Following the same logic he used to ignite a stagnant rushing attack just three games ago, CSU coach Sonny Lubick decided to shake up his lineup in the midst of the team’s seventh loss of the season.
Down by 17 points at the half, the Rams (1-7, 1-4 MWC) turned to junior backup quarterback Billy Farris to give the team something, anything, different – sidelining two-year starter Caleb Hanie in the process.
Hanie said that the move was not planned ahead of time, and that he had expected to start in the second half. Still, he admitted that the passing game was out of sync for most of the night.
“Obviously we were never in rhythm throwing the ball,” Hanie said. “We had a few dropped balls and a few misreads by the quarterback. I just don’t know what it was. We just got beat.”
Farris would play for one quarter, going 4-9 for 46 yards, before the team returned to Hanie in the fourth. Coach Lubick said that he saw flashes of effectiveness from his backup quarterback, but that’s all they really turned out to be: flashes.
“We were going to give him a shot in the first half but at the end of the first half we were trying to get a field goal, but we came in with a plan to put him in the game especially if we hadn’t scored a touchdown,” Lubick said. “He did look good for a few plays, but we would go down about 30 yards and that would be the end of it.”
Offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt reiterated coach Lubick’s feelings.
“We thought maybe we could get something, somewhere,” Hammerschmidt said. “He (Hanie) wasn’t playing terrible, he just wasn’t getting it done. So we decided to give Billy a chance.”
Hanie finished the game 12-18 for 94 yards and one interception. The pick was his 13th of the season, the second-most in the conference.
Still, coach Lubick said that Hanie would be the likely starter next week when the Rams travel to Provo, Utah, for a conference game with Brigham Young. Lubick did indicate that Farris could see time earlier in games in order to groom him for the starting spot next season.
When asked which quarterback he preferred, wide receiver Damon Morton declined to pick a favorite. Morton did say that Hanie is more precise, while Farris throws the ball with more velocity.
“If (Farris) was clearly the better quarterback he would play,” Lubick said. “We’ll go with the guy and get him ready for next year. I’d like to see Billy get some series in the first half and maybe the second half.”
Sports writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.