After completing their off-season condition program, RamU, 14 formal practices and hours of preparation, the Rams are finally ready to play their annual spring game on Saturday afternoon at Hughes Stadium.
The Green and Gold Spring Game will be the last chance players will have to impress coach Jim McElwain and his coaching staff before the fall semester.
“(It’s) another opportunity for them to go play in the stadium and see what they put on film and as I tell them, ‘be proud of what you put on film,'” McElwain said.
As the battle for the starting quarterback job heats up during the scrimmage, the Rams will be looking at a group of receivers that will feature some new faces on the field in 2013.
CSU has six redshirt freshmen wide receivers on the roster this year, in addition to returning contributors Joe Hansley and Charles Lovett, creating a situation where there is increased competition for playing time.
“I think you have to have a rapport with the guy that’s calling the plays and that’s managing the offense,” wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted said. “You’ve gotta have some type of relationship with him and some type of rhythm and if you have that, it’s great. Really all I care about it putting the best guys on the field.”
Another position battle that will be on display during the spring game is on the defensive line.
The Rams will be dealing with the loss of defensive linemen Alex Tucci, Te’Jay Brown, John Froland and Zach Tiedgen this season and have been looking for a completely reinvented defensive line in 2013.
All 15 defensive linemen on the CSU roster have been given a chance to compete for the three starting spots on the line next season, creating a competition that the Rams say makes them better.
“If you don’t have somebody breathing down your neck — it’s just human nature — you’re gonna get lazy,” defensive line coach Greg Lupfer said. “And there’s great competition at all three different D-line positions so there’s no doubt about it, that makes a big difference.”
Whoever ends up starting on the defensive line next season, they will be faced with the challenge of continuing the success the veteran group of linemen last season enjoyed.
CSU linebackers Aaron Davis, Max Morgan and Shaq Barrett each recorded over 65 tackles last year as the defensive line created lanes up front for each to make big plays.
The starters on the defensive line this year will have the advantage of having worked with the new defensive scheme McElwain and his coaching staff implemented last season, a fact that has kept the Rams positive about their prospects as a defense next year.
“We lost a couple good guys (from) last year but everybody who came back played, got playing time, they know what they’re doing out there,” Barrett said. “We’re familiar with the scheme now so we’ve just gotta come out there and go hard, 100 percent, but we should turn some heads next year as a linebacking corps.”
Barrett and the rest of the Rams will have their first opportunity to start turning some heads tomorrow as the spring game is the first scrimmage that is open to the public.
Assistant Sports Editor Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.