Seven games into the season, the Colorado State Rams have compiled a frustrating 2-5 record and, barring a major turnaround, will likely be outside of bowl contention for the second consecutive season.
Lost among that frustration has been the great strides taken by quarterback Pete Thomas in his freshman campaign.
His touchdown to interception ratio is far from extraordinary, as Thomas has posted just eight touchdowns, matching his interception total thus far. But when looking at his statistical efficiency, one cannot help but be impressed by a player who just celebrated his 19th birthday last week.
â€œHe is so much further along than I would have been at 19, and it shows when heâ€™s out there,â€ said junior wide receiver Matt Yemm. â€œHe has gotten more comfortable and confident with the offense since the start of the season.â€
In a sports world where instant gratification is expected, the development of a freshman quarterback can oftentimes test the patience of fans. The statistics would suggest that Thomas is steadily maturing into a fine collegiate quarterback.
Already, the California-native ranks 16th amongst FBS quarterbacks with a 67.7 completion percentage. Of the 15 quarterbacks in front of him, 14 are either juniors or seniors, illustrating how rare Thomasâ€™ natural accuracy is for his age.
â€œHeâ€™s impressed me ever since heâ€™s been here. Iâ€™ve always been hard on quarterbacks, but to do what heâ€™s done, I think, is remarkable,â€ coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œI keep saying this, the sky is the limit. I think heâ€™s got a great future, Iâ€™m excited to be able to work with him.â€
According to statistics from his first seven games, Thomas is projected to throw for 2,684 yards by seasonâ€™s end. In comparison, thatâ€™s over a hundred yards more than former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy threw for in his freshman season.
Thomas admitted that certain aspects of the game are getting easier for him as the season progresses, though he knows he still has a long way to go in his overall development.
â€œIâ€™m improving in every aspect of my game,â€ said Thomas after practice Tuesday. â€œGetting through my reads quicker and reading the defenses. But Iâ€™m still getting used to the speed of the game out there.â€
Thomas put together his best performance last Saturday in the 43-10 dismantling of UNLV, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions. In fact, Thomas almost had as many touchdowns as he did incompletions (4).
Thomas still has yet to impress on the road this season, with only two touchdowns and seven interceptions coming away from Hughes Stadium. Thomas will face his toughest road test of the season on Saturday when he leads the Rams to Salt Lake City to play No. 9 Utah.
Thomas felt that the Rams would only play as well as they practiced this week.
â€œIf we practice badly, we are going to play that way on Saturday,â€ Thomas said. â€œWe had a good practice (Tuesday), hopefully we can keep it going.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.