Rams try to build on momentum from upset of CU
AP Sports Writer
BOULDER, Colorado – Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild considers his team in retooling mode as the Rams adjust to a new quarterback, new running backs and his way of doing things.
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins regards the Buffaloes as a team on the cusp of winning 10 games, even implying as much before the season.
Then this: Colorado State stunned the Buffaloes 23-17 on Sunday at Folsom Field, a place the Rams hadn’t won in since 1986.
Time to adjust those thoughts?
Not for Fairchild, who’s starting to get his recruits into Fort Collins after taking over for Sonny Lubick on Dec. 12, 2007.
“It’s a journey, not a one-year deal,” Fairchild said. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
Fairchild’s stock is shooting up after leading the Rams to a bowl game in his inaugural season and then starting off 2009 with a win over rival Colorado.
The former NFL offensive coordinator showed imagination on offense against the Buffaloes, calling gadget plays like a reverse that went for 26 yards. He also groomed quarterback Grant Stucker to the point where the fifth-year senior was efficient in his first career start.
Fairchild was quite giddy after the game.
“I felt like that bowl game (last year),” Fairchild said, comparing Sunday’s victory to a win over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. “I feel like we want to keep going in this way.”
Meanwhile, Hawkins and the Buffaloes need to find fixes – fast. The team turns around and plays at Toledo on Friday night.
“We don’t have any time,” Hawkins said. “We just have to throw it away and keep moving.”
But there’s plenty of lingering questions. Topping the list may be how long Hawkins sticks with his son, Cody, at quarterback.
Dan Hawkins didn’t reveal his starting quarterback until just before game time, electing to go with Cody Hawkins over the speedy Tyler Hansen.
Cody Hawkins had a choppy game, completing 24 of 40 passes for 222 yards. He also threw an interception, but added a 2-yard touchdown pass late in the game.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow. I’m a very proud person as a football player,” Cody Hawkins said. “I’m not mad. I’d say I’m disappointed. Now we have to focus on what we need to do to get better.”
Dan Hawkins insists it’s just little things the Buffaloes need to clean up, such as getting the running game back on track. Colorado rushed for just 29 yards.
What’s more, sophomore tailback Darrell Scott, the prized recruit who spurned Texas in favor of Colorado, carried the ball only once for 1 yard.
“There is not a big problem,” Hawkins said. “I think we will be all right.”
Hawkins is entering a pivotal fourth season with Colorado, a tenure that includes extreme highs (beating highly ranked Oklahoma in 2007) and demoralizing lows (losing to Montana State in his Colorado debut in 2006).
He’s 13-25 lifetime with the Buffaloes, and now has a 9-10 mark at Folsom Field after falling to Colorado State.
Hawkins said he wasn’t caught off guard by all the wrinkles in Rams’ game plan Sunday, yet CSU quickly jumped out to a 17-0 lead.
And that was behind a green quarterback.
Stucker’s confidence never wavered, though, partly due to the tutelage of Fairchild, who has a history of building up quarterbacks. While the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach with the St. Louis Rams, Fairchild helped turn Marc Bulger into a Pro Bowl MVP.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but (Stucker) is a talented young man,” Fairchild said.
With a new quarterback and a philosophy he’s still trying to instill, Fairchild said after the game the Rams remain a work in progress.
“The next few (years) are really – until we get to where we want to get, in terms of stacking things together,” Fairchild said. “But there’s no reason why we can’t play hard and, like last year, represent ourselves well.”