Colorado State will play the remainder of the season without freshman quarterback Collin Hill, the team’s leading passer. Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo announced on Monday Hill suffered a torn ACL that will sideline for the rest of the season.
Hill passed for 1,096 yards and eight touchdowns with just two interceptions in five games this season. As Bobo announced, the Rams will turn the offense over to junior Nick Stevens, who has appeared in three games and passed for 77 yards with two interceptions this season. Stevens was Colorado State’s leading passer in 2015 with 2,679 yards and 21 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
Colorado State enters this week with a 3-3 record after knocking off Utah State this past weekend, 31-24. The Rams hit the road this week to take on Boise State and still have road games at Air Force and San Diego State remaining as the Rams look to scratch together three more wins in order to become bowl eligible.
Odds are pretty good Colorado State knows Nick Stevens is going to be the starting quarterback in Fort Collins for the next couple of years. With that being the case, the chances backup quarterback Coleman Key would be expected to get to play may be few and far between, barring injury of course. Key will pursue other opportunities in 2016, as he has been granted a full release from his scholarship by Colorado State, the school announced on Monday.
“We appreciate Coleman’s time here and his contribution to this team,” said head coach Mike Bobo. “He has expressed his desire to pursue other opportunities and we wish him all the best in that pursuit. He will be with us through the bowl game and be part of this team before pursuing those options next semester.”
Key has appeared in six games this season as a backup option to Stevens. In his limited playing time, Key ahs completed 47.7 percent of his pass attempts for 251 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions. A redshirt freshman, Key will have two more years of eligibility after sitting out the 2016 season at another FBS program due to NCAA transfer rules. He would be eligible again in 2017, or right away in 2016 if he transfers to a lower division school.
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.