Steak or beans. Thatâ€™s whatâ€™s on the line Saturday in Jim McElwainâ€™s first spring game at CSU.
Winner gets a steak dinner. Loser is stuck with beans. Game on.
â€œMe personally, I donâ€™t like beans and hot dogs,â€ said wide receiver Marquise Law following the final regular practice of spring. â€œIâ€™m a steak guy. Iâ€™d rather be sitting there eating steak with a napkin in my shirt than sitting there eating beans.â€
The game is the annual, final exclamation point on the 15 NCAA allowed practices of spring. It is usually seen as a chance for fans to come out and get a look at their team in an atmosphere resembling a gameday in the fall.
The squad will be divided into green and gold teams with the top units facing each other. One team will have the first team offense and the second team defense, and the other will have the first defense and the second offense. Ones against ones. Twos against twos.
â€œI want them to compete,â€ McElwain said. â€œItâ€™s a game. To me, every time they put themselves on film, theyâ€™re telling a lot about who they are.â€
For the first time in years, the spring game will be, well, an actual game. Under former coach Steve Fairchild, it was more of a practice with all situations set in advance. The players wore game jerseys, but it didnâ€™t resemble a real contest. That will change Saturday.
â€œItâ€™s a whole different feel, and everybodyâ€™s happy about it too because itâ€™s going to be a game, not a practice,â€ Law, a senior, said. â€œThat was one of the downers for all the spring games before. It was more of a practice-like feeling. Everybodyâ€™s now all psyched up because itâ€™s a game to gauge where we are right now.â€
Undoubtedly, much of the fansâ€™ attention will be on the offensive side of the ball. The Rams have given up 42 sacks in the first two scrimmages and have struggled to move the ball with any consistency.
McElwain said part of the reason for the struggles has been that the offense is still so early in its install that plays and protections are still very vanilla, giving the defense a huge advantage.
Quarterback Garrett Grayson said there will be new wrinkles on Saturday as the offense tries to leave a positive last impression going into the summer.
â€œI just want to show that weâ€™ve made improvement,â€ Grayson said. â€œThatâ€™s the whole focus of this spring … to show that weâ€™ve improved as an offense.â€
As soon as practice ended Thursday morning, the trash talk began between the two teams. After all, there is a lot on the line.
â€œNobody wants beans,â€ Grayson said.
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Hughes Stadium
Free pancake breakfast for first 1,000 fans, beginning at 11 a.m.
Parking lots: Gates 2 and 4 open at 10 a.m.