Rams defense shines in first scrimmage under McElwain

April 6, 2012

Stuart Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The defense left no doubt that it will be the difference maker in the upcoming season.

During Friday’s scrimmage at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes stadium they combined for 27 sacks, a pick 6, and 30 tackles for loss. 

Head Coach Jim McElwain said that tells him one of two things.

“You either can’t protect or you have pretty decent rushers,” McElwain said.

The Rams had three players on the offensive line that started six or more games last season, so that isn’t the worry. The defense put together its best all-around performance of the spring.

A couple players who stood out are on the defensive line. C.J. James and Nordly, who were No. 1 and 2 in the Mountain West in sacks, had five and four sacks respectively. The two defensive ends also combined for 12 tackles. 

The offense was able to get the best of the defense with a 4-yard TD rush by Tommey Morris, a freshman out of Permian High School. This was the only offensive score of the game. 

Friday had one other touchdown and that came on a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown by redshirt freshman Cory James. James also recorded two sacks and three  tackles for loss. 

Another standout from Friday’s scrimmage was Chris Nwoke. Nwoke ran the ball hard and was able to break off a few long runs. 

McElwain was impressed with Nwoke but still saw room for improvement. 

“I’d like to see him pull his legs through a little bit on contact,” McElwain said. “I thought he had a chance to take a couple a little farther, but he runs hard, and obviously he proved what kind of a player he is today. I was proud of him.”

Nwoke finished the scrimmage with seven rushes for 52 yards. 

The Rams have practices on Monday and Wednesday to fine tune their skills before practicing in front of the public in Glendale, a suburb of Denver, on Friday the 13th. 

Other post-practice comments from McElwain

On the defense: “The defense came in and did a nice job with situational football. At times they, maybe, could have wrapped up a little better instead of trying to take a kill shot.”

On the scrimmage: “I think the organization of the scrimmage was good. We got all the situations in.”

“You get disappointed a little bit when one team maybe doesn’t do as good as the other. But at the end of the day we are all a team and these guys are going to stay together. We have a chance to be a pretty decent ball squad.”

“I was really kind of happy about the pace of the scrimmage. I thought the guys handled substitutions pretty decently for the first time. I’m kind of a little optimistic.”

On QB assessment: “With the wind, the protections, this and that, I thought they started out pretty good, on a decent rhythm. We missed, obviously, two touchdown throws that are just accurate issues but that is why we practice.”