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On Saturday, Colorado State football sprung into action during their annual Green and Gold Spring Game. There were lots of takeaways, but the most important one was seeing redshirt sophomore Nick Stevens emerge as the team’s top quarterback.
Following Garrett Grayson’s graduation to (likely) the NFL, the Rams were without a starting QB. It seems Stevens has taken control of the position with his improved play over the course of the spring practices.
That improvement in grasping new head coach Mike Bobo’s offense was no clearer than on Saturday, as Stevens sliced and diced the first and second-team defenses with ease. On the day, with both the Green (first-team offense) and Gold (second-team), No. 7 in the orange jersey was on fire. Stevens went 27-41 with 438 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. All that production without Rashard Higgins, the team’s All-American receiver who sat out for precautionary reasons.
He showed great accuracy, a deft touch to drop the ball in over receivers’ shoulders and an understanding of where to go with the ball. Stevens’ first touchdown came on a post to Jordan Vaden, the defender had no chance. The second score came on a 39-yard pass to Joe Hansley, who had to go up and steal the ball from the defender as it was slightly underthrown. Then came the two go routes by Trey Smith down the left sideline as he burned defenders with ease. Bobo called Smith the fastest player on the team and it seems likely we’ll see the redshirt freshman making big plays in the fall.
Stevens wasn’t perfect, one pass should’ve been intercepted on a quick out but was dropped by Kevin Nutt. He made a few overthrows and forced a couple balls into coverages, but overall, the youngster looks ready to start the fall now.
“He did a nice job,” Bobo said of Stevens postgame. “He knew where he was going the whole game. He missed a couple throws but that’s going to happen. He was a lot more decisive with his throws. He wasn’t aiming them. He might have aimed one, but otherwise he was letting it rip.”
In last week’s scrimmage at Dove Valley, Bobo said the youthful QB was “aiming” too many of his throws; it was clear he took coach’s advice and trusted in his ability Saturday.
“Well, day one it was a little rough because you don’t really know what’s going on out there because it’s all new stuff,” Stevens explained of the demand to learn everything in a short period of time. “But I think over these past weeks the whole offense has done a really great job grasping the concepts and kind of coming out with tempo and if you mess it up, mess it up going 100 percent. You know he’s right because last week, in the scrimmage, I kind of aimed the ball a little bit too much and I kind of focused this week on letting it rip a little bit and it kind of helped out.”
Senior Joe Hansley was the leading receiver on the day, with eight catches for 148 yards and that score. Smith was second and then Cole Anderson also had four catches for 86 yards. Without Higgins, the Rams depth at receiver showed, too. More on that later.
For now, Ram fans can rest assured their team is going into the fall with a quarterback ready to lead the team in Stevens.