp that any of us have been a part of so far. Especially for the linebackers. There's been a lot of hitting. There's toughness issues there. Coach really wants us to become hardnosed when we walk in for CSU.

It's been a lot faster, just because we all understand the defense, we all understand what's going on. It's been a lot quicker pace.

BSN: That's because of the experience?
: Yeah, definitely. It's the experience factor, and a lot of players have played with each other for a while now. The senior class is a lot closer and that's kind of infectious throughout the other classes, as well.

BSN: I know you guys have started game planning for CSU. Can you sense a shift of really focusing on that game now?
: Definitely. I don't think (the first team defense) played the ones on offense today. I don't think it was ones on ones at all. Everything is based on CSU now. Jordon (Dizon) and I will be watching CSU tapes when we walk upstairs now. All the emphasis is CSU now. There's nothing else.

BSN: What can you guys take from last year's game?
: We've been watching last year's game a lot. I think what we're getting out of last year's game is the mistakes we're seeing. And how easily that game could've been won had we done the right things, been in the right places.

Our defense is based on fits. You see plays (on tape) where if one guy fits in the right spot, instead of a 30-yard run, you've got no gain. So we're taking a lot out of last year's game.

BSN: Do you expect them to run Kyle Bell right at you?
: Oh definitely. I think they're going to run him right at us. And they should, he's a great athlete. We're just going to do what we can to stop him.

BSN: Is that kind of a fun challenge? He's a big bruising type back.
: Yeah. I think that's probably one of the reasons this has been such a physical camp. We know we've got guys like Kyle Bell coming right down our throats. We know if we want to be able to compete with him we're going to have to hit him as hard as we can. It's just going to be a battle all day.

BSN: A lot of young players on this team. For some of them, it's going to be their first time in Invesco. How do you as a captain help settle them down?
: There's not so much that anyone (else) is going to be able to do. I remember my first time playing there — it's a self-battle. You go out there and you've got to be able to calm yourself.

I know Coach Hawk works on us every day. He says when you walk into practice, you've got to practice having that anxiety level really high and be able to play with it. We're going to have the same issues going into CSU at Invesco.

As a leader, all you can really do is say, ‘Go out there and have fun and do what you're here to do. Play football.'

After that first hit, it's just football.

BSN: This is going to be your first time playing at linebacker in a game. How excited are you about that?
: I don't think I've ever been more excited about anything in my life. I came here to play linebacker. That's why you come play football here. As a former walk-on who's getting to start on a Division I team, it's a dream. And against CSU at Invesco, it doesn't get much better than that.

• Freshman linebacker Josh Smith was released from the hospital on Wednesday after being there since Saturday when he suffered a bruised kidney in a scrimmage. Dan Hawkins said Wednesday after practice Smith's availability to play is still up in the air. While he's all but officially ruled out of the Sept. 1 game against CSU, Hawkins indicated Smith might be available for the Sept. 15 game with Florida State.

Smith was not at practice Wednesday, as he was going through school orientation.

• The team spent roughly 45 minutes at Invesco Stadium, site of their opener against the Rams. Hawkins wanted to take the team there so they could imagine success against Colorado State.

Cody Hawkins said the walkthrough practice at Invesco may have been especially helpful for the freshmen who have never been in the stadium before.

"I remember how I felt the first time I walked out there," the quarterback said. "Coming out of that tunnel, it's pretty unbelievable. You waiting for the stands to stop and they just keep going and going and going. It's a pretty impressive place."

• Hawkins Quote of the Day. The head coach was especially animated during parts of Wednesday's practice, really getting after the troops as game week approaches. Asked how practice went, he said, "It was a little sluggish at first, and maybe again at the end. We've got our horns out in full game mode right now. So if a guy's got a nose hair out of place, we get a little bent out of shape. We're trying to keep cranking the game plan details on to these guys."

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