Apr 082012
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

Before alarm bells are rung, you have to take note that Friday was only the eighth practice under a new coaching regime.

But there is no doubt that the CSU football team’s performance in a scrimmage at Hughes Stadium was less than impressive, at least offensively.

To sum things up, it’s a good thing that quarterbacks aren’t allowed to be hit in practice, because if they were, there would likely be some battered and bruised signal callers.

Play is whistled dead during the scrimmage when a defensive player reaches the quarterback getting rid of the ball and it is counted as a sack.

And there were a staggering 27 sacks recorded on Friday.

“You only had (27)?” coach Jim McElwain joked afterward. “I had 32.”

Clearly there are offensive issues early in spring camp. The quarterbacks held the ball too long, the receivers didn’t make plays and the offensive line couldn’t protect.

“We’ve got three guys who I think played some for us last year who are actually not with us,” McElwain said about the offensive line. “Is it a concern? I mean, obviously you’re going to go and correct the mistakes and then you just see how they’re going to battle back. I think the positive is we’re not playing anybody next week.”

The line is shorthanded, with tackles Joe Caprioglio and Jared Biard out this spring with injuries suffered last season.

The bright spot for the offense was Chris Nwoke, who ran for 52 yards on seven carries.

Expected starting quarterback Garrett Grayson went 11-21 for 101 yards. Conner Smith went 8-12 for 63 yards and M.J. McPeek struggled, going 8-21 with an interception that was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Cory James.

While the offensive display was less than impressive, the defensive looked dominant.

Fifteen different players recorded sacks and the defense allowed only one offensive touchdown all afternoon.

The enthusiasm about the defensive effort has been tempered a bit since Friday, however. Two of the top performers, defensive end Nordly Capi (six tackles, four sacks) and linebacker Mike Orakpo (seven tackles, two sacks), were suspended indefinitely on Saturday for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Immediately after the scrimmage McElwain acknowledged that there is plenty to work on, but he was generally pleased how the first game-type of practice went.

“I was really kind of happy just about the way the pace of the scrimmage went,” McElwain said. “I thought the guys handled substitutions pretty decently for the first time, and I’m kind of, I hate to say it, maybe a little optimistic.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Top performers
Offense
RB Chris Nwoke: 7 carries, 52 yards
QB Conner Smith: 8-12, 63 yards
TE Kivon Cartwright: 4 receptions, 53 yards
Defense
DE C.J. James: 6 tackles, 5 sacks
DE John Froland: 4 tackles, 4 sacks
LB Cory James: 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD

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