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FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State Rams were back in action on Saturday for their second scrimmage of the spring season, and this time, with beautiful 70-degree weather, the Rams were able to compete outdoors. Playing on a full football field allowed the Rams to open up the playbook a bit more, in addition to adding more total plays to the scrimmage.
As was the case last Saturday, the offense again was dominant in the situational scrimmage.
"It was a beautiful day to have some recruits on campus and play a little football," head coach Mike Bobo said. "For the second scrimmage, I thought the offense had their way. They were a lot more efficient throwing the ball this week than we were last week."
Leading the No. 1s, quarterback Nick Stevens was efficient and effective, completing 20 of 25 passes (80.0 percent) for 316 yards and five touchdowns.
"I know there were a lot of yards and numbers, but the efficiency of Nick and the 1s was extremely good today," Bobo said. "I think the 1s might have been stopped just one time today. They did a nice job in and out of personnel plays and moving the ball."
Three of Stevens' touchdown passes went to Tennessee transfer Preston Williams, who has impressed coaches during camp - not only for his play on the field but his work ethic and how he pushes others. Williams finished the day with four catches for a team-most 93 yards. He will be unable to participate in 2017 due to NCAA transfer rules.
Rising senior Detrich Clark also had an impressive day, catching five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Olabisi Johnson had a team-most six catches for 81 yards and a score. On the ground, Darius May and Rashaad Boddie got the bulk of the load, rushing for 76 and 82 yards, respectively, with a touchdown each. Both backs redshirted in 2016 but are fighting for time in the regular rotation behind Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews.
"With the reps, I think they're getting more confidence each day they go out there," Bobo said of the young running backs. "All of them have shown bright spots."
Bobo noted that Boddie was impressive during Tuesday's full-pads practice while May had a couple nice runs on Saturday.
While the defense was again criticized for giving up the big plays, there were some highlights, including seven sacks, in addition to six quarterback hurries and five pass breakups. Christian Colon and Max McDonald were the tackling leaders (six apiece), while Josh Watson had four tackles, a sack, quarterback hurry and pass breakup.
Bobo also noted a play in which Justin Sweet tracked down Clark to tackle him at the 3-yard line on a long gain - praising his hustle and not giving up on the play - and the defense's ability to make stops during the fourth-and-short situational period.
"I don't want the offense to take the throttle off because that is going to make us better defensively," Bobo said. "So continue to push and continue to play fast, which they did, which caused some problems for the defense today. The offense is just ahead right now, and defensively we are not executing the call the right way."
CSU begins its fourth week of the spring next week with practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Spring camp will conclude on Saturday, April 22, with the Green & Gold Spring Game.
Clyburn receives great news: While linebacker Deonte Clyburn was unable to participate during Saturday's scrimmage, he received great news on Friday, learning that the injury he sustained the day prior was a hyperextension to the knee and nothing more serious. Clyburn ranked fourth on the team with 74 tackles during his junior season in 2015, including seven tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. He missed last year due to blood-clot symptoms, but was cleared to fully practice last month.
"I don't know if he will be back this spring, but the MRI was negative on ligament damage which was great news," Bobo said.
Ahead of the game: "I feel like we are way ahead, offensively, of where we were last year," Bobo reflected. "We have a lot of returning guys. We have an experience offensive line and a center that calls everything; we've got an experienced quarterback, experienced running backs. We've got experienced receivers. The tight ends are the guys that have zero experience - zero, because Dalton (Fackrell) is out. But they have done a nice job; I am really proud of them and of Johnny (Freismuth). Defensively, I think we are ahead in knowing things, we are just now executing. I am sitting in on all of the defensive meetings this spring. We are asking all the questions and understanding what we are trying to do conceptually, but we are not playing through our concepts as fast as we need to play."
Did not participate: The Rams got running back Izzy Matthews back, but several other players did not compete on Saturday: Evan Colorito, Deonte Clyburn, Dalton Fackrell, Shun Johnson, Richard King, Marvin Kinsey, Jr., Ben Knox, Braylin Scott, Anthony Smith and A'Keitheon Whitner.
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