Football Game Notes: Colorado State vs. Colorado, Sept. 1

Garrett Grayson led the Rams to a 22-17 victory in his first Rocky Mountain Showdown in 2012

Garrett Grayson led the Rams to a 22-17 victory in his first Rocky Mountain Showdown in 2012

Aug 26, 2013

GAME 1
COLORADO STATE RAMS vs. COLORADO BUFFALOES 
Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013  4:04 p.m. (MT)  Sports Authority Field at Mile High (76,125)  
 Denver, Colo.  CBS Sports

FULL NOTES PACKAGE IN PDF | Monday's Weekly Press Conference Transcript
Press Conference Video Clips: Kivon Cartwright | Max Morgan | Jim McElwain 1 | McElwain 2 | McElwain 3 | McElwain 5

THIS WEEK
Jim McElwain begins his second season at the helm of the Colorado State Rams when they take the field against the University of Colorado at 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 1. The game takes place at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, as the 85th renewal of the longstanding rivalry between the two schools.

WHERE TO FIND THE GAME: The Rocky Mountain Showdown will be televised nationally on CBS Sports, with Dave Ryan (play-by-play), Adam Archuletta (analyst), and Evan Washburn (sideline) on the call. CSU fans can listen to the action on the revamped Colorado State Radio Network with new Voice of the Rams Gary Miller alongside Brian Roth (analyst) and Kevin McGlue (sideline).

On the airwaves, fans will now be able to listen to the game across the state on: KJAC-FM 105.5 ESPN Denver, KREL-AM 1580 ESPN Colorado Springs, KSIR-AM 1010 The Farm, KRFD-FM 94.5 The Ranch, and KNZZ-AM Newsradio 1100.

ABOUT THE RAMS: Colorado State enters its 116th season of intercollegiate football and second under Head Coach Jim McElwain. In his first season in Fort Collins, McElwain led the Rams to a 4-8 record, the most wins since 2008. CSU rattled off wins in three of their final five games, averaging 28.8 points. The Rams return 17 starters, including OL Weston Richburg, who was named to preaseason watch lists for the Outland Trophy, Rimington Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award and arguably the best tight end duo in the Mountain West in Crockett Gillmore and Kivon Cartwright.

TOP NOTES

• The Rams have won their season opener three of the last four seasons. Last season, Colorado State took advantage of a Colorado fumble late in the first half to propel themselves to a 22-17 victory. In 2011, the Rams squeaked out a 14-10 road victory vs. New Mexico. Finally, in 2009, the Rams went into Boulder and defeated CU 23-17. It was CSU's first victory in Boulder since 1986.
• Overall the Rams have posted a 59-55-1 (.513) record in season openers, including streaks of nine consecutive wins between 1940-1950 (CSU didn't field a team in 1943-44) and seven in a row from 1994-2000.
• CSU looks to earn back-to-back victories over in-state rival Colorado for the first time since 1999-2000.
• McElwain looks to win his first two season openers, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by a CSU head football coach since 1947-48 when Bob Davis defeated Colorado Mines 20-12 and Colorado College 25-6.
• McElwain hasn't dropped a season opener at the college level since 2004 as an assistant head coach at Michigan State.
• The Rams may be young but they have experience. In 2012, CSU had 19 players make their first career start, which was the fifth-most in NCAA FBS (Hawai'i 29, Air Force 24, Temple 22, TCU 21)
• The Rams return 94 career OL starts, which ranks 12th in the nation according to Phil Steele. (Richburg - 36, Gragert - 24, Sambrailo - 17, Biard - 10, Haynes - 7 ). This ranks as the third most returning starts in the Mountain West behind Utah State with 110 and New Mexico with 107.

ALL EYES ON RAMS-BUFFS
Kickoff for the 85th meeting between CSU-CU is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. It is one of two games being played on that day, with the other being Ohio at No. 9 Louisville. By the time the Rams kickoff at 4:04 p.m., they will be the only football game on television as the NFL has the weekend off prior to their season-opener. 

CSU AND CU TEAM UP TO "TACKLE HUNGER"
Colorado's research universities are teaming up to fight hunger on the same day their football teams square off in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown. "Tackle Hunger" will collect monetary donations from fans attending the annual game Colorado State and Colorado. Money collected will be divided between Feeding America food banks in Larimer and Boulder counties.  During the first quarter fans can donate via text message, typing TACKLE to 501501  to make $10 donations that will be included in monthly phone bills. Results will be announced later in the game. For more information, visit www.rockymountainshowdown.com  and click the "Tackle Hunger" icon.

SUNDAY SHOWDOWN
Sept. 1 will mark the fourth time the Rams and Buffaloes have played on a Sunday. The last time these two teams matched-up on a Sunday was 2009 and the Rams won 23-17. CU holds a 2-1 edge in Sunday contests.

The Rams and Buffaloes have also met four times on a Thursday (1916, `17, `18 and `46), once on a Wednesday (1923) and once on a Monday (1900).

ON SCHOLARSHIP
In 2012, just nine days before the Rocky Mountain Showdown, McElwain presented quarterback M.J. McPeek, running back Mark Woodbury and kicker Jared Roberts with scholarships. Their hard work in fall camp finally paid off.

This year, two more student-athletes were rewarded with scholarships after strong showings in fall camp. Tight End Joe McKay, a redshirt senior from Akron, Colo., and linebacker Ken Hulbert, a product of Highlands Ranch, Colo., Joe McKay, a redshirt senior first received the honor on Aug. 25.

McKay has played in 23 games for the Rams since 2011 and is a major contributer on special teams. In his career, McKay has registered seven tackles, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt.

Hulbert is another contributor on special teams. The junior linebacker has recorded two tackles in eight career games.

"These are two guys who have really earned it. They have worked their tails off and not only do we appreciate what they do, but our team recognizes these were two very deserving guys, as were other guys. It goes to show we do reward those guys who come here and work hard and earn it. There is a strong tradition here of walk-ons playing a strong role in the team's success and earning scholarships. We really value the hard work and commitment those walk-on players show, and recognize their importance to our team," McElwain said.

RETURNING TALENT
The Rams will return 19 starters in 2013, nine offensively, eight defensively and two from the special teams unit. Colorado State brings back 78 percent of its passing yardage, and 85.7 percent of its net rushing.

Quarterbacks Garrett Grayson and Conner Smith return after registering a combined nine starts in 2012. Grayson threw for 946 yards and Smith for 1,022. Running backs Donnell Alexander and Chris Nwoke both return after rushing for 587 and 570, respectively in 2012.

Defensively, the Rams return 100 percent of their interceptions, 92.8 percent of their forced fumbles, 78 percent of their sacks and 77.4 percent of tackles from 2012.

The Rams return the 2012 statistical team leader for every major offensive and defensive category.

NEW PUNTER For the first time in four years, the Rams will have a new punter. Hayden Hunt, a redshirt freshman from Long Beach, Calif., replaces the three-time All-Mountain West choice Pete Kontodiakos.

THE PLAYMAKER Senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett enters 2013 with more tackles in the last two seasons than any returning player in the Mountain West. The 2012 honorable mention All-Mountain  West selection made 166 tackles in the 2011 and '12 seasons Mountain West. The 2012 honorable mention All-Mountain  West selection made 166 tackles in the 2011 and '12 se combined, as has scored three touchdowns in his two seasons as a Ram after transfering from Nebraska-Omaha.

TWO TALENTED TIGHT ENDS
The Rams enter 2013 with a talented and productive pair of ti ght ends in Crockett Gillmore and Kivon Cartwright, giving Colorado State multiple options with offensive sets. In 2012 CSU started two tight ends in 11 of the 12 games, with Cartwright logging 11 starts and Gillmore 10. Gillmore, who was named to the John Mackey Award watch list in July, enters his senior season in 2013 with 64 career receptions for 731 yards (11.4) and 6 touchdowns, while Cartwright begins his junior year with 29 career receptions for 373 yards (12.9) and 3 touchdowns. Together, the pair has caught 93 passes for 1,104 yards (11.9)  and nine touchdowns  as CSU Rams.

FIRST-TIME STARTERS
In Jim McElwain's first year as head coach he mixed a veteran nucleus with a host of young talent that helped lead significant improvement over the second half of the season. In all, the 2012 Rams had 18 players make their first collegiate start, tied for 8th-most  in NCAA FBS. Included in that group were four players who saw significant  game action as true freshmen: LB Kevin Davis, WR/PR Joe Hansley, DB Nick Januska and DB Jasen Oden.

HONOR ROLL
After winning four games in 2012, the most since 2008, expectations in 2013 are high. Fortunately, the Rams have players capable of producing a winning season and five of them earned preseason honors.

Name                                                                                 Award
Crockett  Gillmore                                                              John Mackey Award, CFPA Tight End Trophy Cory James                                                                       CFPA Linebacker Trophy
Chris Nwoke                                                                      CFPA Running  Back Trophy
Weston Richburg                                                        Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award Jared Roberts                                                                    Lou Groza Award, CFPA Placekicker Trophy

BAG POLICY
This season the NFL has a dopted a new policy which restricts types of bags that fans can carry into the stadium. This same policy will be enforced during the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The new policy only allows fans to carry in bags that are 12 inches tall and six inches wide. Additionally,  the bags must be clear. In place of a bag issued by the NFL, fans can use a one gallon plastic storage bag or a small clutch purse that is no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches.

`ONE TOWN, ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM'
During "Ram U," Colorado State's offseasons strength and conditioning program, senior linebacker Shaquil Barrett came up with the 2013-14 team slogan, "One Town, One Team, One Dream." Often referenced on social media with the hashtag #1TTD, it is a slogan the Rams and the community  have embraced.

"`One Town, One Team, One Dream.' So when you see #1TTD, that's their affirmation. I think we are getting to the understanding that each one of us is responsible and as a team we are responsible for this town. We are responsible for this team, and each one of us has to carry that dream. That really hit me that, you know what, we're really heading in the right direction."
                          - Head Coach Jim McElwain

PORTER JOINS STAFF On July 31st Coach McElwain announced the addition of former CSU great and all-pro NFL linebacker Joey Porter as an undergraduate student assistant football coach at his alma mater.

"This is another example of reaching back into our past to help build our future at Colorado State," said McElwain. "It's an opportunity for him to complete his degree while he gains valuable experience with our coaching staff. We are proud to welcome one of the great Rams back to our campus, just as we welcome all of our former players to remain a part of the Rams football family."

Porter, who has 18 credits to complete before earning his degree, was as excited as McElwain.

"It feels great; I am definitely excited about the opportunity,  excited that Coach Mac gave me the opportunity to come back and be a part of the CSU family. It's not like I never was when I left, but it's always good to come back and be here in Fort Collins.

Porter wants to get into coaching one day and CSU is a great place to get that start. The Super Bowl champion linebacker has a great deal of knowledge that he can pass on to current CSU athletes and he is determined to make them, not only better football players, but better young men.

DR. GREG MYERS TO BE HONORED
One of the most decorated student-athletes in Colorado State University history, Greg Myers, will be honored at halftime of the Rams' 2013 home opener, Sept. 14 game vs. Cal Poly. Myers' jersey number 3 and his name will be displayed on the press box, alongside Thurman "Fum" McGraw and Eddie Hanna.

Myers, the 1995 receipient of the Jim Thorpe Award, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2012.

MR. RELIABLE
Senior center Weston Richburg is not only one of the most decorated Rams on the roster, he is also the most experienced. The 6-4, 300-pounder from Bushland, Texas, has started all 36 games of his career entering 2013. A preseason candidate for the Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award for the second year in a row, Richburg is one of just three centers in the nation with 36 or more career starts, joining Utah State's Tyler Larsen (38) and Arkansas' Travis Swanson (38). He is tied for 14th in the nation among all players in career starts entering 2013.

FIVE RAMS ARE CSU GRADUATES
Guard Jordan Gragert, long-snapper Tanner Hedstrom, tight end Joe McKay, running back Chris Nwoke and center Weston Richburg are playing their final season for the Rams in 2013 after having graduated with bachelor's degrees this past spring or summer. Richburg (animal science) graduated after summer classes, while Gragert (sociology), Hedstrom (health & exercise science), McKay (liberal arts) and Nwoke (business administration) received their degrees in May.

NEW RADIO FLAGSHIP FOR RAMS IN 2013
The Colorado State Rams will have a new radio home in 2013 for football and men's and women's basketball, on 105.5 FM ESPN. A new play-by-play voice also joins the team this year, with veteran Denver television  sportscaster Gary Miller behind the microphone, joined by long-time radio team member Brian Roth on color commentary. Roth is in his 15th year as part of the CSU football broadcast team, including  the last three years in the play-by-play  seat. In addition to its 105.5 flagship,  the Rams Radio Network  includes  KREL 1580 AM ESPN in Colorado Springs and Pueblo; KSIR 1100 AM in Fort Morgan;  KRFD 94.5 FM in Sterling  and KNZZ 1100 AM in Grand Junction.

NOTABLE GAME ON THE SCHEDULE
On Sept. 21 the Rams will travel 1,300 miles south to Tuscaloosa, Ala., as McElwain and his Rams take on his former team, Alabama. McElwain was the offensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide from 2008-2011. In 2012, CSU played host to Fresno State, a school where McElwain was the offensive coordinator in 2007.

OTHER SCHEDULE NOTES
• Tulsa will have nine days to prepare for Colorado State.
• For the first time since 1996, the Rams will travel to Honolulu, Hawai'i to take on the Warriors. The Rams escaped Honolulu with a 28-16 victory. 2013 will mark the 12th visit to Hawai'i.
• Colorado State and Wyoming have met every year since 1946 and only twice since have the Rams played back-to-back years in Laramie. In 2013, CSU travels north to Laramie, just like last season. The last time the Rams made consecutive trips to Laramie was in 1963 and `64.
• The Rams look to snap a streak of seven consecutive losses to Air Force, when the Falcons come to Fort Collins on Nov. 30.

MEETING NO. 1
Both preseason AP and USA Today Top 25 polls have the Alabama Crimson Tide ranked as the top team in the country. Alabama open the season with a tough neutral site game vs. Virginia Tech before traveling to College Station, Texas to take on Texas A&M. Should Alabama win both games and keep its No. 1 ranking, it will be the second time the Rams have faced the nation's top-ranked team. The first matchup against No. 1 came in 2004 when the Rams traveled to USC and went up against Matt Leinart, LenDale White and Reggie Bush.

MENTAL CONDITIONING
Colorado State football is among a handful of programs to adopt a mental conditioning program. It is a program that McElwain became familiar with at Alabama and one that he thought would be criticial in bringing success to Fort Collins. Immediately, McElwain hired Dr. Lowell Wightman after meeting during a player academic meeting where the two discovered they shared a belief that shaping and changing a team culture requires the brain and body working together.

During the summer players go through a mental conditioning program and meet with top experts in this field. For the second consecutive year, McElwain invited Trevor Moawad, Vice President of Mindset Pro- grams from Athlete's Performance, to come speak to his team. McElwain and Moawad met at Alabama and have since become friends.

FREE TUITION
On Saturday, Aug. 24, the Colorado State athletic department hosted its first annual RAMbunctious Pep Rally. This event was designed to get incoming freshmen at CSU excited about athletic events as part of Ram Welcome activities. During the event Andrew Schneeweis made a half court shot for a year's worth of tuition, paid for by head coaches Jim McElwain, Larry Eustachy (men's basketball), Tom Hilbert (volleyball), and Ryun Williams (women's basketball). The four had come up with the plan just days before the event.

"We're really excited we could be a part of something like that. Our students are such a big part of what we do, and we appreciate their support of our programs. To have all those new students come out and show their excitement last night was outstanding, and we as coaches wanted to do something to show our appreciation," McElwain said. "Andrew Showed he has what it takes to operate under pressure. We talk to our student-athletes all the time about rising to the occasion and responding in pressure situations, and what Andrew did last night speaks volumes about that very thing. It was incredible to see that shot go in."

YOUTH MOVEMENT
In Colorado State's first depth chart of the 2013 campaign, the Rams have 32 underclassmen (15 frosh. & 17 soph.) on their two-deep.

UNIT                            UNDERCLASSMEN
Offense                        11
Defense                       15
Special Teams                6

 


 

 

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