Aug 13, 2013
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - On Tuesday afternoon the Rams completed a 128-play scrimmage in which Head Coach Jim McElwain put his team through different situations as well as pitting the ones-versus-ones, ones-versus-twos, etc. in a move-the-ball scrimmage.
This was the first opportunity of the fall for Colorado State to get on the field without a coach telling them where to line up, a transition McElwain was excited to see. This transition was smooth, which is becoming a common theme for camp.
"I just can't tell you how much better we have gotten just as an overall organization and program," McElwain said. "That was a crisp practice. The guys really know how to practice now and how to scrimmage."
Prior to the scrimmage, the second-year coach wanted to see the defense get off the field on third down and the unit stepped up and demonstrated their improvement.
"Defense did a really good job getting off the field, especially on the third-down situation," McElwain said.
Defensively, Shaquil Barrett registered seven tackles and was a threat in the backfield bringing down the quarterback twice. True freshman Tyree Simmons caught the attention of the coaching staff recording nine tackles (five solo) and an interception.
Freshmen on the offensive side of the ball also proved their worth on Tuesday as wide receiver Rashard Higgins hauled in three receptions for 65 yards and quarterback Nick Stevens completed 17 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
During a late two-minute situation, Stevens connected with Higgins on a quick hitch route and the freshman wide receiver used his speed to get to the outside before diving into the end zone.
The play of the newcomers stood out to McElwain.
"When you talk about the quarterbacks, we've developed a third one as well that we probably need to get in the mix a bit," McElwain said. "I thought the freshman kid did OK, and it will be interesting to see the film moving forward from there. As well, there were some receivers that stepped up and showed us that they are ready. That's a good thing for us as an offensive football team, and a good thing for us as a football team in general. With that, I was really happy with everything."
McElwain has preached that competition at all positions is key for the Rams moving forward and during the first scrimmage he noticed a problem that he is glad to have.
"I think it created some great problems," McElwain said on players stepping up during Tuesday's scrimmage. "We've got some guys that stepped up in this environment, which is great. As I said from the start, the key to being a really good football team is how you learn from this tonight and come out tomorrow morning to put it into practice."
On the ground, arguably the Rams' deepest position, the team scampered for 123 yards and three touchdowns. Donnell Alexander and Chris Nwoke, who have solidified their spot in the rotation, only rushed a combined 13 times but both backs found the end zone. Bryce Peters, a freshman from Houston, Texas, demonstrated his strength as he ran the ball nine times for 43 yards.
The Rams return to the field Wednesday for their second two-a-days of fall camp with practice at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Fall Camp Notebook:
"We held out Terry (Jackson) with a calf strain, but he should be OK. Obviously Austin Gray didn't go, which we knew. Max Morgan didn't go, which we knew. There again, I think that's a credit to what they did in the offseason where you aren't seeing a lot of those (injuries). You are going to have some nicks and bruises, but as far as anything else, we came out of this really healthy."
(on running backs' ball security)
"We had a mishandled snap which is one of the fumbles that you will see, but that can't happen. Our ball security was pretty good, I think we put the ball on the ground one time as a running back and it could be arguable. We will review the film to see how it was, but just the fact that it came out is unacceptable."
(on offensive line depth)
"A lot of guys took a lot of reps. They will never be accused of coming to Colorado State and being accused of just being steak eaters; if they are here they are going to participate and get a lot of snaps. I thought the defense did some good things from some blitz concepts, that maybe we need to step back from offensively and make sure we are accounting for what we need. Part of that again is generated from the quarterback position."
(on whether today went as expected)
"I was excited to see how far they have come. I was really, really happy with it. We corrected some things that we needed to, and at the same time there are some things we need to work on. When we go against each other, you know the deal, one team has to give and one team has to take, but at the same time, the way that they communicate with each other is great. We've also gotten ourselves a lot better on special teams."
(on true freshmen)
"Their heads are spinning, but that's part of it. They are earning their stripes, and there are some receivers that are going to play some valuable, valuable minutes. Those couple guys that are back better strap it on."
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