Football Game Notes: Colorado State vs. Colorado, Sept. 1, 2012

Soph. QB Garrett Grayson starts his first season opener Saturday.

Soph. QB Garrett Grayson starts his first season opener Saturday.

Aug. 27, 2012

GAME 1
COLORADO STATE RAMS vs. COLORADO BUFFALOES
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012 • 2 p.m. • Sports Authority Field at Mile High (76,152) • Denver, Colo. • TV: FX

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THIS WEEK:  The Colorado State Rams lift the curtain on the "Bold New Era" in CSU athletics when they take the field against the University of Colorado at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, in the Cinch Jeans Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver. The game takes place at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, as the 84th renewal of the longstanding rivalry between the two schools.

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ON THE AIR: The game will be televised nationwide on FX, with Craig Bolerjack (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analyst) and Petros Papadakis (analyst) calling the action. CSU fans can find the radio broadcast on the Colorado State network originating from AM 560 KLZ in Denver, with Brian Roth (play-by-play), Kevin McGlue (analyst) and Marty Cesario (sidelines) on the call. The radio broadcast is streamed online via the official website of the Rams, www.CSURams.com. For information on this subscription-based service, please visit the website and set up your account today.

ABOUT THE RAMS: CSU enters is 115th season of intercollegiate football, and first under new head coach Jim McElwain. The former Alabama offensive coordinator (2008-11) takes over a Rams program that finished last season 3-9. CSU returns 16 starters, including four preseason All-Mountain West projections: RB Chris Nwoke, C Weston Richburg, LB Shaquil Barrett and P Pete Kontodiakos. Nwoke became the starting running back late in the 2011 season and rolled up 1,130 rushing yards on 200 carries for an impressive 5.7 yards per carry. He rushed for nine touchdowns and added 23 receptions for 143 yards (6.2). Richburg has landed on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, Rimington Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi Award.

THIS WEEK'S TOP NOTES
• The Rams have won their season opener two of the last three seasons. Last year CSU squeaked out a 14-10 road victory at New Mexico. The next most recent season-opening victory came in 2009 when the Rams charged into Boulder and defeated in-state rival Colorado 23-17. It was CSU's first victory in Boulder since 1986.
• Overall the Rams have posted a 58-55-1 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.
• McElwain, the 20th head coach in Colorado State football annals, will make his head coaching debut Saturday. The last CSU coach to win his debut with the Rams was Jerry Wampfler, who defeated New Mexico State, 28-9 in Las Cruces, on Sept. 12, 1970.
• The only other coaches to win their Colorado State/Colorado A&M debut games were C.J. Griffith in 1901 (vs. Denver) and Julius Wagner in 1942 (at Wyoming).
• McElwain hasn't dropped a season opener at the college level since 2004 as an assistant head coach at Michigan State.
• McElwain will not only be seeking his first career coaching victory on Saturday vs. Colorado; he will attempt to become the first head coach in school history to defeat the Buffaloes in his first year as the head coach at CSU.

CSU's first-year coaches vs. Colorado
W.J. Forbes (1899) L, 0-63
George E. Toomey (1900) L, 0-29
Matt Rothwell (1903) L, 0-5
John H. McIntosh (1904) L, 0-46
Claude J. Rothgeb (1906) T, 0-0
George M. Cassidy (1910) L, 0-44
Harry W. Hughes (1911) L, 0-31
Julius "Hans" Wagner (1942) L, 7-34
Bob Davis (1947) L, 7-14
Don "Tuffy" Mullison (1956) L, 7-47
Earle Bruce (1989) L, 20-45
Steve Fairchild (2008) L, 17-38
Jim McElwain (2012) Sept. 1

McELWAIN AT MILE HIGH: Jim McElwain has previous coaching experience at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. As quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 15, 2006, McElwain coached in front of 76,691 fans against the Denver Broncos in the stadium known from 2001-11 as Invesco Field at Mile High. The Broncos won the game 13-3.

CSU has 16 defensive linemen on its roster with an average weight of 264.6 pounds. The Rams have three defensive linemen weighing in over 300 pounds: Calvin Tonga (330), Alex Tucci (300) and Shaq Walker (320). This makes them one of three schools in the Mountain West with three defensive linemen weighing more than 300 pounds, joining Wyoming and Hawai'i.

THE MATCHUP

SERIES VS. THE BUFFALOES:
All-time, Overall: 20-61-2  |  In Denver: 4-7  |  In Fort Collins: 7-21-1  |  In Boulder: 9-33-1
First meeting: Feb. 11, 1893; CSU lost, 70-6
Last meeting: Sept. 17, 2011; CSU lost, 28-14
Last meeting in Denver: Sept. 17, 2011; CSU lost, 28-14
Series streaks: CU has won 15 of the last 20 games

COACHES CAPSULES:
CSU--Jim McElwain: 0-0, first season as head coach
CU--Jon Embree: 3-10, second season as head coach
Head to Head: (first meeting)
Against Opponent: McElwain's first meeting vs. CU; Embree 1-0 vs. CSU

• Jon Embree was named the 24th full-time head football coach (and the 26th overall including two interim) in University of Colorado history on Dec. 6, 2010, returning home to the state where he starred as a player in both high school and college, and where he got his start in coaching.
• In 2011, Embree led the Buffaloes into their first season in the Pac-12. Although CU went 3-10 they played stronger down the stretch earning, victories against Arizona and Utah.
• Before coaching in the NFL, Embree spent 10 seasons (1993-2002) as an assistant on the Colorado staff under three different head coaches: Bill McCartney (1993-94), Rick Neuheisel (1995-98) and Gary Barnett (1999-2002).

Notable Connections
Junior fullback Jake Levin played with CU's tight end Scott Fernandez at Legacy High School...Immanuel Mitchell, Greg Henderson and Chidera Uzo-Diribe, from the Corona,Calif., area, meet again...CSU and CU both have former members of Saddleback College on their teams; Dominique Vinson, who will line up at WR for the Rams and Eric Richter, an offensive lineman...CSU place kicker Jared Roberts and Buffs linebacker Brady Daigh are both products of Mullen...The Rocky Mountain Showdown has two players from the D.C. area; Rams Danny Nwosu and Buffaloes Sherrard Harrington.

Notable performances against Colorado
• CB/PR Momo Thomas had a big punt return in addition to an interception in the 2010 Showdown.
• Crockett Gillmore recorded 5 catches for 84 yards and a TD against CU in 2011.
• Charles Lovett threw his only collegiate TD pass in 2011 against CU, a 23-yard strike to Gillmore. Lovett also hauled in 2 passes for 14 yards.
• Kontodiakos punted 7 times in the 2011 RMS, including a 58-yard bomb.
• On the defensive side of the ball, Shaquil Barrett recorded 7 tackles.

2012 PRESEASON NOTEBOOK

Jim McElwain:
• Newly appointed Athletic Director Jack Graham hired Jim McElwain on Dec. 13, 2011.
• McElwain, who opens up the Bold New Era against in-state rival Colorado, hasn't dropped a season-opener at the college level since 2004 as an assistant head coach at Michigan State.
• McElwain knows the territory of being bowl eligible. He has been to a bowl games in nine of the past 11 years, including two national championships with Alabama (2009, 2011.
• Compiled a 47-6 record at Alabama.

FBS champ vs. FCS champ:
• McElwain, who helped lead Alabama to a 2011 BCS National Championships, will coach his first game at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium against the defending FCS champion North Dakota State on Sept. 8.
• This will be the first time the Rams and Bison have met. NDSU is ranked No. 1 in the preseason FCS poll.

Notable game on the schedule:
• All coaches stress the equal importance of each game, but another notable game on the 2012 schedule will come Oct. 6 when the Rams host Fresno State. McElwain was the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator in 2007.

Returning a talented nucleus:
• Colorado State returns 16 starters and 39 lettermen from its 2011 squad.
• Also returning are two players who earned Scholar-Athlete awards from the Mountain West for their work in the classroom during the 2011-12 academic year. Defensive lineman John Froland and tight end Blake Jones received the award that is the highest academic honor bestowed by the conference.
• To be eligible for selection, student-athletes must have completed at least two academic terms at the member institution, while maintaining a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or better, and have participated in varsity competition in an NCAA-sponsored sport.

2012 Preseason honor roll:
• Over the summer RB Chris Nwoke, C Weston Richburg, TE Crockett Gillmore and P Pete Kontodiakos were named to preseason watch lists for various awards.
• Richburg leads the Rams with three nominations: Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy, and Rotary Lombardi Award.
• Gillmore was named to the John Mackey Award watch list.
• Kontodiakos is listed among the players to watch for the Ray Guy Award.
• Chris Nwoke, Kontodiakos and Gillmore also earned spots on 2012 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) offensive awards watch lists.
• Nwoke is the only MW running back named to the 2012 CFPA Running Back Trophy watch list.
• Gillmore is among the top-42 tight ends on the CFPA Tight End Trophy watch list.
• Kontodiakos was named to the 2012 CFPA Punter Award watch list.
• Nwoke, Richburg, LB Shaquil Barrett, and Kontodiakos were named to the preseason all-Mountain West team.
• In late May, 11 Rams received Phil Steele preseason honors. Nwoke, Richburg, Barrett, Kontodiakos and defensive lineman John Froland earned first-team preseason all-MW accolades, the national college football analyst announced. Linebacker James Skelton and offensive lineman Jordan Gragert received second-team honors and Momo Thomas was the lone Ram on the third-team all-conference squad. Also garnering attention from Phil Steele was offensive lineman Joe Caprioglio and kick returner Lee Clubb.

RB Chris Nwoke:
• A product of Highlands Ranch, Colo., Chris Nwoke is coming off an 1,130-yard season in which he became CSU's first 1,000-yard rusher since Gartrell Johnson III in 2008 (1,476).
• Nwoke ran for 232 yards against San Diego State and 269 vs. Air Force, becoming the first player in Rams' history with multiple 200-yard rushing efforts in the same season.
• One of two running backs to record multiple games of at least 232 rushing yards, joining Oregon's LaMichael James.
• Was the only Ram to record a catch in all 12 games last season. Nwoke's longest reception streak on the team is at 13, starting Nov. 20, 2010, at Wyoming.
• He became the first Ram to earn multiple MW Player of the Week honors in the same season since QB Bradlee Van Pelt in 2003.
• Earned the Fum McGraw team MVP and second-team all-MW honors (MW coaches and media, and Phil Steele).
• Nwoke's 269 yards set a MW record for most rushing yards by a non-senior, previously held by New Mexico's DonTrelle Moore.
• It was also the most rushing yards by any player in a conference game, eclipsing the record help by Air Force's Chad Hall.
• Nwoke's 269-yard effort represented the third-best rushing total ever by a CSU player, topped only by Tony Alford's 310 yards at Utah (Oct. 28,1989) and Johnson's 285 in the New Mexico Bowl vs. Fresno State (Dec. 20, 2008).
• His 269 yards were the most by any player in 227 all-time games at Hughes Stadium, which opened in 1968.

2012 PRESEASON NOTEBOOK

TE Crockett Gillmore:
• Crockett Gillmore was moved from defensive end to tight end nine days before the 2011 spring game.
• Recorded at least three catches in 11 of 12 games in 2011.
• Finished 2011 as CSU's leader in receptions (45), receiving yards (468) and TDs (4), and was the first CSU tight end to lead the Rams in receiving since All-American Keli McGregor in 1984.
• Was named to the 2011 John Mackey Award mid-season watch list.
• Earned second-team all-MW honors (MW coaches & media and Phil Steele) in 2011.

OL Weston Richburg:
• At the start of the 2011 season Richburg made it his goal to help a CSU running back rush for at least 1,000 yards. He accomplished that goal and many others.
• Richburg helped Nwoke rush for 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns while earning second-team all-MW honors himself.
• Started all 12 games in 2011 and 24 in-a-row, which leads CSU.
• He also found his name on the 2011 Rimington Award watch list, one of four sophomores on the list.
• Broke his right snapping hand against San Diego State last year but played the next two weeks at tackle before returning to center and snapping with his left hand.

LB Shaquil Barrett:
• Shaquil Barrett joined the Rams just before the 2011 season and was immediately eligible because his previous school, Nebraska-Omaha, disbanded its football program.
• In his first season in Ft. Collins, Barrett played in all 12 games with 11 starts at middle linebacker.
• He led the team with 99 tackles and was the first Ram to score two defensive touchdowns in one season since Luke Adkins in 2004.

P Pete Kontodiakos:
• Averaged a career-best 38.7 net yards per punt in 2011 and also recorded a 43.6 gross average to rank in the top 20 in the nation.
• He also blasted 20 of his 57 punts for 50 or more yards, while pinning opponents inside their own 20 on 13 occasions.
• Kontodiakos became only the fourth punter in CSU history to earn back-to-back all-MW honors.

Sophomore Gunslinger:
• The Rams will have a true sophomore at quarterback to begin the 2012 season in Garrett Grayson. In 2011, Pete Thomas was CSU's first returning starter at quarterback since 2007 but Thomas went down with a knee injury and ultimately transferred from the program.
• Grayson, who stepped in against San Diego State when Thomas hurt his knee, went on to start the final three games for CSU. In that short time he accumulated 542 passing yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another 193 yards and one score.
• Grayson, who was ranked the No. 22 all-purpose quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, offers mobility under center the Rams have not had since Grant Stucker in 2009.  

Greg Myers into the Hall:
• Former Jim Thorpe Award winner Greg Myers, a two-time All-American at Colorado State, was selected for enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame in late May. He became the third individual in the history of Colorado State's football program to earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, joining consensus All-American Thurman "Fum" McGraw and former head coach Earle Bruce.
• In Fort Collins Myers led the Rams to a pair of league championships (1994-95) and consecutive Holiday Bowl berths. During Myers' junior season, CSU appeared in the national rankings for 13 weeks, including the highest ranking in program history, No. 10 over the last five polls of the regular season prior to a loss to Michigan. The Rams finished No. 14 in the final 1994 rankings.
• Rams head coach Jim McElwain invited Myers to speak to the team on the first day of fall camp on Aug. 4, 2012. McElwain encouraged Myers to bring his Thorpe Award back to campus and gave it a permanent home in the football offices so those in the program could continue to recognize and draw inspiration from Myers' special accomplishment achieved as a Ram.

2012 SEASON NOTES

New Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain has said often since his hire that he intends to "reach back into our history to help our future." Specifically, he has invited former players and coaches back to campus to be close to the program, and impart some of their wisdom on his current team. In addition to former All-American and Thorpe Award winner Greg Myers and his former head coach Sonny Lubick, speaking to the team, McElwain was proud to announce in August the hire of former CSU standout defensive lineman Greg Pollard in the Rams' student-athlete academic services department.

The Rams open the 2012 season as their first under the leadership of director of athletics John C. "Jack" Graham, who was appointed to his position on Dec. 1, 2011. From the moment he was hired Graham has boldly placed Colorado State's program on an ambitious path towards national prominence with his visionary leadership. A successful business leader and former Rams quarterback, Graham has integrated the department under the motto, "Dream big, work hard and settle for nothing less than excellence." Graham, who played quarterback for the Rams from 1973-74, took on the duties of athletic director and quickly went to work. His first major initiative was to conduct a thorough evaluation of all athletic programs and to engage with donors and supporters about their goals for CSU athletics. Graham has been bold in his pursuit of a plan to build an on-campus stadium at CSU, the feasibility of which is being considered at this time by Colorado State University President Tony Frank.

JACK GRAHAM AT A GLANCE
• Education: Bachelor's degree, U.S. history; Colorado State, `75
Personal
• Played quarterback for CSU from 1973-74
• Drafted by the Miami Dolphins
• Successful 30-year career in the international insur¬ance and reinsurance markets
• Founded iCAT Managers, a leader in catastrophic risk insurance products
• Advisory board member of the National Center of Atmospheric Research
• Married to wife, Ginger Graham

Graham's three objectives as AD
*Maintain athletic department integrity
*Uphold academic excellence
*Win

Making his debut: Jim McElwain will coach his inaugural game with the Rams, becoming one of 28 head coaches to debut for a program across the nation in 2012. Additionally, he is one of four to do so in the Mountain West (Tim DeRuyter - Fresno State, Norm Chow - Hawaii, Bob Davie - New Mexico).

Top Tier: Senior Pete Kontodiakos enters the 2012 season with the 12th highest career punting average in the nation among active players (min. 15 games played, 3.6 punts per game). His average of 42.79 yards puts him first in the conference in the same category and ranks him fourth all-time at CSU.

Player   Average Years
Jimmie Kaylor  44.0  2004-07
Mike Deutsch  43.3  1974-77
Deone Horinek  43.2  1998-99
Pete Kontodiakos 42.79  2009-Present

The Florida native has also become a smarter punter each year he has been with the program. His net average has increased every year, while also decreasing the number of touchbacks that have resulted from his punts.

Year  Net Average
2011  38.7
2010  37.6
2009  32.3

Tackling tandem: Shaquil Barrett and James Skelton, two of the Rams starting linebackers, were No. 1 and No. 2 respectively on the team last year in tackles. Skelton (8.3 tpg) and Barrett (8.2 tpg) will enter 2012 as the conference's top returning tacklers and rank 34th and 35 nationally in the same department.

In-state rivalry: With the two campuses separated by only 54 miles, the front range of Colorado is the backyard for both CSU and CU. Because of this, many high school seniors in the region elect either of the universities as their choice, and the football rosters reflect that. When the two teams take the field, there will be a combined 65 players (37 from CSU, 28 from CU) on the sideline from the state of Colorado.

The Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Ram Athletics invite you to the 31st annual Ag Day, 1:30-4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22, in the south parking lot of Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. Ag Day precedes the Rams vs. Utah State Aggies football game, with kickoff at 5 p.m.
• Ag Day is a great game-day tradition of Colorado-grown food, football, and fun! Each fall, the barbecue draws hundreds of CSU alumni and friends to enjoy our state's tasty bounty. We'll celebrate Colorado's rich agricultural heritage with food from the state's leading commodity groups, then we'll cheer on the Rams.
• Ag Day Supports Agricultural Scholarships
• Event proceeds fund scholarships for CSU agricultural students. During 2012-2013 alone, 20 CSU students will earn Ag Day scholarships! So bring your friends and family, pull up a straw bale under our famed Aggie "A," and savor a feast of Colorado beef, pork, lamb, potatoes, beans, wheat and dairy products, green salad, watermelon, and soft drinks. Beer will be available for those with ID. 
• You may also give directly to the Ag Day scholarship fund by visiting our
• secure online giving page.
• Get Tickets - 4 Ways to Buy!
• Ag Day meal and football tickets are available online, by mail, in person from the Ag Day ticket office, and on event day. Visit the Ag Day website to buy tickets online or to print a mail-in ticket order form. Buy early; barbecue attendance is limited!
• We hope to see you Sept. 22!  GO RAMS!!


 

 

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