One game down, one giant letdown in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The fallout is a change at the quarterback position for the Colorado State Rams.
Mike Bobo’s squad was blown out 44-7 by intrastate rivals, the Colorado Buffaloes, on Friday night under the lights at Mile High Stadium in Denver. In that game, it took the Rams and Bobo’s offense 19:30 to earn a first down, which the head coach said it “seemed like a couple hours,” before they could move the chains.
That offensive execution, or lack thereof, isn’t acceptable to Bobo and he said on Monday the staff was able to break down film and hold everyone accountable, starting with himself.
“We didn’t throw the ball particularly well with either QB,” Bobo explained Monday during his weekly press conference. He also said the coaching staff has to take pressure off the quarterbacks by calling better plays; “I failed to do that,” he said.
Nick Stevens, the redshirt junior who started the contest, struggled mightily during the Showdown. When he was given the hook late in the third quarter against CU, Stevens was 6-20 for 31 yards with two interceptions.
Faton Bauta then stepped in and the offense responded. They found a spark with Bauta and his ability to make plays on the ground with his legs. On one play, the graduate transfer from Georgia was able to take off for 24 yards and move the Rams into scoring position. He emphatically signaled a first down, even though the Rams were down 37-0 at that point, but after the game Bauta explained it was in the heat of the moment that he celebrated.
A few plays later, Bauta completed a touchdown pass to Marcus Wilson for Colorado State’s first and only score of the day.
So, with Bauta starting the game this Saturday – against the University of Texas San Antonio – does it change CSU’s offense?
“We’ve got to figure out what we can do, what Faton can do well to make some routine plays,” Bobo explained. “We’ve got to be able to move the ball, get first downs, put us in a position to win football games…He’s got to hit his targets.”
In the Showdown, Bauta was limited in his playing time and passing attempts, going 6-9 for 32 yards passing and the one touchdown. He also ran four times for 39 yards, giving Colorado State a new dimension on their offense by making plays with his legs.
“What he did the other night, and his toughness,” offensive coordinator Will Friend said of what Bauta can bring to the offense. “He can do a little bit of both [run and pass]. We needed somebody to step up the other night and compete.”
“We’ve got to convert on third downs,” Friend continued. “He definitely came in the other night when it was a point things weren’t going on, very well. He was able to come in and give us a boost.”
Another note: Freshman Collin Hill has been taken out of the QB competition per the depth chart, as the starter on the chart was listed as Bauta or Stevens, but not Hill. So, for now, it looks like it will either be Bauta or Stevens gun-slinging in 2016.
Colorado State hosts UTSA on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. MT. The game takes place at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. It’s the first game in the “Farewell to Hughes” season of 2016, the last year games will be played in the venue.