Garrett Grayson

Colorado State tabs Nick Stevens as starting QB in 2015

Leave a comment

Kentucky was not the only college football program to name a starting quarterback on Monday. Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo has named redshirt sophomore Nick Stevens the number one option for the 2015 season in Fort Collins.

“We met (Sunday) as a staff and watched the film and watched it with the players and met with the kids this morning, the two guys, and told them that Nick was going to be No. 1 and [redshirt freshman Coleman Key] No. 2,” Bobo said in a released statement.

 

Stevens appeared in five games last year for the Rams, backing up Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year Garrett Grayson. In those five games Stevens attempted just 25 pass attempts, but he completed 15 of them for 136 yards and a touchdown. In spring and fall camp to date, Stevens proved to be the more consistent of the two passing options for the new head coach at Colorado State (Jim McElwain was hired by Florida in last season’s coaching carousel).

“The main thing is consistency,” Bobo said. “You need a guy who is going to be consistent every play and get us into the right play and be able to go to the right targets, and I thought over the 26 practices – 15 (in the spring) and 11 (so far in fall camp) – Nick was the most consistent guy.”

Colorado State’s new quarterback will rely heavily on his predecessor’s number one receiver, Rashard Higgins. Higgins is back after recording 1,750 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. Stevens will make his Rams debut as a starter on September 5 when Colorado State hosts Savannah State, followed by a home game against the Big Ten’s Minnesota the following week leading into the annual rivalry game with the Pac-12’s Colorado.

Marcus Mariota still has a spot in the Senior Bowl if he wants it

5 Comments

The Senior Bowl is still holding a spot open for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner has yet to accept an invitation to the top college all-star game, and it appears the game will hold a spot open for him if he arrives late. Practices are underway for Saturday’s game, the last chance players have to play on the field before NFL coaches and scouts.

Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said Monday it is the Senior Bowl’s belief Mariota has chosen not to participate in this week’s all-star game. Savage joked the deadline for Mariota to show up to play in the game will be 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, just in time for kickoff to this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Should Mariota arrive to play in the game, he would be the fourth quarterback on the roster for the North team, joining Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, East Carolina’s Shane Carden and Baylor’s Bryce Petty. Alabama’s Blake Sims, Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson and Auburn’s Nick Marshall are the quarterbacks on the South roster. Marshall was a late addition to the Senior Bowl line-up as a result of Mariota’s delayed or lack of response.

Mariota is leaving school early to enter the NFL Draft, but rule changes for the Senior Bowl instituted a couple of years ago allow for players like Mariota to be invited to participate in the game.

UPDATE (12:47 p.m.): NFL.com reports Mariota has turned down his invite to the Senior Bowl.

Report: Houston QB considers transfer to Texas, Florida

5 Comments

After being benched during his sophomore season with the Houston Cougars, quarterback John O’Korn decided to transfer after the season.

This could develop into one of those rare cases where a player is benched at a smaller school yet transfers to a higher profile program.

O’Korn entered the 2014 campaign as one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the country.

As a true freshman, O’Korn completed 58.1 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

The native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, regressed during his second season. O’Korn threw only six touchdowns compared to eight interceptions this past fall.

Despite the poor season, O’Korn will be hot commodity among teams searching for a pro style quarterback. Greg Ward Jr. was a better option for the Cougars over the second half of the season due to his ability to run the football, and he will remain so in Tom Herman‘s spread offense. O’Korn, on the other hand, is a pure pocket passer. Thus, it makes sense he’s considering Florida and Texas.

Both programs run systems that best suit O’Korn’s skills. Florida is a particularly interesting option due to it being the quarterback’s home state, and new head coach Jim McElwain recently worked wonders with quarterback Garrett Grayson at Colorado State.

If both schools are interested in O’Korn, it must be due to an assumption that his 2014 performance was merely an aberration and still see his potential.

Houston has yet to grant O’Korn his release, but the school previously granted the quarterback permission to contact other schools about possibly transferring, per SI.com’s Thayer Evans.

Oregon State adds Colorado State, Utah State offensive coordinators to Gary Andersen’s staff

5 Comments

Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen added some major coaching talent to his staff on Sunday.

The Beavers announced the hiring of Colorado State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin and Utah State offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven; Baldwin will serve as offensive coordinator, while McGiven will coach the quarterbacks.

“Dave and Kevin bring experience and continuity to our staff and offense,” Andersen said in a statement. “I know what to expect from these two as coaches and what to expect from our offense. They absolutely fit our program and Oregon State University, and this is another great step for our future.”

Both worked previously under Andersen during his time as the head coach at Utah State. Baldwin was the offensive coordinator from 2009-11, leaving to work under Jim McElwain at Colorado State a year before Andersen took the Wisconsin job. McGiven served as quarterbacks coach on the 2009 staff – working under both Andersen and Baldwin, just as he will in Corvallis – before leaving for coordinator jobs at Memphis and Montana State. He returned to Utah State as offensive coordinator in 2013, replacing Matt Wells, who ascended to head coach after Andersen left for Madison.

Got all that?

Now that we’ve played Six Degrees of Gary Andersen, here’s the type of coaches the Beaver faithful are getting. Baldwin led a Colorado State offense that ranked fourth in yards per play and averaged nearly 34 points per game in 2014. Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency this season, hitting 64 percent of his passes for 9.5 yards per attempt with 32 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Speaking of quarterbacks, McGiven was recently named FootballScoop‘s Quarterbacks Coach of the Year after playing four quarterbacks this year and still managing to post a 10-4 record.

With the additions of Baldwin and McGiven, Oregon State now lacks only a running backs coach. Andersen has announced his staff assignments as follows: Baldwin, offensive coordinator; Kalani Sitake, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator; McGiven, quarterbacks coach; Brent Brennan, wide receivers coach; T.J. Woods, offensive line coach; Chad Kauha’aha’a, defensive line coach; Ilaisa Tuiaki, linebackers coach; and Derrick Odum, defensive backs.

No. 22 Utah runs over Colorado State to win Las Vegas Bowl

4 Comments

Colorado State played Saturday’s Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl with head coach Jim McElwain watching from a proverbial plush leather recliner from Gainesville, Fla., and it showed. No. 22 Utah did everything it wanted on offense while stifling Colorado State’s potent passing attack for a 45-10 blowout victory.

Utah scored a Las Vegas Bowl-record 21 first-quarter points – thanks to 202 yards of total offense on 15 plays – to grab a 24-10 halftime lead and it the revved the engines (powered by Royal Purple, of course) from there, scoring three unanswered touchdowns to create the 45-10 final with 12:28 to spare.

The 35-point margin is the second-largest in the game’s 23-year history, trailing only Oregon State’s 55-14 smashing of New Mexico in 2003.

The combination of Travis Wilson and Davontae Booker proved too much for the Colorado State defense to handle. Wilson completed 17-of-26 passes for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception and eviscerated the Rams’ rush defense – particularly in the red zone – to the tune of 91 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. Booker added 26 carries for 162 yards and a 60-yard touchdown, which came one snap after Colorado State had pulled within 14-7 midway through the first quarter and ended any semblance of momentum the Rams would enjoy on the afternoon.

Garrett Grayson completed 20-of-34 passes for 227 yards and an interception (he also caught Colorado State’s only touchdown, a 39-yard throwback from receiver Charles Lovett), and All-American wideout Rashard Higgins snagged seven passes for 109 yards, but Colorado State lost this game up front. The Rams were out-rushed 359-20.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, Utah’s first snap came from the Colorado State 47-yard line. Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen dialed up an end around-turned-reverse-turned-throwback pass from Wilson to Kaelin Clay for a 36-yard completion, a Vegas-inspired gamble that got the Utes off to a hot start. Overall, Utah racked up 548 yards of offense on 77 plays (7.11 yards per play) with 29 first downs and nine third-down conversions in 14 tries.

Colorado State closes its season at 10-3 – its first 10-win season since 2002 and, much like that 2002 season, the Rams close the year by dropping their final two games – and will turn its full attention toward finding McElwain’s full-time successor.

Utah, meanwhile, wraps up its 2014 season at 9-4, its best showing since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. The Utes will close the season ranked inside the top 25 for the first time since 2010, when they garnered a No. 23 ranking in the coaches’ poll.