The Weekly Blitz

Aug 302009
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

After writing last week’s column on volleyball, I was originally planning on this week being all about football with the season kickoff just six days away. But then volleyball lost for the first time in 28 home matches on Friday against Pepperdine. Then again on Saturday to Oregon State.

Even with those losses, there was redemption on Sunday when the Rams swept Cal Poly behind the stellar play of Danielle Minch and her three service aces and 15 kills. While I won’t focus my column on it this week, I will say that there is no need to panic on the volleyball front. Yes, it sucks that CSU’s winning streak ended on Friday, a new one began (hopefully) on Sunday with the number one.

Now to the gridiron.

As you’ve probably heard by now, head football coach Steve Fairchild named senior Grant Stucker the starting quarterback on Friday afternoon, making the Ponderosa High School graduate the first Colorado native to start under center since Justin Holland’s tenure ended in 2005.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Stucker, let me give you a quick run down.

He’s 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, likes to run and is good at doing so. He’s not the Terrelle Pryor, one spin move and he’s off to a 60-yard touchdown type. He’s not the Tim Tebow, run you over type. He’s Grant Stucker, and while he is mobile, he also throws a phenomenal deep ball. As a junior last year, his deep ball was much better than Billy Farris’, and this year it has improved even more.

The main question people have, or the most criticism he seems to receive in practice from coaches, is about his short-to-intermediate range passes, struggling in consistency with reads and accuracy. Sometimes he’s spot on, others Nick Oppenneer just got a pick-six and Fairchild throws TJ Borcky in as quarterback for the remainder of practice.

Even with some of the publicized “struggles” (struggling is a relative term) Stucker has had during camp and how extremely vocal Fairchild has been about the situation, I don’t mind it. Why?

Because Fairchild is an amazing coach of quarterbacks. He wouldn’t be so hard on Grant if he didn’t think — excuse me, know — that Stucker has everything it takes to bring the Rams into contention for a MWC championship.

Remember how worried Fairchild seemed to be about the wide receivers last summer? How they may hold the quarterbacks back and hurt the team’s possible potential? He seemed to be really hard on them. Well now the receivers are the strong point, in terms of skilled positions, on this offense. Rashaun Greer is a preseason candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, Dion Morton still has hands made of glue and Ryan Gardner might actually be the most improved player on this entire team from a year ago.

I’ve heard so many people question Fairchild’s methods of being too openly displeased by certain positions to the media, how him choosing Stucker over Jon Eastman is a huge mistake. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Why is it such a bad idea? Because Stucker has never started at the college level? Because he has only thrown passes in a game that the Rams were getting blown out of? Because he only has one year left in the program, and CSU will have to start the whole process over next season?

Shut up. I mean, seriously, shut up.

Steve Fairchild is, for all intents and purposes, a miracle worker. He’s the Anne Sullivan of the MWC, if you will.

Last summer CSU was in the exact same situation with a junior and a senior competing for the starting job, Farris won and led the Rams to a 7-6 season with a bowl victory after the Rams won only three games in 2007. Like Stucker, Farris had never really completed any passes in games that CSU still had a chance to win. While he wasn’t the greatest quarterback, Farris did what it took to lead CSU, and that’s exactly what is expected of Stucker starting on Sunday night.

Keep in mind, Stucker has something going for him that Farris did not. Stucker has had an entire extra year with Fairchild to develop his skills.

Before we all riot because a former 2-star prospect just beat out a former 3-star prospect for the starting quarterback job, can we at least give the man a chance? What do ya say we let No. 18 take the field on Sunday, blood boiling with the leave-it-all-on-the-field attitude, ready to finally get his chance to lead the Rams against those “too-good” hippies from this state’s other school? He’s a Colorado native and now he’s getting his shot.

Oh, I almost forgot.

Go Rams.

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at

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