The veteran quarterback. A broken leg. A true freshman starter.
It's all part of a season of football.
A year removed from a 4-7 record and an offense that struggled to run the football, the man behind center will not be as much of a focal point as it was last year, when a new starter was given the role of replacing Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year Bradlee Van Pelt. However, with senior Justin Holland returning to command an explosive offense, there is no shortage of quarterback battles at CSU this spring season.
Holland, the incumbent starter, has received praise from both head coach Sonny Lubick and offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt. The former Parade All-American and top recruit, who was on pace to challenge CSU passing records last season before suffering a broken left leg, is the likely starter once his ankle fully heals.
"(Justin's) throwing the ball pretty good right now," said Hammerschmidt, who is also the quarterbacks coach. "He needs a lot of work on his footwork; his feet aren't probably as quick. The ankle isn't back to normal. It's probably 70-80 percent right now."
Sophomore Caleb Hanie, listed as second on the spring practice depth chart, is the favorite to back up Holland this upcoming season. However, redshirt freshman Billy Farris, a walk-on from Batton Rouge, La., has moved up the depth chart and is getting better, Hammerschmidt said.
"Billy is really coming on," Hammerschmidt said. "He's got the most room to improve because he's never played."
Farris said he was happy to be back playing football and practicing with the first-team offense.
"I've been waiting a long time to get back out there," Farris said. "I'm just trying to learn the offense the best I can so I can get a chance."
Hanie also said he wanted to challenge Holland for the starting job.
"I struggled a little bit at the beginning, but I think that it's really coming on now," Hanie said. "I feel good about things right now, and I want to push (Holland) and see if I can get some playing time."
The implementation of a slightly new offense is something that each quarterback has to adjust to this fall. Hammerschmidt said CSU will be using a two-back set, as well as more formations using the shotgun this year.
"We're running a lot of the same plays, but mix some new stuff in," Hammerschmidt said. "There's not whole bunch of new things."
Even though much of spring practice is working on snapping out of the shotgun, Hammerschmidt does not expect it to become a focus of the offense.
"We'd like to be able to do it, but we're not going to sit in the gun for 50 snaps," Hammerschmidt said. "Sometimes against a good pass rush, you like to get the quarterback off the line so he has a little more time. We're still going to go under center a lot."
Farris said he is excited about having the opportunity to learn the new offense.
"I like the fact that (Hammerschmidt) is changing the whole offense," Farris said. "Now, everybody gets to start over and we go step by step piecing it together."