April 12, 2014
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The Colorado State football program traveled an hour south to Commerce City for its annual spring practice in the Denver area.
Saturday marked a unique opportunity for close to 1,500 football fans, as the team held an open scrimmage at Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the first time. In the past two years, CSU held a basic practice for fans to attend at Infinity Park in Glendale.
Third-year Head Coach Jim McElwain understands the importance of hosting a spring event in the Denver area, a region which is home to more than 43,000 CSU alumni. After Saturday's scrimmage McElwain expressed the importance of this trip for the team.
"I just love this," McElwain said. "Not only to let people come out and see the Rams but it gives our guys an opportunity. It's fun to be able to see some of the new guys respond in a different atmosphere."
The Rams responded well to the new environment.
"The guys played with some energy, but we kept it pretty vanilla, which was OK," McElwain said. "We were able to see some things. I thought our offensive line did a good job and that was good to see. Garrett (Grayson) was sharp, a couple drops but other than that I thought it was pretty clean."
Senior quarterback Grayson completed 17-of-21 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. Second-string quarterback Nick Stevens, a redshirt freshman from Murrieta, Calif., completed 12 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns and Fort Collins product Craig Leonard was a perfect 5-for-5 for 46 yards. Combined the Rams signal callers completed 434 yards while completing 77.3 percent of their passes.
Sophomore wide receiver Rashard Higgins led the Rams in both receptions (5) and receiving yards (93). Senior Charles Lovett hauled in five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
At running back, arguably the most-watched position group of spring, junior Jasen Oden ran the ball 15 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
"That guy ran pretty good, don't you think?" McElwain said of Oden. "He's got some skills and I was really happy to see that. What I was excited to see was that he got his pad level down, moved the pile and made a couple good cuts."
Redshirt freshman Bryce Peters carried the ball 11 times for 27 yards and two scores.
"I feel good at running back," McElwain said. "We lost some good ones but that is why you recruit. We have some good players coming in and these guys that are here have done a good job with what we need."
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Deonte Clyburn led the Rams with six tackles. Defensive linemen Terry Jackson and Martavius Foster and linebacker Evan Colorito all registered sacks. The play of the day from the defense was made by redshirt junior cornerback Saladin McCullough II. McCullough stepped in front of a pass thrown towards the sideline and returned in 41 yards for a score. It was the lone defensive touchdown on Saturday.
"We didn't really allow them to do anything today, they were kind of sitting ducks," McElwain said. "At the same time, I thought they played high. They tackled much better this scrimmage than they did in the last scrimmage. They rushed the passer at times, but I thought the quarterbacks got the ball out of their hands pretty quickly at times."
The Rams will return to the practice field on Tuesday, April 15 and will shift their focus to next Saturday's spring game. CSU's annual Green and Gold Game will start at 11 a.m. MT at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. Fans that can't make the game can watch it for free on CSURams.com.
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