The Colorado State football team enters its final week of preparation before Saturdayâ€™s Rocky Mountain Showdown with several question marks.
Over the weekend, the Rams participated in a two hour simulated game format at Hughes Stadium in an attempt to find some answers. After practice, coach Steve Fairchild said he was reasonably encouraged by the performance of his offensive unit.
â€œI kind of liked the way we played on offense (Saturday),â€ Fairchild said. â€œIt was hot and cold at times, we are still somewhat inconsistent.â€
The choice words of praise came just two days after Fairchild described the offense as â€œnot even close to game ready.â€ Fairchild was particularly impressed by the play of freshman Pete Thomas, commending his starting quarterback for his clock management and decision making.
â€œIt was really good to get out here and go through all of our pregame routine,â€ Thomas said. â€œI think we had a pretty good day but still have some stuff to work on this week.â€
Fairchild mentioned Thomas, along with wide receivers Byron Steele, Tyson Liggett and Matt Yemm, as players who helped their stock most during Saturdayâ€™s practice.
â€œByron Steele really looked good to me today,â€ Fairchild said. â€œAnd I donâ€™t say enough good things about Matt Yemm and Tyson Liggett. They practice hard and you know what you are going to get from them.â€
Thomas connected with Steele, a sophomore, for two touchdowns during Saturdayâ€™s simulation, perhaps signaling Steeleâ€™s arrival as the Rams â€œgo-toâ€ receiver.
â€œI wanted to come out and try and simulate the way I want to play next Saturday,â€ Steele said. â€œI want to get every detail down during this next week, whether itâ€™s routes, blocking or catching the ball.â€
The simulated game began in the early afternoon to mimic the early kickoff this Saturday against CU-Boulder.
In this his third season at the helm of CSU football, Fairchild will aim to lead the Rams to their sixth Rocky Mountain Showdown triumph in the past 12 years. Before 1999, when the Rams dismantled the Buffs 41-14 at Mile High Stadium, CSU had won just one Showdown in the previous 40 years (1986).
Fairchild never had the chance to play CU-Boulder in his playing career at CSU, though he wished he did.
â€œWe always wanted to play (CU-Boulder),â€ said Fairchild, who quarterbacked the Rams from 1978-80. â€œAs a coach, this game is tremendous for both universities, the state of Colorado and the city of Denver.â€
Fairchild believes the week ahead of the Rams will be crucial in deciding this weekendâ€™s result against the Buffaloes.
â€œThis week is going to have to be our best week of practice in order for us to have a chance,â€ he said.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.