Saturday morning marked the first scrimmage of spring football and already fans were treated to something different from last season – the quarterback running the football.
Graduating senior Justin Holland’s arm is considered one of the best to ever come through the CSU football program. His legs are not.
“Last season with Holland, everybody knew he wasn’t going to scramble,” said wide receiver Damon Morton.
While starting quarterback Caleb Hanie didn’t exactly run wild during the 60-play scrimmage (five carries, nine yards), it was clear that seeing the quarterback take off from the line of scrimmage will be a part of the Rams’ offense come fall.
The numbers from Holland’s senior year speak for themselves. He rushed 33 times resulting in an overall loss of 151 yards. His longest run of the season was five yards.
“We’re throwing in a couple of running plays for Caleb,” Morton said. “Caleb being able to run really opens up the field.”
In addition to working on their scrambling technique, quarterbacks Hanie and freshman Billy Farris both had solid performances throwing the football. Hanie completed 10-of-13 passes for 99 yards, while Farris was 5-of-7 for 52 yards. Neither threw an interception.
The defense’s main concern was tackling. After two weeks of strength conditioning and fundamental workouts it was a relief to the players to finally be able to hit something that hits back.
“We were pretty much out there to work on the fundamentals,” said defensive lineman Jesse Nading. “I think we’re showing a lot of improvement. (The defense) started kind of slow but we finished strong. It was a positive day.”
The offense opened the scrimmage with a 70-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by sophomore Kyle Bell. The defense spent the rest of the day redeeming itself, getting to the quarterback three times and forcing two fumbles.
With leaders like seniors Ben Stratton and Robert Herbert watching from the sidelines with injuries, the defense still played surprisingly well.
“It’s nice to have those guys and their senior leadership out on the field,” Nading said. “But on the other hand it’s a great opportunity for guys to step up. Hopefully we’ll be better because of it in the fall.”
Head coach Sonny Lubick was happy with his team’s first day of live action.
“It went well. I know the guys were anxious to do some hitting,” Lubick said. “I’m seeing some real strengths and positives.”
The Rams are scheduled to continue with their spring drills today, Wednesday and Thursday. Another light scrimmage is tentatively scheduled for Thursday.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.