The CSU football team is no exception. With the climax of their spring season, the annual green and gold game on April 19 at Hughes Stadium, drawing near, the Rams reflect back on what the players consider to be the most productive spring most of them have ever been a part of.
“We just naturally everything execute better. It flows easier and making big plays is easier because we are comfortable in the system,” wide receiver Jordon Vaden said. “We looked a lot better than last spring.”
As always, one of the big focuses for head coach Jim McElwain was competition. But, this year, instead of a battle between individuals for specific positions, Mac was able to focus on the bigger picture.
Quarterback Garrett Grayson has the starting position on lock thanks to his numbers from the 2013 season, so this spring was about finding the pieces to fit around him. Converted safety Jasen Oden emerged as a powerful running back, and offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo helped groom a crop of promising linemates.
His injury sidelined him for spring, but he’s been out there every day and been dubbed “Coach Ty.”
“This spring I’ve had a chance to sit back and watch the younger guys grow, which has been exciting,” Sambrailo said. “A lot of guys are stepping up and really maturing.”
Since Grayson will be dependent on those five guys to keep him protected in the pocket, he has also had a part in forming the brand new offensive line.
Thus far, Grayson is pleased with what he has seen this spring.
“People on the outside didn’t know about the talent that we have coming up,” Grayson said. “After the first couple of practices, they were kind of having a rough time, but we sat down together and they’re fine now, giving me all the time in the world. I really can’t complain.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary have been working on making major improvements. Despite individual talent, the secondary struggled more than any other area of the team last season.
Sophomore safety Kevin Pierre-Louis says those issues are in the past.
“We have been paying more attention to detail, with all the little stuff that happened to us last year,” he says. “It looked big, but we could have just corrected it. So now we are actually taking the time to do that, and that’s helped us improve from last year.”
At the start of the spring season, Mac said he looked forward to conditioning his guys, and having some fun experimenting at new positions. As the season comes to a close, he’s pleased with the position-surgery that he’s performed, but most of all with the overall team improvement.
“I really like what some of the guys have been able to do at their new spots. Davon (Riddick) has found a spot. Jasen (Oden), based on his last scrimmage is going to be valuable and Nolan Peralta — he’s going to help us,” McElwain said. “You know, you are really playing against yourself and your ability to get better everyday, and I think we have.”
Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com.