Clear, 70 degrees, and virtually no wind – the CSU football team could not have asked for better weather on their 15th and final spring practice of 2009.
Despite the good weather and high spirits the players had leaving the Moby practice fields on Monday, there are still questions that remain unanswered.
With the starting quarterback position still up for grabs, head coach Steve Fairchild doesn’t feel that either Grant Stucker or Jon Eastman stands out above the other.
“Just the fact that we are so far away at quarterback is what stands out to me,” Fairchild said on Monday. “We’re going to do whatever, either you’re going to play or you’re not. I’m not going to put up with anything. Today was just awful (at quarterback). I mean, I feel sorry for the people who came out today to watch practice and witnessed that.”
With both the starting quarterback and running back positions still undecided, Fairchild said that he has concerns in both areas and wishes that his players competing for those spots would try as hard as Billy Farris or Gartrell Johnson III did last spring to stand out above their teammates.
Despite Fairchild’s disappointment at quarterback play this spring, Stucker and Eastman are both trying to stay positive and are working to get the Rams in the best position as possible come fall.
“I’m going to work harder than I ever did in my life this summer. I’m not here to sit on the sidelines,” said Eastman, a transfer from Snow College in Utah. “I’m here to play. I want to play. If I have to come out pissed off every day in practice to play then that’s what I have to do. I am disappointed with my performance this spring, but at the same time I feel like I need to be in there to make plays and get in my rhythm and ball out. I don’t feel like I was able to do that very well this spring.”
Stucker, who will be a senior during the 2009 season, also voiced his opinion on the friendly rivalry he has with Eastman, much like he did with Farris last season.
“I think I kind of have an advantage because I’ve been here longer. I know a little bit more about what coach expects,” Stucker said.
While both are staying optimistic, it’s clear that Fairchild is unhappy and is not opposed to trying out sophomore T.J. Borcky at quarterback again. Borcky was recruited to CSU as a quarterback, but made the switch to wide receiver last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams remain young, but with a strong upside after 15 spring practices. There are still a lot of questions about both the defensive line as well as linebacker, a spot that Mychal Sisson, a freshman All-American selection in 2008, will be the only returning starter to this fall. Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr likes what he has seen from several fighting to start at linebacker in 2009.
“I have learned that this group will really fight for the football. We have some physical guys in this group; I really like that,” Kerr said. “Sisson is an outstanding player and had a very good spring, but Mike Kawulok is the next best linebacker right now, especially from a consistency and toughness standpoint. Alex Williams is a guy that has stepped up; he had a very good spring and has gotten better and better. (He is) a very accountable guy so I’m looking for him to improve. James Skelton is also a guy I’m excited to see more from.”
While the 2009 spring season may be finished on the gridiron, Fairchild says that there is still much work to be done from now until summer, including having his student-athletes finishing up strong in the classroom.
Football beat writer Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.