CSU falls to Cougars [SLIDESHOW]

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Oct 302008
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer

The CSU Ram’s lost to the BYU Cougars in one of the most exciting games Hughes Stadium has seen in years.

The Cougars (8-1 4-1) knocked off the Rams (4-5 2-3) on the strength of a last minute game winning drive, disappointing the majority of the 20,000 fans filling the CSU’s home.

BYU quarterback Max Hall hit tight end Dennis Pitta with a perfect pass to the middle of the end zone, completing a 6-play 76-yard drive and giving the Cougars a 45-42 lead with 22 seconds left in the game.

After a touch back on the ensuing kick off, the Ram’s comeback attempt fell short as Billy Farris threw a desperation incomplete pass to receiver Rashaun Greer, ending the game.

CSU head coach Steve Fairchild was disappointed that the Rams came out with a loss after hanging tough with the Cougars the entire game.

“We definitely had our chances,” the first year head coach said. “I liked the effort and I liked the way we played physical and showed up tonight. Having said that, it was a close game. We had our chances but we didn’t make enough plays to get it done.”

CSU led the Cougars with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter after Farris found wide receiver Dion Morton deep for a touchdown on the first play of a drive that took only 10 seconds off of the game clock.

Cornerback Gerard Thomas set up the go ahead score after intercepting a pass from Hall on the Ram’s 45 yard line.

Farris explained that he has no regrets about taking so little time off the clock during the scoring drive and leaving the Cougars an opportunity to answer back.

“Anytime we can put points on the board that’s what we want to do,” the senior said. “You can’t coordinate time all of the time. It’s nice when you can come in there and run time off the clock, but I’m just glad we got six on the board.”

Farris compiled an impressive game for the second week in a row, posting 251 yards passing and three touchdowns, including two to Morton. Linebacker Jeff Horinek defensively, racking up 10 tackles and a sack.

Pitta and wide receiver Austin Collie turned in stellar performances for BYU, combining for 331 receiving and five touchdowns.

CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr gave credit to the duo for giving the Rams lot’s of trouble defensively.

“We tried to double on both of them and then the quarterback took off and ran,” he said. “Then we ended up in the second-half just doubling Collie and the quarterback was smart enough to go to Pitta. We had good coverage but they just made some plays. What can you say?”

Hall was impressed with the effort of CSU and explained he expected a dog fight coming into the game.

“I didn’t want it to be that close,” the senior said. “All the credit goes to CSU. They are a hell of a football team and they played their guts out tonight.”

The loss drops the Ram’s to sub .500 record for the third time this season and keeps the team fifth in the Mountain West Conference with 3 games remaining.

Farris explained that even though this is a tough loss for to take, the Ram’s have to recover quickly.

“We have three games left and if we win two we are bowl eligible,” the Louisiana native said. “Our goal is to win out from here. We feel like we can. It hurts and is tough, but we are going to take a lot from it. We are going to be better from it.”

Football beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at sports@collegian.com

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Rams knock Air Force out of the sky

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Oct 302008
Authors: Stephen Meyers

With a couple of recruits in the building, the CSU volleyball team gave them a good show dominating the Air Force Falcons for a 3-0 sweep in Moby Arena on Saturday.

Taking only one hour nine minutes, the win was the Rams (19-2, 9-1) 30th consecutive over the Falcons (5-19, 0-10) and 26th consecutive win at home.

Head Coach Tom Hilbert was not concerned with how fast the Rams won, but rather the fashion in which they did so.

“Before the match coach Hilbert said it is not about how quick we get it over with but if we get it over with quick it has to be with quality,” said freshman setter Evan Sanders. “And quality it was.”

Senior middle blocker Mekana Barnes led the team with nine kills on .500 hitting and sophomore outside hitter Danielle Minch finished with eight.

It was sophomore Jacque Davisson though who stole the spotlight.

Davisson recorded seven service aces and had one stretch where she served for 11 consecutive points during a run in set three in which the team went 18-1 after the Falcons jumped out to a 2-1 lead.

“It’s been something we’ve been working on in practice just refining it and it’s cool that it actually shows up in the game,” said Davisson.

Davisson’s seven aces is second most in team history.

Hilbert was impressed with the team’s serving on Saturday.

“This game was about serving and defense and blocking,” said Hilbert. “Long point runs like that and then we would side out because we passed the ball well.”

Hilbert got the opportunity to mix and match with his lineups, due to Katelyn Steffan (knee) and Crystin Roderick (neck) being out with injuries, but also because of the big lead.

“So we got to play a lot of people, got good performances from everybody,” said Hilbert. “We have good leadership and good setting, so you can do different things and it works out well.”

The team used a different lineup for every set and Sanders played at both setter and right side hitter.

“Evan is an extremely functional volleyball player in all regards, she knows the whole game and that helps,” said Hilbert.

Sanders recorded four kills, four assists, seven digs and had a hand in three blocks. She is used to playing all over the court from her experience in high school and club ball.

“It’s not anything new to me (to play every position),” said Sanders. “I’m surrounded by so many amazing players who take a lot of pressure off me. They are doing their job so well that I can focus on me and make as little errors as possible.”

The team even had a different player wearing the libero jersey on Saturday as sophomore Audrey Hemmings replaced Katelin Batten in the third set.

“Who knows maybe she’ll be that for us someday,” said Hilbert. “Audrey has been serve receiving really well. I thought I’d give her a shot.”

Freshman Lisa Weintraub made her second appearance of the season, coming in the third set. Senior Jaime Strauss returned from a concussion to play one set and recorded five kills.

Sanders said it is games like this over lesser opponents that the team can grow and work on different things.

“It’s always easy to get pumped up for the big games where you have a big name team on the other side of the court, but it’s the little games where you can work on things and get better that are going to get you victories against those big name teams,” said Sanders. “This is what we should be like, this is what’s expected, it’s what we’re capable of.”

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Women’s basketball squeaks by Adams State

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Oct 302008
Authors: Justin Warren

The CSU women’s basketball team put on a show Friday night at Moby Arena in front of 1,054 fans for a Halloween win over the Adams State Grizzlies 59-58.

With nine seconds left in the game, CSU’s Kim Mestdagh rebounded a missed free throw attempt by Adams State’s Jocelyn Pardilla and hit sophomore point guard Zoi Simmons on a pass to the inside for the winning layup at the buzzer.

“I knew just to go for it and hope for a foul,” said Simmons.

In the final two minutes of play the Rams began their 12-2 winning run with sophomore Bonnie Barbee’s back to back three-pointers and Juanise Cornell’s layup with 10 seconds left on the clock to pull the Rams within one point.

“I don’t think we ever panicked,” said Cornell. “No one ever flinched and we still believed that we could win this game.”

Friday night marked the first win for new head coach Kristen Holt.

“That is a huge win for use and the fact they did not give up says a lot,” said Coach Holt. “We have many things to work on but this is a good building block for us.”

The first half of play was mocked by turnovers on both sides of the court and poor shooting with the Rams sinking only 32.1% of their shots and Adams State shooting 33.3% from the field.

“I think it was nerves,” said senior captain Kandy Beemer. “It was good that we got it out now in the first game.”

During the second half it was apparent the first-game jitters were gone for both teams, with less turnovers and more scoring.

Adams State took control of the second half, taking a two-point lead with 7:08 left on the clock and not relinquishing that lead until the final seconds.

Bonnie Barbee led the Rams in scoring with a total of 17 points and was a major contributor in the Rams come-from-behind win.

“Honestly I was just hoping they (three-pointers) were going to go in,” said Barbee. “I just got lucky.”

On the other side of the court, Adams State’s Ver Jo Bustos was hard to stop for the Rams defense; scoring a game high 26 points for the Grizzles and adding to an 8-0 run that put her team up by four with 6:40 left in the game.

“She was good with a really fast release and she hit shots that were right in our face,” said Cornell.

Adams State, who finished last season at 16-12 in Division II play, was tough competition for the Rams in their first exhibition game.

“They are a very good team and sometime they would out- quick us,” said Coach Holt. “The fact they had 26 turnovers I think helped us win.”

The Rams will be off until next Friday when they host Colorado Christian in the second and final exhibition game of the season.

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Rams headed to MWC Championships

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Oct 302008
Authors: Scott Callahan

The CSU cross country teams have been preparing for two weeks for their biggest race yet this season, the Mountain West Conference Championship race, and on Saturday, it’s finally here.

Despite disappointing recent losses, both teams are fully confident in their capability to compete and make CSU proud this weekend in San Diego.

The women are the defending MWC champions and will be looking to repeat last year’s success this weekend. After winning the conference for the first time last year, they went on to finish 15th in the NCAA Championship race.

At the beginning of this season, the team was picked in the coach’s poll as the team to beat. But so far the team has had less than a perfect performance, making their home in seventh place.

“We’ve struggled a bit,” said Bryan Berryhill, the head cross country coach. “We are coming off winning the title last year and were picked to win at the beginning of the season and we haven’t lived up to those expectations.”

The women are going into this race with two poor performances, which is the exact opposite from last year, when they had momentum from a string of three great races going into the conference championship. But this change may not be such a bad situation to be in.

“We are a very young team, and with a young team, I think going in as the underdog probably a better position than going in as the favored,” Berryhill said.

The runners seem confident in their talent and refuse to give up on their goals, no matter what people think.

“A lot of teams outside of CSU don’t expect a lot out of us, but we expect a lot out of ourselves, ” said Ellie Rastall, a redshirt freshman.

The men have also been struggling, but they are still within reach of their goal from the beginning of the season — to finish in the top two in conference and place in sixth or better in the region. The last two races have put them back and given them more of a challenge, but those races are behind them.

“This is really when season starts counting,” Berryhill said. “These are the two biggest races of the year. You can erase a lot of bad memories in one or two races.”

Berryhill said the team hasn’t lost its morale heading into the championships.

“I’m very amazed at how they can get upbeat after two pretty bad performances and still be positive and confident going into the conference meet,” Berryhill said.

The women will race first in a 6k course this weekend at Missions Bay Park in California against the eight other teams in the MWC. In the race will be the No. 28 Bingham-Young women’s team and the No. 23 New Mexico team.

The men will race shortly after on an 8k course against the five other teams in the conference. They will be racing quality competition in BYU’s No. 11 ranked team. BYU has won the conference title nine times in the 10-year history of the league.

Cross country beat writer Scott Callahan can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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Talkin’ Rams with the Ramblers

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Oct 302008
Authors: Transcribed Nick Hubel

This week, Nick Sebesta, Johnny Hart, Connor Glass and Mike Donovan break down the CSU-BYU game as only the Ramblers can. Check out the Ramblers on Tuesdays on 90.5 KCSU.

NS: BYU everybody! My question to you guys is, BYU is coming to Fort Collins, the Rams have a little bit of momentum with that win over SDSU, and can put a little credit towards that they gave TCU a run for their money and could have won. I’m not saying should have won, but could have.

MD: It was winnable. They belonged on the same field as TCU.

NS: Yeah. Now with BYU coming in 17th ranked, what are your guys’ chances for Colorado State?

MD: I think it’s possible. We really do have that home field advantage. And when I say that, I don’t mean the crowd. But CSU does protect Hughes pretty well under Fairchild.

CG: I think it’s going to be a good game. If CSU doesn’t have a chance to beat BYU now, especially after the loss to TCU where they got destroyed and then the next week playing UNLV and almost losing that game, just winning it by a touchdown at home. This is a team that’s struggling a little bit and maybe not deserving of that top 25 ranking that everybody thinks they are.

JH: I think also CSU, they play up to their competition a lot. That shows in the SDSU game last week and TCU a couple of weeks before that. They have the ability to play good football and it just depends on which way it goes against BYU.

NS: It’s going to be interesting. If you had looked at this game and not seen BYU lose to TCU and not seen the stumble against UNLV and then looked at CSU as quote-end-quote rebuilding year this year, it would look like it would be a 70-7 New Mexico over SDSU. With the power that BYU had going into this season and that they showed, and then CSU on paper.

MD: It would still be a big upset, let’s not downplay it.

NS: Oh yeah. You’re right.

MD: We’re double-digit dogs at home. Again, we’re not saying gamble, we’re just using this as a barometer. If you’re a double-digit dog at home you’re not meant to win. Maybe 10 out of 100 you’re going to win.

NS: But you see what I’m getting at? In the mind.

MD: Yeah, for CSU players, they believe they can win this game. Which it wasn’t last year or two years ago when BYU came here, when they had nothing to play for. Gartrell and those seniors want to go to a bowl game. That’s all they want to do. And this is the make or break game I think.

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Rams look to ‘green out’ BYU

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Oct 302008
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

Fresh off their first road victory in over a year, the CSU football team is prepared to host the No. 17 BYU Cougars in a game of epic proportions in the Mountain West Conference standings.

While most of the country is sitting on BYU (7-1, 3-1 MWC) to win this game, the Rams (4-4, 2-2 MWC) would jump the Cougars in the MWC standings if they were to win, placing them at no worse than a tie with Air Force for third with three games remaining.

“I actually didn’t even know that, really,” said junior wide receiver Rashaun Greer when asked about the conference standings. “That’s an interesting fact, but we can’t even think about it, we just gotta go out there and play like both teams are 0-0 . we just gotta go out there and give it our best.”

In order for CSU to beat BYU on Saturday, they’ll have to overcome a four-year losing streak of the Cougars.

But head coach Steve Fairchild likes his team’s chances.

“We have a chance to really make some noise in this game,” Fairchild said. “And, it will be a good measuring stick for us too to see how much we’ve improved.”

Fairchild continued, saying that despite how well CSU played against TCU and how the Horned Frogs defeated BYU 32-7, he’s not going to use those two games to predict Saturday’s game.

“I never do any of those ‘won by so many points’ because BYU was on a Thursday night down (in Fort Worth, Tex.). They’re a good team and, obviously, we’re trying to get to their level so this will be a good test for us.”

Leading the way for BYU’s high scoring offense this year is quarterback Max Hall and tight end Dennis Pitta. On Monday, Hall, who has already thrown for over 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, was named as a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, an honor given to college football’s best quarterback. The award has been won by BYU quarterbacks on four occasions, most recently by Ty Detmer in 1991.

Even with the strong offense of BYU, Rams sophomore linebacker Ricky Brewer says that the team is focused.

“It’s a new day, it’s a new opponent, you do take things from your losses and you learn lessons and the number one thing that we have to keep in mind is that this is our house; we gotta protect it and defend our turf,” said the Mullen High School graduate.

“It’s going to be an exciting environment and we need that student support. I believe if we get that, having them back us, we’ll come out with spirit and enthusiasm that can’t be matched.”

Adding to the tenacity that the student support brings, members of the CSU football team, including running backs John Mosure and Gartrell Johnson III, have asked for the fans to help the Rams ‘green out’ BYU on Saturday afternoon by wearing the color green to Hughes Stadium.

Kickoff is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be televised on The Mtn.

Football beat reporter Matt L. Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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Pagnotta out for the season

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Oct 302008
Authors: Nick Hubel

Senior safety Mike Pagnotta is out for the year with a combination of shoulder and elbow injuries, head coach Steve Fairchild said Thursday.

“He’s a very good football player and was having a tremendous year,” Fairchild said. “I feel sorry for the young man because he was having that type of year. He did a lot, he’s had a great career here and he’ll help us in other ways.”

Pagnotta is tentatively scheduled for shoulder surgery early next week, Fairchild said.

The senior has two interceptions and 53 tackles (second most on the team) this year. He also has two fumble recoveries and two sacks in eight games played.

Klint Kubiak, the other half of the lynchpin safety duo that has helped to anchor the Rams’ defense this year, is likely to return to the field this weekend in a limited capacity. He has been dealing with an ankle injury for the past few weeks.

“Kubiak will play some; we’ll keep looking at it,” Fairchild said.

Cornerback Brandon Owens is also expected to be able to play Saturday, following a week’s worth of red-jersey recovery from an ankle injury.

“We don’t worry about who can or can’t play. It’s like the weather,” Fairchild said. “We’ll put some guys out there and it’s our job to get them prepared to play well.”

Sports Editor Nick Hubel can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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The Next Big Thing

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Oct 302008
Authors: Nick Hubel

Justin Holland stood on the CSU football practice fields in a pair of athletic shorts and a sweatshirt, mesh-back hat pulled down tight against the October wind, watching. A long mid-week, mid-season practice was over, and most of the players had already headed into the locker room.

Junior third-string quarterback Grant Stucker, donning a black quarterback jersey and standing a few paces to Holland’s left, dropped back in an imaginary pocket, turned and fired a spiral some 25 yards toward the endzone.

His target, a hole in the mesh net tied securely to the extreme flanks of the goalpost, was no larger than two feet high by two feet wide. The spiral never got more than 10 feet off the ground as it rifled toward the goal, passing through the hole and into the dangling mesh bag with two other footballs. Three in a row.

“That’s 30 bucks you owe me,” Stucker said, half-jokingly.

Holland smiled, picking up a football and getting into position to make a throw to win some money back. The 2005 CSU graduate and former Rams quarterback, now a volunteer quarterbacks coach with the team, would need every bit of the arm that made him such a highly touted high school prospect in Colorado. With the wind gusting and without even an arm circle to loosen his muscles, Holland missed low. But the zip was there. Talent is hard to hide.

For the Rams football team, however, it’s not a matter of recognizing talent at the quarterback position. The Rams have seen talent come and go.

It’s everything that comes after — the hard work, nurturing, long hours in the film room studying and heavy dash of luck — that’s needed to turn a talented prospect into the kind of leader that Ram fans have come to expect from a school that was once the quarterback capital of the conference.

Finding the diamond recruit or building him from the current stable of quarterbacks in the program is a process that head coach Steve Fairchild believes will continue to evolve.

“Newton didn’t have any offers. Moses Moreno didn’t have any offers, other than to come here,” Fairchild said of the CSU greats of the ’90s. “It’s just a lengthy process to get it done. We just haven’t been here coaching the way that we coach for very long. I’m confident we’ll have good quarterback play here — it’s just going to take time.”

Success begets success

When then-offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild came to CSU in 1993, he was greeted by a junior quarterback named Anthoney Hill. Hill struggled with his accuracy at times but was mobile and intelligent. Hill also had a relatively successful season under his belt from the year before. In one year’s time, Fairchild helped mold Hill into one of the best quarterbacks in the school’s history.

In 1994, Hill threw for 2,552 yards (10th on the school’s all-time list) and had a quarterback rating of 137.0 while leading the team to a 10-2 record and a Holiday Bowl berth.

“It’s just something that you’ve got a great quarterback coach in Steve Fairchild, and he prepared us all to do the thing the right way. You felt like when you stepped on the field after working with him all week that there was nothing that was going to surprise you. The game was easy, compared to practice,” Hill said. “It’s all about preparation. He made you get every throw in every situation and you just felt comfortable.

“That’s kind of how we built the thing and how we are able to get good quarterbacks in here.”

Hill’s success brought more talent to the team and began the single best run of quarterbacks in the school’s history. 1997 Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year Moses Moreno, 1999 Mountain West Conference offensive player of the year Kevin McDougal, 2000 MWC offensive player of the year Matt Newton and the 2002 and 2003 MWC offensive player of the year Bradlee Van Pelt made the late ’90s and the early part of the new century in Fort Collins a circus of offensive output.

The success made recruiting easier, as Fairchild gained a reputation as a top-notch quarterbacks coach.

“I just really had a trust in his coaching abilities to kind of groom a quarterback along,” said Holland, who still holds the Colorado high school all-time record for career passing yards. “But he wasn’t the only reason I came up here. I watched CSU football all through high school, with Matt Newton coming up here and winning a couple of conference titles and player of the year awards, I knew that I was going to have an opportunity to win.”

When Fairchild left the Rams in 2000, Holland said that he was disappointed to have missed a shot to work with him. Since Fairchild’s departure and after Van Pelt’s success as a running quarterback in 2003, the Rams have had moderate success at the position, with five years of quarterback ratings over 120, but just one bowl game in 2005 — a lackluster 6-6 year.

“That’s something that’s been sad to see around here, is that we haven’t competed for a conference title since 2002. We need to be that upper-echelon-type team that competes with TCU and BYU and Utah every year and not fighting to get into a bowl game,” Holland said. “That was the tradition that was laid down early in the Sonny Lubick years, and I think this coaching staff is the staff that’s going to bring us back. But it definitely starts with recruiting.”

Bringing in the best

Recruiting – the bedrock of every successful college football program in the country – is a tricky business. There are hundreds of different factors that contribute to a high school player’s decision to attend one school over another. Campus life, proximity to a recruit’s family, scholarships and a program’s reputation can all make or break a school’s chances of landing a top-tier recruit.

For quarterbacks coming to CSU, the list seems a bit longer. The rich history of the program at the position and coach Fairchild’s reputation give this staff confidence that when they go out to recruit a quarterback, they will be able to sign a top talent. Fairchild’s pro-style offense, with a heavy amount of decision-making done at the line by the quarterback, multiple sets and a pretty even balance between running and passing, can also be a selling point.

“I think that offensively what we do here, recruiting quarterbacks, is very important to the success of our team. What we do offensively, if you’re a young man that plays quarterback, you would love to be in this pro-style offense,” said offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator Greg Peterson.

So far this season, according to Rivals.com recruiting information, the Rams have been looking at a long list of 17 high school quarterbacks from around the country. Most of the recruits are from the Colorado area or recruiting pipeline states like California, Florida and Texas.

According to Rivals.com prospect databases, the Rams have made offers to two quarterbacks so far this year, Will Secord of Frisco, Texas, and Colton Morrison of Oceanside, Calif. Neither accepted CSU’s offers, as Secord gave a verbal commitment to Arkansas and Morrison gave a verbal to San Diego State. The Rams’ two highest-rated quarterback recruits, Jordan Wynn of Oceanside and Clark Evans of Los Alamitos, Calif., both gave verbal commits to the University of Colorado earlier this year.

Currently, the Rams’ top-rated recruit who has yet to commit is Nico Flores of North Miami Beach, Florida. The 6-foot-2 Flores runs a 4.7 second 40-yard dash and is listed as a three-star recruit (out of five) and the 32nd best quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals. In addition to CSU, Boston College, Florida and Miami have all shown interest in him.

While coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits during the season (as per NCAA restrictions), coach Peterson said that the ideal quarterback for the Fairchild system needs to be able to do a number of different things.

“We want a guy that’s got a live arm. Height, I don’t know if it’s critical if a guy is six-foot and above, and a guy doesn’t have to be a runner in what we do,” Peterson said. “But you want to find as good of an athlete as you can to play the position. I think as we continue to grow in the program, the type of young men (being recruited) at all positions, in particular the quarterback position, will continue to get better . There’s a lot of great things ahead. We have high expectations and so do the young people that we’re recruiting.”

The quarterback position in college football has seemed to change in the last few years, evolving to focus more on the signal caller. Seven of the last eight Heisman Trophy winners have been quarterbacks. Before that (from 1972-2000), just seven of the 28 players selected for the Heisman were quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks coach Daren Wilkinson agreed that quarterbacks are becoming more important to a football team’s success, given the shift in offensive theory in the last 10 years. Around the country, teams are opening up their playbooks and running more spread style offenses, with four and five receivers on the field at one time.

“The way the things are, with spreading things out, you’ve got to have a guy back there who is capable and can make plays,” Wilkinson said. “. You could be the best coach in the world and know X’s and O’s better than anybody, but if you don’t have the guys to execute them it’s all for naught.”

Wilkinson also explained that much of the quarterback’s success is a direct result of the players around him. When CSU was winning consistently in the ’90s, running backs like Cecil Sapp were there to break up the pressure on the passing game and keep defenses honest.

Wilkinson said that CSU has that luxury this year, with Gartrell Johnson carrying a heavy load in the offense, and averaging 93.2 yards per game on the ground. He said that the quarterbacks are starting to respond to the positive situation in the way that some of the greats did 10 years ago.

“Now that Billy (Farris) is starting to figure things out, I think it shows,” Wilkinson said. “. Who cares who the opponent was — we couldn’t be stopped last week. And that was fun to watch.”

Changing a culture for the now

For all that the Fairchild system does to develop a player, everyone connected to the program seems to agree that the pro-style offense that he has implemented here is significantly more complicated than anything CSU has seen this decade. As such, the current crop of quarterbacks, who were brought in to run Sonny Lubick’s simpler and more straightforward offense, have had to overcome a steep learning curve on the way to mastering this system.

With a quarterback rating of 135.1, senior and former walk-on Billy Farris has performed relatively well in making the adjustment to the more complicated offense. Coach Fairchild explained that how the offense fares down the road, this year and into the future, is the true test.

“The development takes much more time at that position. We’ll have very good quarterback play here down the road, but it takes time to develop a guy,” Fairchild said.

The Rams have a handful of viable options at the position, with junior Grant Stucker, redshirt freshman Klay Kubiak, redshirt freshman TJ Borcky and true freshman Alex Kelly making up the crop of quarterbacks with a good opportunity to start in the coming years.

“Come spring ball, these guys are going to be in a competition and it’s going to be the best player, and it’s frankly going to come down to the guy who is tough enough to handle Fairchild’s coaching,” Holland said. “You’ve got to be mentally tough to make it through spring ball. If you know that he’s going to pull you out every time you make a mistake, you’ve got to be mentally tough enough to put that behind you and just go out and play your game.”

Coach Hill agreed, explaining that it’s all about having confidence and trust in the system.

“They struggle at times, but there’s guys with some tools over there now that can get things done. It’s about the confidence factor,” Hill said. “If they believe in what they’re being taught and they go out and execute it like we know the can, they can be as successful as any of the quarterbacks that have come through here. I firmly believe that.”

Sports Editor Nick Hubel can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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Rams look to extend streaks

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Oct 302008
Authors: Matthew Pucak

The No. 14 CSU volleyball team will be shorthanded against Air Force on Saturday as they look to extend two impressive winning streaks.

The Rams have won 25-straight matches at Moby Arena and have defeated the Falcons the last 29 times they have played, but this time, CSU will be without starting opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan and reserve defensive specialist Crystin Rodrick for the game, while senior outside hitter Jamie Strauss is still working her way back from a concussion.

The losses will force the Rams to adjust their lineup, but they are confident that they have the depth to overcome the injuries.

“Pretty much everyone on our team is capable to step into somebody else’s shoes if they can’t play,” said freshman Evan Sanders, who is the Rams setter of the future, but who played outside hitter in high school, a role that she has had to fill for the Rams lately.

Fortunately for the Rams, these injuries have come during a stretch were the Rams have had just two matches in the last two weeks, so they have had time to get healthy.

Head coach Tom Hilbert said that the effects of having both Strauss and Steffan miss practice were mixed, as it kept him from working with them, but it allowed sophomore hitters Jacque Davisson and Danielle Minch to play a more prominent role.

The Rams only have eight regular season games remaining, and Hilbert feels that there is still plenty left for his team to improve on, if they want to achieve their goals this season.

“We have eight matches in a month and we have hopefully two-to-three weeks more in the NCAA Tournament, so I hate to use the words home stretch, because your team can let up. We have to practice hard and improve ourselves to play the best teams in the country,” Hilbert said.

Though the Rams have lost just six sets to Air Force in the entire history of the series, the Rams still feel that the Falcons will be a challenge.

“They can be kind of scrappy on defense and they don’t really have anything to lose. They will come out with a lot spirit and they will play us really tough,” Strauss said.

Hilbert said that Air Force is almost impossible to game plan for because they switch up their style every match, and he singled out Jasamine Pettie, the Falcons middle blocker, as a player to watch out for.

CSU beat Air Force 3-0 in Colorado Springs earlier this season, and they are looking for a similar result this time around.

“Every team is going to play their best game against us, because they don’t have anything to lose, so I expect them to fight, but if we take care of our job, it shouldn’t look too different than our last match against them,” Sanders said.

Volleyball beat writer Matthew Pucak can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

CSU opens preseason with Adams State

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Oct 302008
Authors: Justin Warren

The CSU women’s basketball team will kick off the start of the 2008-2009 season tonight at 7 p.m. in Moby Arena.

The Rams play host to Adams State College Grizzlies of the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference for the first of two exhibition games before the season officially begins.

This year, the Rams will be coached by Kristen Holt, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach after Jen Warden was fired last March.

Coach Holt hopes her new format for the team will have better results than last year’s game plan.

“We have a different style than we did last year and I think the players are excited to play that more up-tempo format,” Coach Holt said.

Coach Holt and the Rams hope to turn this season around from last year’s disappointing 2-27 regular season.

The projected starting five for tonight are Australian native Carine Reimink at center, forwards Juanise Cornell and Britney Minor, and guards Zoi Simmons and three-point ace Kandy Beemer.

“I think this season will go good,” said power forward Juanise Cornell. “It is a lot different than the last three years and we are going to be a lot more focused on defense.”

The captain for the Rams will be senior guard Kandy Beemer, who will be switching off the point guard position with sophomore Zoi Simmons, and moving to shooting guard.

“I think we will play better basketball all around this year,” Beemer said.

The starting five only have an average height of 5 ft. 8 in., but with the quickness and aggressive play the team has shown in practice, the Rams will be tough competitors for Adams State.

“Defense is a real emphasis this year and I think the kids like the new format,” coach Holt said.

Comparing the two teams based on last year’s final stats, on paper Adams State has a slight advantage in points per game, field goals and rebounding percentages. However, the teams look very equal in every other aspect.

The Rams concluded last year’s Mountain West Conference Championship with an upsets over UNLV and third ranked Utah. The Rams hope to carry that momentum into the start of this season.

“I think we will see improvements this season, even if it is not in the win/loss column,” coach Holt said. “I need my experienced players to step up this season.”

The Rams will play one more exhibition game on Nov. 7 against Colorado Christian at Moby Arena. The team will then open the regular season playing away at Wichita State.

Tonight’s admission at Moby Area is free for all, with a Halloween costume contest and a trick-or-treat session following the game.

Everyone is encouraged to come out and support the Rams in their first game of the season.

Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at sports@collgian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm