Steve Fairchild entered the spring football season with a list full of questions to address. Five weeks and 14 practices later, the second year CSU head coach has answered some, but still has many more to figure out.
With the official end of the spring season a practice away, Fairchild is beginning to evaluate the progress the Rams have made during the spring.
While important questions have appeared to be answered for the Rams defensively, Fairchild explained that CSU still has a lot to consider offensively, especially with running backs.
“We have some big concerns at running back,” Fairchild said after a practice at Hughes Stadium on Saturday afternoon. “We haven’t had a running back play like he belongs here. I think we are further away from being where we need to be than I thought.
Somebody has to prove they can do it and I’m waiting to see that.”
CSU has numerous possibilities in their backfield, but has lacked the consistency needed to predict a starter for the fall. As many as five players remain in a battle for the starting spot, but Fairchild has given no word on a potential No. 1 yet.
Leonard Mason, a running back transfer form the College of the Desert, has been up and down the depth chart throughout the spring, looking like a clear-cut starter one day and finding a place in Fairchild’s doghouse the next. The junior didn’t hide the fact that he wants to be in the starting line up come opening day, but acknowledged he’s got some work to do to make it happen.
“I’m just competing,” Mason said.” My goal is to be No. 1, so I’ll just keep working hard and I’m always trying to get better. Days will have their ups and downs but you just have to work hard.”
Quarterback Grant Stucker openly admits that the Rams still have many issues to address, but said that the team has grown in the process.
“I think that the questions are still out there, but we’re more comfortable about where we’re at as a football team,” he said. “We still have a long way to go and there are still questions to be answered but we have an opportunity to be a team.”
Stucker has been battling for a starting spot throughout the spring, competing with junior transfer Jon Eastman and injured sophomore Klay Kubiak. While Fairchild recognized that Stucker put together a better spring than any other Rams quarterback, the second-year coach said he would wait until the beginning of the fall season to name a starter.
Stucker is taking the news of an extended competition well, and said he respects Fairchild’s decisions and criticisms through out the spring.
“You can’t take it to heart,” he said. “You have to get out there and leave everything on the field. When you get in the meeting room, you start hearing him and seeing that there is a lot of good stuff happening too. It’s not all bad all the time. He’s a straight up guy and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Even though there is a lot up in the air with the Rams offense, the Rams defense appears to gaining more solidity every practice.
Coming into the spring, CSU had lurking concerns at linebacker after losing two starters — one to graduation and the other to suspension.
Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said the linebackers aren’t completely there yet, but have made great strides during the spring.
“That was our biggest area of concern because we had a lot of inexperience there,” Kerr said. “I think we found a couple of guys there that I am pleased with, but they are going to have to continue to improve.”
Football beat writer Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.