CMU coach: Intensity of offseason work must improve

Colorado Mesa University coach Russ Martin instructs players on the sideline earlier this year.


NCAA Division II Playoffs

Super Region 4

First Round


6) West Texas A&M (9-2) at 3) Chadron State (9-2), noon

5) Midwestern State (9-1) at 4) Indianapolis (9-2), 11 a.m.

Second Round

West Texas/Chadron winner at 2) Ashland (11-0)

Midwestern/Indianapolis winner at 1) CSU-Pueblo (11-0)

Colorado Mesa football coach Russ Martin had hopes of capping a trying season with a victory.

The Mavericks would have finished with back-to-back wins, a winning record in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and placed in the top half of the conference.

Instead, Adams State handed the Mavericks a 19-0 loss Saturday in Alamosa and left several questions to address in the offseason.

“We’ll have evaluation meetings with the players, talk strengths and weaknesses and academic stuff,” Martin said after the loss. “The kids have to realize we’re not satisfied. They should not be satisfied. What we do now in the offseason will determine the outcome next year.

“We have to improve the intensity of work in the offseason. We need to become physically stronger. As coaches, we need to help them understand some things.”

Colorado Mesa (4-7, 4-5 RMAC) had one of the best running games in the conference, ranking third with 182 rushing yards per game. Sophomore running back Jake Cimolino led the RMAC with 124.1 yards per game.

Cimolino rushed for 118 yards in the season finale, but the Mavericks couldn’t make the big play in the passing game. That was the case all season.

Mesa’s passing offense was one of the worst in the RMAC this season. It was ninth in yards per game (141.4) and efficiency (91.1). Passing efficiency is a calculated combination of completion percentage and yards, touchdowns and interceptions per attempt. The highest possible passing efficiency in NCAA Division II is 189.55. The top nine teams in passing efficiency are in the playoffs. Pairings were released Sunday.

The struggles in Mesa’s passing game were compounded by injuries to several players on offense, including quarterbacks Deke Cisco and Jason Haferman.

For the third consecutive season, the Mavericks played more than one quarterback. Mesa finished with a losing record all three seasons.

“A lot comes with it,” Martin said. “Three or four games in a row is the most any quarterback played. That is definitely a part of it. It is difficult to get in a routine with it. We’ve got to be better.”

Cisco, a redshirt freshman, won the starting job early, but he was injured in the Mavs’ third game of the season just as he was starting to gain confidence.

Haferman, a junior, led the Mavericks to three wins in five games and was injured against Colorado School of Mines. Cisco returned against top-ranked CSU-Pueblo and started five games this season. He completed 45.9 percent of his passes for 592 yards with seven interceptions and three touchdowns.

Haferman started the season finale Saturday, but he struggled to get in rhythm, completing seven of 31 passes for 98 yards with four interceptions.

He started six games for the Mavericks, completing 49.1 percent of his passes for 946 yards with eight interceptions and six touchdowns.

Injuries forced several players to play special teams in addition to their regular positions and many played a majority of the game, rarely getting a breather.

“We’ve got to get guys rehabbed and healthy,” Martin said.

Martin said he plans to meet with his assistant coaches to address recruiting needs before talking about specifics, but he noted one position he plans to address.

“We’ll talk more as a staff, but we need depth on the offensive line,” Martin said. “We don’t have many players there.”

Colorado Mesa returns all but four players on offense, six players on defense and kicker Caleb Pavy.

“Do we have a chance to be pretty dang good? Yeah,” Martin said. “There are times it’s frustrating, but as far as the overall picture of where we can go and what we can do, that hasn’t changed. I think we can truly be a national power here.”


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