A new era is being ushered in at the quarterback position for CSU football. Goodbye Bradlee Van Pelt and hello Justin Holland.
Holland, a graduate of Bear Creek High School in Lakewood who is now entering his junior year, plays with a style similar to many of the CSU quarterbacks before Van Pelt. With Holland at the helm, Rams fans will watch this pocket passer go deep.
The style of the Rams offense this year will be different from when Van Pelt was the QB. Holland is a drop-back passer with a gun for an arm. Fans should expect to see a lot more deep balls and fewer mad scrambles.
“Justin’s biggest strength is his arm. (Holland) has been taking reps with the first team for a long time so he has been ready to play for a couple of years,” said quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt.
Although Holland has been playing behind Van Pelt for the last two years, he has shown he is ready to take charge of the Rams offense. Last year Holland finished the season completing 29 of 43 passes and three touchdowns, including going 8 of 12 for 79 yards in his first career start in the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl game last year.
Holland feels confident that he is ready to be the Rams new quarterback. He said that while he could be a little more comfortable with some more game experience, he knows the offense and the players around him extremely well.
One of the most important players around him this year will be junior wide receiver David Anderson. Anderson, who set CSU school records with 72 receptions for 1,293 yards last year, is excited about the opportunity to catch some long balls from Holland.
“We both started out in the second-team huddle as freshmen and last year I was in the first but we have been together for three years now so we are definitely on the same page,” Anderson said.
Holland felt equally excited about the prospect of throwing to Anderson this year.
“Dave is an easy player to throw to, he runs great routes and you always know where he’s going to be on the field. Guys like that are really easy to throw to and we are only getting better in camp,” he said. Holland spent his off-season in the weight room. Hammerschmidt said that while the arm and right mentality have always been there, Holland just needed to add some size.
As ready as Holland feels, he and the rest of the Rams will be tested in a big way during the first two weeks of the season when they face-off against in-state rival Colorado and defending co-national champion Southern California.
Both these games will be in hostile territory with the Rams heading into Boulder’s Folsom Field and then USC’s home turf, the Los Angeles Coliseum. Holland is aware of the magnitude of these games and is preparing accordingly.
“We’ve really gotta get fired up. These games will put our season in perspective and let us know just how good we are,” Holland said. “These games can really set us up for a great season.”
In addition to those two games, the Rams are faced with a tough conference schedule including away games against preseason conference favorite Utah and San Diego State.
This year Holland is surrounded by all the tools necessary to make a run at the conference title. After hanging in the shadows of Van Pelt for the past two years, Holland will finally have a chance to show what he can do.