Baked beans littered with hot dog weenies or sirloin steak? The choice is an easy one, which is why the Colorado State defense wore huge smiles after Saturday’s 45-40 spring game victory.
The green team offense controlled the game for the first half, leading 21-16 with Garrett Grayson at the helm. But, they could not hold onto the lead for long. Grayson threw a pair of interceptions, the first caught by Trent Matthews and the second Tyree Simmons, bringing the game to a tie at 29.
From there, backup quarterbacks Nick Stevens and Craig Leonard traded snaps, both of them intermixing strides and stumbles. Even though head coach Jim McElwain despises depth charts, Stevens’ performance this spring has made him the probable guess for second stringer.
But, it was Leonard with the longest completion of the game (35 yards), racking up 79 passing yards on just six completions. The battle to back-up Grayson will likely continue into summer two-a-days.
“Craig always adds another asset to the table, he’s really smart and athletic,” receiver Jordon Vaden said. “He brings his own dynamics to the team and I think we looked good, but we kind of let the gas off at the end.”
Despite exemplary performances from the offense, the gold team defense stole the show with five sacks, five pass break-ups, three interceptions and a forced fumble. A late-game push in the final 10 seconds led the defense to win the game by five points.
Kevin Davis led the team with eight total tackles (five solo). Coming off of a knee surgery that forced him to sit last season out, he relished being able to play in the game.
“I feel real good and comfortable making cuts, so I’m excited with what this year can bring,” he said. “Our defense came out with a lot of fire, making plays, but we need to work on being perfect. Working out the details and the rest will take care of itself.”
Strong performances were made on both sides of the ball, allowing McElwain to walk away almost happy. Running back Jasen Oden scored the only touchdown of the day, finishing with 84 yards off 16 carries.
Four receivers — Charles Lovett, Steven Walker, Jordan White and Robert Ruiz — caught for 50 yards or more, accounting for over half of the 397 passing yards for the offense.
Still, McElwain would not be truly satisfied even if not a single mistake was made.
“That was a good culmination to a really good spring, and I think we got a lot done as a team,” he said. “I think we gained a lot of valuable experience, and yet — I am never really satisfied with anything, so, I just want to get better.”Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @c_rasta5.