Sep 152011
 
Authors: Travis Todd

For the first time since 2007 CSU will go into the Rocky Mountain Showdown with a quarterback who has been there before.

Pete Thomas leads the Rams into the biggest game of the season tomorrow with added confidence in his second go-around.

“(That experience) helps a lot,” Thomas said. “I’m a lot more experienced, the running backs are a lot more experienced, the o-line is more experienced, everyone is.”

Coach Steve Fairchild agrees.

“We’re farther along than we were a year ago, and I know (Thomas) feels that way,” Fairchild said.
Thomas is one of five Rams who saw plenty of action in last year’s Showdown and will be starting on Saturday. The other four are Chris Nwoke, Weston Richburg, Crockett Gillmore and Mike Orakpo.

All of them agree the preparation going into this year’s game has been more productive.

“It’s a lot better feeling,” said center Richburg, who started last year’s game at guard. “I’m more comfortable with the offense, I’m more comfortable with reading defenses and last year this was my very first game so it was more of an eye-opening experience.”

Growing up in Colorado, Nwoke knows the significance of the Showdown and he is prepared to get the game underway.

“I’m definitely ready for a rivalry game,” Nwoke said. “Rivalry games can go any which way, and I’m definitely mentally ready for that big stage.”

Coming into this year’s game with a full season under his belt, Nwoke expects to go into the CU matchup tomorrow with added confidence.

“I’m just going to act like I’ve been there before,” Nwoke said. “Do what I’m supposed to do, there’s no need to be a hero, just do what we’ve been practicing and we will win that game.”

The CSU defense will have their hands full with a potent CU ground attack and through the air.

With team leader Myke Sisson out, Orakpo will have an increasingly important role at weak-side linebacker as the season wears on.

“It’s probably a (180) from last year,” Orakpo said. “Everything’s going a lot slower, I can just be out there making plays. I’m able to play and react faster.”

Richburg agrees that he is able to worry less about assignments. Instead, he is able to go out and play the game full-speed not worrying about missing a read.

“Being more confident about how our offense works and what calls to make, now I’m more focused on playing harder and going at a higher speed,” Richburg said.

Football Beat Reporter Travis Todd can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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