With two-a-day practices ending Friday there was one final hurdle the CSU football team had to get over before they could officially be done with training camp: the scrimmage Saturday.
The offense was put into a tough situation to start the scrimmage, as the ball was placed at the three-yard line. The defense used the field position to their advantage as they forced a safety on a botched pitch play between senior quarterback Justin Holland and senior running back Jimmy Green. Green recovered the ball in the end zone, but was immediately tackled by sophomore defensive end Jesse Nading and senior safety Travis Garcia.
On the following series the offense was forced to punt deep in their own territory. New long snapper, senior Matt Bartz, hiked the ball over sophomore punter Jim Kaylor's head and through the back of the end zone for a second consecutive safety.
"We put the offense in a difficult situation to try and accomplish something," said head coach Sonny Lubick. "From an offensive standpoint, that's not good, but from a defensive stand point, two safeties, that's pretty good."
Through the next few series the defense continued to dominate, forcing a couple turnovers. Backup sophomore quarterback Caleb Hanie was intercepted on a diving play by freshman defensive back Klint Kubiak. Then in Hanie's next series, a bad exchange on a snap led to a fumble recovered by junior linebacker John Witt.
Although the defensive dominated the early part of the scrimmage they had a hard time containing running backs Kyle Bell, a sophomore, and junior Nnamdi Ohaeri. Bell finished the day with seven rushes for 52 yards along with one reception for 33 yards, which led to his own three-yard touchdown run.
"Kyle Bell made the most of his opportunity today," said Lubick. "If I'm a defender and he's coming my way at 228 pounds I'm looking for a referee to hide behind, you gotta be tough to take him down."
Ohaeri finished the day with 48 yards on eight carries. Ohaeri sparked the offense when he took his first carry of the day 28 yards, which led to the Ram's first score of the day, a 45 yard field goal by new kicker Senior Kevin Mark.
Aiding the offenses slow start was the absence of starting lineman Brandon Alconcel (knee), Albert Bimper (knee) and Michael Brisiel (ankle), all out with minor injuries. All three are expected to return to practice today.
Holland was another bright spot for the offense, completing seven of ten passes for 119 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown on a catch and run to sophomore wide receiver Johnny Walker.
The final touchdown of the day was on a one-yard carry by freshman running back Alex Square.
There were also quite a few defensive players who performed well Saturday, Nading being one. The starting defensive end recorded 1.5 sacks, as well as making the tackle on Green in the end zone for the first safety.
"We got some good work today, we were really trying to push the offense," Nading said. "The run defense was a point of emphasis this off-season, it was no secret we struggled against the run last year."
Another young defensive player that stood out Saturday was red-shirt freshman Jeff Horinek, who received praise from coaches all day on his ability to run to the ball while working in at starting linebacker.
"I'm just trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can, and let the instincts take over," said Horinek. "I felt the defense did a pretty good job, but next time you go out you just have to get better."
Garcia started the scrimmage for injured senior Ben Stratton, a three-year starter and vocal leader of the defense. Stratton went down early in a Friday practice and was not present at the scrimmage. The seriousness of the injury is still unknown at this point. Physicians and coaches are expected to have full details on Stratton's condition today.