BERKELEY, CALIF. — CSU coach Steve Fairchild likened his team’s offense at times in Saturday’s 42-7 loss at Cal to a “Barnum & Bailey Circus.”
Billy Farris, a fifth-year senior who had performed admirably as a first-year starter entering the game, was the ring leader, completing less than half his passes (12-25) for less than 100 yards (96), while getting sacked four times, throwing two interceptions and failing to get his team on the scoreboard.
After being unable to penetrate past Cal’s 39-yard line through three quarters, Farris was replaced by backup Klay Kubiak with the game well out of hand.
Kubiak, a redshirt freshman seeing his first action at the collegiate level, completed six of his nine passes for 130 yards, led the Rams to their only touchdown and completed passes of 63 and 36 yards.
The contrasting performances seem to reek of a quarterback controversy.
“I’ll reassess every position after every practice and every game. And I’ve tried to make that point very clear to our football team,” Fairchild said. “As to (the quarterback position) specifically, I don’t know, I’m gonna look at the film. I think it’d be unfair for me to make any judgment right now.”
Other than what Fairchild finds on the game film, there seems to be justification for going with either quarterback when the Rams enter conference play Saturday against UNLV.
Before the loss at Cal, CSU ranked second in the conference in passing offense with Farris at the helm. Also, losing your starting job after just one bad game would be a tough pill for any player to swallow.
But as Fairchild admitted himself: “We have our work cut out for us.”
Saturday’s loss certainly proved that, as it was the worst margin of defeat the Rams have endured since 2004 when they lost at then-third-ranked USC 49-0.
Giving a young quarterback like Kubiak experience now could pay dividends in the future.
After the game, Farris and Kubiak approached the situation similarly, putting the team first like any good teammates would. Though Farris wasn’t happy with getting replaced, he did recognize his backup’s impressive debut.
“I understand why (coach Fairchild) did it,” Farris said. “Obviously we didn’t have anything going. It was really looking bad. Good for Klay. He did well.”
Kubiak, younger brother of Ram safety Klint Kubiak, said his quarter of play was bittersweet.
“Given the situation, it didn’t feel great because of the score,” Kubiak said. “But if felt great to finally get into the game and finally feel like you helped the team.”
Rashaun Greer, CSU’s leading receiver on the season and the recipient of Kubiak’s 63-yard toss, said Kubiak told Greer before going in that he was going to try and make a big play.
“He did pretty good. I’m glad they put him in and gave him a chance to see what he could do,” Greer said. “He really had a confident feeling even though we were down so much.”
Throwing another factor into the equation was T.J. Borkey, a former quarterback who converted to wide receiver two weeks ago but lined up behind center three times Saturday. Borkey, a redshirt freshman from Orlando, Fla., ended up handing the ball off once and keeping it twice for a gain of two yards- all on a similar option play from the shotgun.
Fairchild said he might use Borkey in a similar role in the future but also that Borkey, like a lot of his teammates, have a lot of room for improvement.
“We just got to keep working and guys will improve, and our team will improve,” he said.
Sports writer Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.