Eight days from the kickoff of the 2007 season, the pieces of the defensive puzzle are starting to fall into place for the CSU football team. With depth charts coming out in less than a week, some of the hottest position battles on the defensive side of the ball are starting to cool down with just a few spots yet to be filled.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Stanard, in his fifth year with CSU, said after practice Wednesday that there are several players still fighting for specific spots on the field. One of the biggest decisions the team will have to make in the coming week will be picking a starter for the strong-side “Sam” linebacker.
Currently freshman Ricky Brewer, sophomore Sedric Patterson and junior Curtis Cornelson are competing for the position.
“All three are working hard, and each one is different,” Stanard said. “We’re just trying to see which one is going to be the most consistent.”
Patterson saw the most field time last year, playing in seven games and recording a blocked punt returned for a touchdown against Nevada. Brewer is entering his second year with the team, having redshirted last year. Cornelson is a junior college transfer from Bakersfield Community College in California.
Senior defensive end Jesse Nading said things are coming together nicely for the rest of the defense as well.
“We still have a few strides to make and a few things to clean up, but things are coming together,” Nading said.
No matter who makes it into the starting 11, the Rams will have several experienced weapons at their disposal this season. Four of the top five leading tacklers from last year are returning, and there are a total of 10 defensive seniors on the team.
“The nice thing about having a lot of veterans is that there is a lot of good competition for spots,” Nading said. “We need to prepare ourselves to go out and shut a team down for a game, regardless of what the offense is doing. We are preparing to be that kind of defense.”
According to coach Stanard, becoming a shutdown defense takes perfect practice, something that he has worked to instill in the team everyday.
“They all know that we have to work,” Stanard said. “Any quality defense needs to know that they have to be perfect.”
-Football beat writer Nick Hubel can be reached at email@example.com