At 4pm saturday the jerseys in blue will be found in Hughes Stadium in Colorado Springs squared up against the gritty CSU Rams which will continue to sort out the conference standings. The Cougs record all time against the rams is 36-27 with 3 ties in a series that began back in 1922. In Colorado Springs the jerseys in blue have also won 11 of the last 13 matchups. CSUs first year coach (Steve Fairchild) is a former Ram OC as well as QB (was 2nd team all WAC behind ole Jim McMahon back in 1980) who takes over for Sonny Lubick. Of the jerseys in blue coach Fairchild has mentioned "We'll need our best game to be in the thing". When he took the coaching reins coach Fairchild said "We won here before and I'm convinced we can win again"". Currently at the halfway point the rams are 4-4 (yet are 2-2 in MWC play) and already well on their way of turning things around. Keep in mind CSU only averaged 4.8 wins over Sonny Lubicks last 5 seasons. (Helmet photo credit/Adrenalin Design Group)
Coach Fairchild seems to have found a more than capable QB replacement for Caleb Hanie (3 yr starter) in senior Billy Farris. The former JC transfer and walk on slinger from Baton Rouge isn't afraid to take a hit in getting the rock down the field. On the season Farris has 148 completions for over 1,700 yards. His backup is Klay Kubiak (the son of Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak). Farris' options include Rashaun Greer (6.1/200 JR), Dion Morton (5.10/160) and Kory Sperry (6.6/250 SR). Greer has 40 receptions on the year for 715 yards and 1 TD. Morton is a speedy junior from Riverside CA that tallied up over 400 yards receiving with 3 TDs this season. Sperry is much like Pitta, among the best tight ends in the nation. Kory has excellent hands, amazing speed for a big man, and is always a dangerous threat. Last week against San Diego State he racked up 5 rec 61 yards with 3 TDs. Over his career Sperry has 133 catches for 1642 yards and 19 TDs.
On the ground the rams return an abundance of talent and experience. Gartrell Johnson (6.0/227 SR) has the ability to hurt teams. The explosive senior has rushed for over 2,000 yards with 18 TDs so far as a ram. His backup is a former starter Kyle Bell (6.3/230 SR) who as a sophomore back in 2005 rushed for nearly 1300 yards (sat out last year with a torn ACL). John Mosure is a sophomore who will also receive some carries and is the rams most versatile back.
Across the offensive trenches the rams have four juniors and 1 senior all of which are returning starters. The line's experience should help Farris finding time distributing the ball among his weapons (through the ground or the air). Defensive Coordinator Larry Kerr inherits some dangerous hitters in Tommie Hill (6.6/245 DE/SR), Jeff Horinek (6.3/235 MLB/SR) and sophomore WLB Ricky Brewer (6.2/210). Hill had 5.5 sacks last year while Horinek is the soul of the defense and registered 163 tackles the past two seasons.
In the secondary the rams have some difference makers at safety in Klint Kubiak (6.0/200 JR) and Mike Pagnotta (6.0/200 SR). Unfortunately, Pagnotta is scheduled to have surgery soon so starting in his slot could be Jake Galusha (5.10/200 SR) or Josh Gabler (6.0/205 JR). CSU at CB will slot Nick Oppenneer (5.10/175 JR) and Gerard Thomas (5.9/165 FR). Saturday should be a rather intriguing matchup and provide plenty of points on the board.