Aug. 13, 2011
By Zak Gilbert
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Crockett Gillmore made an acrobatic touchdown catch and converted a tough third down on Saturday afternoon at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, helping the CSU offense edge the defense in the Rams’ first major fall scrimmage.
The running scoreboard after the 45-play contest, which encompassed the first 11 practices including Saturday, read Offense 143, Defense 141. The scoreboard resets starting Monday.
Gillmore, a 6-6, 245-pound sophomore from Bushland, Texas, caught three passes for 15 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown from Garrett Grayson. On the score, Gillmore ran a fade route, out jumped his adversary, briefly lost control of the ball, then regained his focus to corral the ball between his knees in the end zone. The touchdown came during the first of three periods with live tackling, a red-zone situational scrimmage.
Then during the second live period, a third-down situational contest, Gillmore skied to snag a Pete Thomas pass on third-and-4. In mid-air, he sustained a wicked sandwich hit from Ivory Herd and Elijah-Blu Smith, but maintained possession to move the chains, a 9-yard gain.
Gillmore, a prolific wide receiver in high school, began his college career one year ago as a tight end. To fill an injury void, he switched to defensive end just before the 2010 opener and recorded a sack in his first game, against CU. Then, just nine days before the 2011 spring game, depth forced him to move again, this time back to tight end. And in those nine days, Head Coach Steve Fairchild saw everything he needed to put him No. 1 on the depth chart over the summer.
The Rams concluded the scrimmage with a 15-play battle that included third- and fourth-team players.
Other highlights from Saturday’s scrimmage:
- True freshman Davon Riddick during the final segment had the carry of the day, a 60-yard romp in which he broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage before accelerating down the right sideline.
- Grayson enjoyed his best day as a CSU quarterback. In addition to the TD to Gillmore, he also hit true freshman Blake Jones on a 12-yard touchdown during the same red-zone segment. Grayson finished 4-of-4 for 25 yards and two TDs.
- M.J. McPeek also threw a touchdown, a 16-yard strike to T.J. Borcky, who dragged his foot in the back corner of the end zone before barreling out of bounds.
- Pete Thomas (5-of-7, 42 yards) threw two incompletions, a Mike Orakpo deflection and a dropped pass.
- Thomas Coffman made a one-handed catch, an M.J. McPeek pass, to convert a third-and-7.
- True freshman Kevin Pierre-Louis had two near interceptions before picking off Conner Smith during the segment with the younger players, a 17-yard return. A few plays earlier, Pierre-Louis got a hand on a Smith pass, but intended receiver Chris Robinson secured the catch and turned it into a 31-yard gain.
- Smith in his first extended practice action, all in that final segment, actually looked impressive. He hit his first four passes, for 52 yards, before the Pierre-Louis pick. He finished 5-of-7 for 59 yards.
- True freshman linebacker Aaron Davis was the scrimmage’s leading tackler, with four.
- Joe Kawulok, another true freshman, forced and recovered a Riddick fumble on the final play of the scrimmage.
- Pete Kontodiakos continued his strong fall, launching a punt with better than 6 seconds of hang-time 55 yards in the air. It then rolled another quarter of the field for a 79-yard punt.
- Early in the practice, during a thud period, WR Charles Lovett made a great block to spring Robinson on what would’ve been a 60-yard touchdown.
- During the next period, with the offense in a backed-up situation near its own goal line, Shaquil Barrett intercepted a pass and returned it for a short touchdown.
Dorms: The Rams will take Sunday off to move out of their dorms and into permanent housing. CSU returns to the main practice facility Monday for a pair of workouts, 7:45 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Cool down: Saturday’s temperatures on the field were near 100 degrees, and the CSU staff took proactive steps to beat the heat. According to chief assistant athletic trainer Jeremy Busch, the Rams were covered with blue, shammy-like ice towels on their heads and every Powerade bottle at practice included added electrolytes. Additionally, a cold bath was on standby in the locker room in case of an emergency.
CSU’s training staff weighs each player before and after every practice, to monitor fluid loss. Players are pushed fluids in their locker room, outside their meeting rooms and everywhere else they go during camp.
That’s good, because the Rams endured a grueling, three-hour practice, capped by agonizing sideline-to-sideline sprints, in order to prepare for their Sept. 3 opener at New Mexico, just three weeks away.
Roster moves: Fairchild announced before practice that FB Kivon Cartwright, WR Byron Steele and DB Ezra Thompson had been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Additionally, OT Justin Becker and WR Tony Drake have rendered themselves academically ineligible. Cartwright, Steele and Thompson are still allowed to practice with the team.
Head Coach Steve Fairchild quotes
General thoughts on the team’s Saturday practice:
“There was a lot of good today. I think when you step away – and we’re obviously going to look at the tape, here – we’re not where we need to be. We’ve got to get into better shape. I thought, defensively, that we lost our composure during the practice at one point. I thought, defensively, we were probably loafing a bit too much. But there was a lot of good. Offensively, you can tell just the whole substitution flow of the game we’ve got to get better at, but that’s to be expected as well. But we were over 200 plays, right at about 3 hours, and that’s what we were looking for. And, for the most part, they were competing there at the end.”
On being comfortable with young tight ends:
“We can all look at Crockett (Gillmore) and say, ‘That’s what an NFL tight end looks like.’ But that’s not what we need right now to beat New Mexico. He’s not ready to do that from an assignment standpoint. But we’ve got time. We have to coach him.”
On Gilmore’s play at tight end:
“He’s got an upside. The guy has never played a down on offense, and I’d be surprised if he’s not one of the best (tight ends) in the league. However, having said that, he’s not in good enough shape. From an assignment standpoint, he’s not ready to roll. You look at us offensively, we need to come on at tight end and we need to come on at receiver.”
On improvement in red zone during practice:
“I thought we did some nice things in the red zone. That’s one of those where it’s gone back and forth over the last 10 practices. I think, as on third down, we can open up our package a little more for our quarterbacks, which is going to help us.”
On emphasis for improvement in the red zone and on third down:
“We haven’t been good on third-down defense since I’ve been here. Other than the first year - we were pretty good on third down offense that first year – and then we’ve struggled the last couple. So, they are points of emphasis, there’s no doubt.”
On best thing that he saw during Saturday’s practice:
“I think, again offensively, you feel good about the quarterback spot. The offensive line is coming on. I thought we saw our backs hit it in there pretty good. There weren’t a whole lot of turnovers. There weren’t a whole lot of penalties. We do need, like I said, to come on a receiver for us to be a real good offense. And, I think we’ve got the ability at tight end, but we’re behind from an assignment standpoint.”
On potential of Crocket Gilmore to develop into a go-to receiver at tight end:
“He can. There’s no substitute for touchdown scorers, guys that can get the ball in the end zone. We’ve had some receivers here that have had big years and just can’t score touchdowns. There’s something about a guy that can get the ball into the end zone. He looks to be like that.”
On importance of officials at scrimmages:
“Yes, and I thought early on that we had a few calls, and that was good. They got our attention.”
On academic ineligibility of Tony Drake and Justin Becker:
“Here’s what I’ll say: I’m very disappointed for them. I like both of them. I think they could have helped us this year. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out. But again, I don’t think that we can lose sight of the fact that we are student-athletes, and we take the ‘student’ part of it very seriously.
On chances that Drake and Becker can return to the program:
“That is to be determined.”
On suspensions of Kivon Cartwright, Bryon Steele and Ezra Thompson:
“It was a violation of team rules. I’m not going to comment on it. Again, I like all three guys. I think they are good kids. They violated team rules and there are some consequences that they will have to suffer.”
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