Colorado State football held Meet the Rams Day on Saturday, a free and open to the public two-hour practice followed by allowing fans onto the field to meet their favorite players.
For the nearly 1,000 fans that came out to Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, the 100+ play practice was a great look into what the Rams’ football team will be made of in 2010.
While the majority of practice time was filled with full-team practice, there were individual position drills and lengthy red zone and two minute drills as well.
And as many players made great efforts and practiced well, the focus was on the quarterback position, where two freshman QBs competed to show each is worthy of that starting spot.
Individual passing drills were short and sweet, stuck in between sessions of full-team drills, but they were still somewhat telling.
Pete Thomas’ big body (6’5” 220 lbs.) gives him a great looking throwing motion. His accuracy was the best of the three quarterbacks during the drills.
Almost every throw from Nico Ranieri was high, and Klay Kubiak’s throws looked labored.
Full Team drills
During full-team drills, Thomas was the quarterback that got the most snaps, while Ranieri and Kubiak were about tied for the second most snaps from center.
Thomas, the true freshman that graduated high school a semester early to play for CSU, showed some flashes of brilliance mixed with some inaccuracy problems.
On one play, Thomas evaded a sack from a defensive end, but he threw far behind his tight end and the ball was dropped. On two separate plays, Thomas overthrew receivers in the flat. But, he also checked down twice to hit short routes across the middle of the field.
Two times during full-team drills Thomas threw the ball deep down field, one resulted in an interception, the other a touchdown. On the touchdown play, which was the most productive and exciting play all afternoon for the offensive side of the ball, the Rams ran play action and Thomas uncorked a bomb that went 40-yards in the air, which hit sophomore Byron Steele in stride and he easily ran it in for the score.
On one of his first snaps, Ranieri rolled out on a naked bootleg only to be sacked. But a few plays later, after rolling out to his left and seeing no receivers open, Ranieri smartly tucked the ball and ran for a solid gain. He also made a great pass to the flat that was perfectly on target.
Kubiak struggled during full-team drills, as one of his first passes was thrown directly to one of the line backers and was intercepted. He also threw a deep ball up to T.J. Borcky which was slightly off target and dropped.
All in all, each of the three QBs played inconsistently, but Thomas looked the best overall.
Red Zone drills
CSU started their red zone drills with some “WildRam,” with junior running back Raymond Carter in the shot gun. Unfortunately, the snap was high and the play went for a minimal gain.
Thomas then got his turn, and on one play moved well in the pocket to his left to buy time and threw an absolute strike to Leonard Mason for a touchdown. But, the play was nullified due to offensive pass interference.
Thomas got another drive though, and on a spread play with four wide receivers and a running back, he hit one of his receivers for five yards. But on the next play, as Thomas tried to squeeze a ball into a receiver, he threw another interception; this one went for 75 yards and a touchdown.
On Ranieri’s first attempt, he missed Steele on a fade to the corner of the end zone as he over threw the ball, although the subsequent field goal was good.
Two minute drills
During two minute drills, Thomas was given the most snaps, with WR/QB T.J. Borcky taking the second most.
Thomas’ drive looked like this; first play a complete pass, second play’s pass was deflected by under receiver when he was trying to throw deeper and the third play was nearly an interception. Thomas did connect on back-to-back passes, hitting his tight end for five yards and throwing to a receiver for 10 yards outside, but the second play was ruled a sack as the QB took too long to release the ball. CSU scored a 40-yard field goal to end the drive.
There was a slight scare when Thomas left the field, as he was rubbing his shoulder and had multiple trainers come over to give it a look.
Borcky’s drive was much different, filled with exclusively short passes, and the Rams moved down the field well. But in the end, they were held to a 45-yard field goal as well, which split the uprights.
Following the two minute drills, the team ran a multitude of sprints before fans were allowed down onto the field to talk to players.
While Thomas was surrounded by fans young and old looking for photographs and autographs, Ranieri was found by himself, looking dejected.
When asked how he thought he practiced, Ranieri said, “Alright.” And when he was asked about if coach Fairchild told them anything about a decision after practice, Ranieri answered, “They don’t tell us that stuff.”
Thomas was much more upbeat though, and even when swamped by fans, was happy to answer a few questions.
When I asked Thomas about his shoulder that looked as if it may be injured, he assured me it was fine. “It’s fine, just part of football.”
When asked about how he thought he practiced earlier in the day, Thomas said, “I felt I was leading pretty good today. I think the offense did well. It was real cool to have the fans out here and have a game-like atmosphere. Hopefully we can do it again next week.”
As a whole, all four quarterbacks played well, but the one that stood head and shoulders above the rest (literally and figuratively) was Pete Thomas.
Today, head coach Steve Fairchild announced that Thomas will be the starter at quarterback, at least to begin the season. Fairchild said on twitter (@CoachFairchild), “Going to start Pete Thomas against CU. I just feel like he gives us the best chance to win.”
Thomas is a physical freak on the football field, and there’s no doubt that he will grow much and develop as the CSU quarterback.
Other great plays in the practice
During the two minute drills, Thomas threw the ball short to junior running back Raymond Carter who broke two tackles and took the ball for 35 yards.
The next play, freshman Chris Nwoke out of ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, took an inside handoff for a big 10 yard gain.
Freshman defensive lineman Nordly Capi busted through the offensive front to tackle freshman runner Tony Drake for a five yard loss that forced the offense to kick a long field goal that was missed.
But Drake also had a couple of nice runs, and he ran with great speed and lightning quick cuts.
Cornerback Marcus Shaw made a quick and decisive stop on a fake fullback dive halfback toss to the outside. It resulted in holding the offense to yet another field goal attempt, which was good.
Overall, the defense looked both strong and fast, and the Rams could actually have a better defense than offense in 2010.
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance journalist. Along with being the CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman is the Fort Collins Beer Bars Examiner, the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com.
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