Colorado State’s questionable quarterback shuffle
Two’s company, three’s a crowd.
On a cool, crisp Halloween Saturday in Fort Collins, Colorado State Football (3-5, 1-3 MW) continued its two-headed offense, but with a twist. CSU had both redshirt sophomore Nick Stevens (who went 17-23 for 205 yards and two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions) and redshirt freshman Coleman Key (who went 0-2 on his passing attempts) see the playing field Saturday, as they have multiple times in 2015. But, redshirt junior Craig Leonard also came in as a wildcat quarterback today with two carries for 15 yards. This now opens new questions to be asked like: Are there too many QBs for CSU?
As the old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you have none. Colorado State played three. And the result was a 17-41 assault by the Aztecs of San Diego State.
“We are trying to create something a little different and trying to give guys something to work on,” Rams head coach Mike Bobo said of experimenting and playing Leonard. “He’s a big kid, he runs pretty well and we thought we could get some positive yards. Which we did.”
Maybe experimenting could be the cause of some of the inconsistency at the quarterback position. It’s never been a one-man show, even though Stevens has been the one with the most reps this year. Playing multiple quarterbacks can shake all of their confidence, especially with little experience leading an offense at the college level.
“I thought we played hard, came out fast, we just had too many mistakes on offense,” Nick Stevens said post-game. “We had four turnovers that were critical turnovers, we had a lot of penalties on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to win with four turnovers and a lot of penalties. We just need to come out, be more sound, more consistent and execute a little better.”
This CSU team was run over by the San Diego Sate Aztecs (6-3, 5-0 MW) to the tube of 276 yards. The Aztecs capitalized on the numerous mistakes by this CSU team, both in the four turnovers — which resulted in 10 points — and the seven penalties for 78 yards.
One of the problems lies within Colorado State’s offensive line, which has been mixed up multiple times this year. They allowed their quarterbacks some time, but not enough to truly succeed. Stevens was punished over and over again from hard hits as he partly explained here.
“Pick-six I didn’t really see what happened, because I got hit on that play, but someone said it was a little outside or behind him,” Stevens said. “We can’t make those mistakes if we want to win.”
With two passing quarterbacks — Stevens and Key — there are two different people with two different timings. The offensive line needs to know how long to hold a block so the quarterback has time to throw and timing is an important issue with receivers as well.
With a loss Saturday, reality is setting in that this was not a Cinderella season for the CSU Rams.
“I think that it’s frustrating because we feel like we’re not a 3-5 team,” Stevens continued. “We feel like we play well and we just have had some really close games that have not gone our way. This team is better than what the record shows. Everybody here has heart and wants to win.”
The starting quarterback is not the only one upset with the current standing of the team.
“Its frustrating, man, I feel like we had a good game plan and we just need to come out and execute, and at the end of the day we killed ourselves,” said junior Rashard Higgins after the defeat.
But the CSU season is not over and they play a rival Mountain West opponent next week when they face the University of Wyoming Cowboys (1-8, 1-4 MW). A win would bring the Bronze Boot back to Fort Collins and improve the Rams standings.
“You can’t look at it as the last four games, we have to see it as the next game,”said Mike Bobo on looking forward to the rest of the season. “I know how to coach football and there is no doubt we can get it done here.”
If Bobo wants to get it done, maybe he’ll have to pick one quarterback and stick with him.