Nov 272011
Authors: Cris Tiller

There’s a saying around football that if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.

As if the CSU football team didn’t already have enough problems, it’s found another—it has two quarterbacks.

There’s plenty of blame to go around on this team, primarily resting on the shoulders of head coach Steve Fairchild and starting quarterback Pete Thomas.

Fans grumbled about the lack of apparent progress in Thomas’ development. A growing segment called for freshman backup Garret Grayson, and three weeks ago they got their wish. But be careful what you ask for, because Grayson starting at quarterback isn’t the answer.

Think back to last season when Thomas started every game as a true freshman, and he looked every bit a freshman. Sticking with Grayson means starting back at square one—learning how to read defenses, fully grasp the playbook and command the respect of the offense and the team. That is clearly not the direction the Rams want to go in or the path you should want them to.

In his first action of the season against San Diego State, Grayson was admittedly shocked by the speed of the college game, and it showed on the field when he fumbled a snap and threw an interception while completing less than 50 percent of his passes.

Those in favor of Grayson will point to his first start as a college quarterback, which seemed doomed from the start against a ranked TCU team fresh off an upset against then No. 3 Boise State.

I won’t deny that he looked good using his mobility to escape the pocket and flashed arm strength (something we’ve yet to see from Thomas) throwing for 248 yards and a touchdown. However, the result on the field was hardly different from any other game this season in which Thomas was the starter.

Saturday showed more accurately what you can expect to see from the young Grayson. He got happy feet in the pocket on several occasions, either missing open receivers downfield or holding the ball too long, getting sacked four times.

Most importantly, there were ball security issues. He had a nice scramble for a first down, but instead of going down, he tried to fight for extra yards and fumbled. Later, he threw into triple coverage in the end zone for his third interception in as many games.

Over the past three games, Grayson completed 8 percent fewer of his passes than Thomas, has thrown for fewer yards per game and is already almost half way to the interception total (3) of Thomas (8).

Fairchild was adamant at his weekly press conference Monday that there was no quarterback dilemma saying, “I’d like to have that at every spot. I’d like to have players where we’re thinking, `Wow, there’s two guys worthy of starting—who do we play?’ It’s a good problem to have. I guarantee you this: It’ll bring out the best in both of them.”

Whether he sees a problem or not, he’s going to have to pick one of them—and that decision could very well determine his job status going forward.

Thomas is only a sophomore, and he does have the talent to develop into a strong quarterback in the conference. Fairchild remains loyal to Thomas and will naturally lean toward starting him because of the progress he feels he has seen in Thomas.

“Well, I’ll tell you one thing about Pete, and I’ve liked this about him since the day I met him: If there’s a guy that doesn’t need to be pushed, it’s him,” Fairchild said. “I’ve liked his approach and the way he goes about trying to be the best player he can be.”

Based on what I’ve seen, Thomas is still the best bet we have at winning football games—not Grayson. At least for now.

Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at

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