Football Game Notes: Rams at Air Force, Sept. 29, 2012
Sept. 24, 2012
COLORADO STATE RAMS at AIR FORCE FALCONS
Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 • 12 p.m. (MT) • Falcon Stadium (46,692) • Colorado Springs, Colo. • Altitude TV
FULL RELEASE IN PDF FORMAT | AIR FORCE RELEASE
The Rams (1-3) begin Mountain West Conference play this week, traveling down I-25 to face a familiar foe in the Air Force Academy. Colorado State seeks its first win against the Falcons since 2005, and its first at Falcon Stadium since 2002. Air Force enters the contest 1-2 after winning its opener against Idaho State and dropping its next two at Michigan and at UNLV. Kickoff is set for 12:06 p.m., and the game will be televised by Altitude Sport Network, as well as being heard across the Colorado State Radio Network. Saturday’s game will be the 51st in the series between Colorado State and Air Force, a series that began in 1957. The Falcons hold an all-time lead of 30-19-1 in the series, including a 14-10-1 mark in games played in Colorado Springs.
ON THE AIR: The game will be televised in HD by Altitude Sports Network, with Bill Doleman (play-by-play) and Jay Leeuwenburg (analyst) calling the action and Natalie Vickers reporting from the sidelines. CSU fans can find the radio broadcast on the Colorado State Radio Network, originating from AM 560 KLZ in Denver, with Brian Roth (play-by-play), former Rams great David Anderson (analyst), Kevin McGlue (analyst) and Marty Cesario (sidelines) on the call. The radio broadcast can also be heard on KCOL 600 AM in Ft. Collins, KSIR 1010 AM in Ft. Morgan and KNZZ 1100 in Grand Junction. The game video will be streamed online via the official website of the Rams, www.CSURams.com, outside Altitude’s geographic broadcast footprint of Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. For information on this subscription-based service, please visit the website and set up your account today.
OFF THE TOP...
TRIPLE THREAT: Junior CB Shaq Bell recorded an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery Saturday against Utah State, becoming the first Ram with all three in one game since LB Mychal Sisson, at San Diego State, Nov. 6, 2010.
His interception came in the third quarter with CSU trailing 17-3 and led to a field goal.
Bell’s forced fumble also came in the third quarter after a second-quarter fumble recovery. The recovery was the third of his career and first since Oct. 22, 2011, at UTEP.
Bell also is the first Ram with two takeaways in a game since Sisson had a fumble recovery and an interception Nov. 6, 2011, at San Diego State.
PETE CAN PUNT: Senior P Pete Kontodiakos, a candidate for the Ray Guy Award, has recorded a punt of of 50 yards or more in five consecutive games, dating back to last season.
His 72-yard punt Sept. 15 at San Jose State is the longest by a Mountain West punter this season, tied for second nationally and second-longest of his career.
With a season average of 45.9 he is on pace for the highest average in school history (Mike Deutsch, 46.1, 1976), and ranks seventh in the nation (No. 1 MW).
Kontodiakos booted a 69-yard punt in the opener vs. Colorado, now third-longest in his career (longest is 76 yards; vs. New Mexico, Oct. 30, 2009).
TAKING CARE OF THE FOOTBALL: When sophomore QB Garrett Grayson threw two touchdown passes without an interception versus Utah State he improved his TD/INT ratio to 7/2 for the season in 127 attempts, and improved his career ratio to 9/8.
With just two interceptions through four games this season (an INT percentage of 1.6), Grayson is the first Rams starting quarterback to have so few interceptions through the season’s first four games since 1985 (Kelly Stouffer).
He has been effective distributing the ball among his receivers, with six players hauling in his seven touchdown passes, and eight players have five or more receptions on the year.
Grayson also has three multi-touchdown games this season, while avoiding any multi-interception performances.
BREAKOUT PERFORMANCES: Sophomore WR Charles Lovett has 12 receptions for 163 yards in his last two games after recording just seven receptions for 53 yards for his career through the first two games of 2012.
Lovett’s seven receptions versus Utah State Saturday were the most by a Ram since the 2011 season-opener (TE Joe Brown, 7).
He set career highs in receptions (five) and yards (99) at San Jose State Sept. 15, while recording his first career receiving touchdown. He then set a new high with seven receptions (64 yards) vs. Utah State.
SACK ARTIST: Freshman linebacker Cory James tied the CSU freshman sack record when he recorded his fifth of the season versus Utah State. James’ five sacks tie him for 8th in the nation (1st in MW), and he is tied for eighth in sacks per game (1.25). James is the only freshman ranked in the nation’s top 20 in sacks. Additionally, James has recorded 5.5 tackles for loss, tying for 2nd in the Mountain West, and 33rd in the nation.
TOUGH SLEDDING: The three teams to defeat Colorado State this season have a combined record of 9-2 (North Dakota State, 3-0; San Jose State, 3-1; Utah State, 3-1). Together, they are outscoring opponents by a combined tally of 386-159 (35.1-14.5).
CLEANED UP PLAY: The Rams have averaged just 3.5 penalties for 28.5 yards in each of the last two games, after being flagged for an average of 8.5 penalties for 95 yards in the season’s first two games.
FINDING A RHYTHM: Colorado State’s 91-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Utah State was its longest scoring drive since Oct. 16, 2010 (2-94) vs. UNLV. The Rams’ earlier 15-play touchdown drive was their longest in terms of plays this season. With a season-high six offensive plays of 20 or more yards in that game, the Rams have 15 for the season.
IMPROVEMENT DEPARTMENT: Amidst the inconsistency that has marked the Rams performance in all three phases, several significant areas of improvement stand out:
Passing yards/game: 216.2 (was 184.6 in 2011)
Yards/reception: 11.8 (was 10.6 in 2011)
Red Zone scores: 86% (was 68% in 2011
Opponent rushing avg., game/carry: 159.0/4.0 (was 233.7/5.5 in 2011)
RAMS vs. FALCONS
All-time, overall: 19-30-1
All-time, in Fort Collins: 8-13
All-time, in Colorado Springs: 10-14-1
First meeting: Nov. 30, 1957, in Denver; CSU won 20-7
Last meeting: Nov. 26, 2011, in Fort Collins; AFA won, 45-21
Last meeting in Colorado Springs: Oct. 9, 2010; AFA won, 49-27
Series streaks: The Falcons have won seven of the last eight games, including five straight under head coach Troy Calhoun.
CSU – Jim McElwain: 1-3, first season as head coach
AFA – Troy Calhoun: 42-26, sixth season as head coach
Head to Head: (first meeting)
Against Opponent: (McElwain: first meeting, Calhoun: 5-0)
Troy Calhoun is the only head football coach at the Air Force Academy to lead teams to five consecutive seven-plus win seasons, and is the only coach in the history of service academy football to coach a team in five straight bowl games. Air Force has done this under Calhoun’s tutelage while playing very strong opponents. Calhoun’s 2009 Air Force squad was the only team in the last 50 years of service academy football to play at least four ranked teams and win a bowl game in the same season.
Calhoun brought to Air Force a wealth of experience at the collegiate and professional levels that was flooded with success at every stop prior to the Academy. Calhoun came to the Academy after serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans in 2006. The Texans were one of only two NFL teams to triple their number of wins from the previous year. The 2006 Texans were the last team to defeat the Indianapolis Colts on their way to the Super Bowl championship.
Former Clear Creek High School (League City, Texas) teammates CSU’s Jared Biard and AFA’s Luke Duncavage will meet in Saturday’s game.
Blue Springs, Mo. is represented by Rams’ Donnell Alexander and the Falcons Drew Kerber and Dontae Strickland, who went to the same high school as Alexander.
In the 2011 match up versus Air Force, running back Chris Nwoke ran wild over the Falcons for 269 yards and two touchdowns. His rushing total set a Hughes Stadium record.
Garrett Grayson was able to make plays with his arm and his feet as he rushed for 43 yards.
Defensively, James Skelton accounted for 13 tackles (six solo) and Max Morgan had his first career fumble recovery.
Utah State 31, Colorado State 19 | Sept. 22, 2012 -- Fort Collins, Colo.
Junior cornerback Shaq Bell had a big night for the Rams’ defense with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. His interception came in the third quarter with CSU trailing 17-3 and led to a field goal. Bell had his forced fumble in the third quarter. His recovery came in the second quarter and was the third fumble recovery of his career, first since Oct. 22, 2011, at UTEP. Bell is the first Ram with two takeaways in a game since linebacker Mychal Sisson had a fumble recovery and an interception Nov. 6, 2011, at San Diego State, and first with INT, FF and FR in the same game since Sisson at San Diego State, 11/6/10.
Sophomore wide receiver Charles Lovett caught a career-high seven passes for 64 yards, one week after setting his previous career high with five at San Jose State (99 yards). He has 12 receptions for 163 yards in his last two games after recording just seven receptions for 53 yards for his career through the first two games of 2012. Lovett’s seven receptions tonight are the most by a Rams player since the 2011 season-opener when tight end Joe Brown also had 7.
Senior wide receiver Marquise Law hauled in his first career touchdown reception on a career-long 29-yard toss from Garrett Grayson in the fourth quarter. Law finished with career highs for receptions (4) and receiving yards (76) for an average of 19.0 yards per catch. He entered the game with three receptions for 30 yards on the season.
Freshman running back Tommey Morris had runs of 33 (third quarter) and 27 yards (second quarter) in the game. His 33-yarder was the fourth-longest play from scrimmage for Colorado State this season and second-longest rush. He entered the game with just 2 net yards on five carries in his true freshman season, before recorded the best rushing game by a Ram this season, with 76 yards on 8 carries (9.5).
Morris’ 76 rushing yards are the most by a Rams freshman since Chris Nwoke rushed for 98 yards on Oct. 30, 2010, vs. New Mexico.
Sophomore quarterback Garrett Grayson threw two touchdowns without throwing an interception tonight, improving his TD/INT ratio to 7/2 for the season in 127 attempts. With just two interceptions through four games this season (an INT percentage of 1.6), Grayson is the first Rams starting quarterback to throw so few interceptions through the season’s first four games since 1985 (Kelly Stouffer).
Sophomore kicker Jared Roberts connected on 28- and 31-yard field goals in the third quarter for Colorado State’s first six points of the night. Roberts , who earned a scholarship Aug. 23, 2012, is 5-6 on field goals for the year.
RS-Freshman linebacker Cory James tied the Colorado State freshman sack record when he registered his fifth sack of the season in the first half. James dropped Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton for a 6-yard loss on a 1-and-10 play in the 2nd quarter.
P Pete Kontodiakos unleashed a 50-yard punt in the first quarter, marking the fifth consecutive game with a punt of 50 yards or longer. Kontodiakos entered the game ranked sixth in the nation and on pace for the best single-season punting average (46.8). He averaged 45.2 yards on 5 first-half punts.
Sophomore tight end Kivon Cartwright who caught one pass for 9 yards, also recorded a rushing attempt for 8 yards in the third quarter. It was the first time he had run the ball from scrimmage since his sophomore year at Pueblo (Colo.) South High School. The last Rams tight end to register a rushing attempt was Kory Sperry (also from Pueblo), on Oct. 4, 2008, vs. UNLV.
CSU’s game captains today: WR Charles Lovett, QB Garrett Grayson, DE Lanston Tanyi & LB Davis Burl.
Tonight’s attendance was 23,374. Through two home dates Colorado State’s average home attendance is 23,471.
Utah State won the toss and elected to defer. CSU received kickoff and defended north goal.
POSTGAME QUOTES: Head Coach Jim McElwain
“Let’s point out the obvious: we’re getting in no rhythm offensively and rhythm is very important in this game. We have some really good stuff, (but) we have to make sure we can handle it and do what is right for the guys that are playing in the game.”
“Defensively, I really thought they showed flashes. They played hard. They gave up a big play and yet they came up with a couple turnovers and gave us an opportunity. We have to put touchdowns on the board when we are down there. The one good thing is I didn’t see guys quit. I did not see them throw in the towel. That is encouraging.”
“Special teams: We have to define the players, and this next week we travel with a smaller travel squad when we go into conference play. There is a lot of open spots, and guys are going to be on that bus that are committed to playing had every down and committed to their role. We’re going to find that and we’re going to get it going. I thought our secondary for the most part stepped up and recharged a little bit. I am proud of those guys."
2012 SEASON NOTES
KONTODIAKOS REACHING RARE STATUS: Senior punter Pete Kontodiakos has punted 184 times in his career, seventh-most among active punters in the NCAA. Remarkably, 52 of his 184 punts (28%) have gone for 50 or more yards. His career punting average of 43.2 ranks 15th in the nation among active players (min. 15 games played, 3.6 punts per game), and fourth-best among the group with 184 or more career punts. That figure ranks No. 1 among Mountain West punters and tied for third all-time at CSU.
TWO-TIGHT END ALIGNMENT: The Rams have started the first four games of the season in a two-tight end set, with Crockett Gillmore and Kivon Cartwright. The last time a CSU team had begun a game with two tight ends prior to this year’s opener was the 2011 home-opener against Northern Colorado (Sept. 10; Crockett Gillmore and Blake Jones). Gillmore and Cartwright each surpassed 100 receiving yards for the season in just three games. The last time a Rams team had two tight ends with 100 or more yards in a season was 2005 (Kory Sperry, 547 and Matt Bartz, 133).
Two TE sets since 2005: 2012: 4/4...2011: 1/12...2010: 0/12...2009: 0/12...2008: 3/13...2007: 1/12...2006: 12/12...2005: 4/12.
SOPHOMORE SIGNAL-CALLER: By throwing two touchdown passes and rushing for one at San Jose State (9/15/12), sophomore quarterback Garrett Grayson became just the third CSU quarterback in the last four seasons to rush for a touchdown and throw for multiple scores in the same game. He is the only Ram to do that in a road game in that period.
Player, Game (TDs)
Garrett Grayson, 2012 – 9/15 at SJSU (3, 1 rush)
Pete Thomas, 2011 – 10/1 vs. SJSU (4, 1 rush)
Grant Stucker, 2009 – 9/19 vs. Nevada (3, 1 rush)
Grayson had a career day on a number of fronts against San Jose State, setting four career highs and tying a fifth. His 337 yards of total offense (40 rush yards) are sixth-most by a Mountain West quarterback this season.
FRESHMAN IMPACT: Redshirt-freshman running back Donnell Alexander rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries (4.9) in the first start of his college career versus North Dakota State Sept. 8. His rushing total was the most by a Colorado State freshman in his first career start since 1995, when Jaime Blake tallied 170 yards on 27 carries (6.3) vs. Hawai’i (11/11/95).
RANKINGS ROUNDUP: Through four games the Rams rank at or near the top the Mountain West, and the nation, in several statistical categories:
--Pete Kontodiakos: 1st MW (7th NCAA) in punting average (45.9)
--Jared Roberts: T-2nd MW (T-38th NCAA) in field goals (1.25/game)...T-2nd in FG percentage (83.3%)
--Cory James: 1st MW (T-8th NCAA) in sacks (5.0)...T-2nd MW tackles for loss (1.5/game; T-33rd NCAA)
--Aaron Davis: T-15th MW in tackles (30), 2nd among linebackers
--Shaquil Barrett: T-15th MW in tackles (30)...8th MW tackles for loss (0.75/game)...8.1 tackles per game in 16 career games, most in MW and 14th NCAA among active players with minimum 15 games played
--Lanston Tanyi: 1st MW (T-5th NCAA) in FR (2)...3rd in tackles (25) among MW defensive linemen
--Jared Roberts: 48-yard field goal vs. Colorado is longest by MW kicker this season
--TEAM: T-2nd MW (T-47th NCAA) in sacks (9)
BEAST OF THE DEFENSE: Junior linebacker Shaquil Barrett led the Rams with a career-high 15 tackles vs. North Dakota State Sept. 8, the most by a Ram since Ricky Brewer notched 15 twice in November 2008 (11/22/08 at Wyoming and 11/8/08 at Air Force). His performance included a sack for a loss of 6 yards. Barrett’s previous high of 14 came vs. San Diego State on 11/12/11 and at Utah State on 9/24/11.
TANYI’S TACKLES: Defensive end Lanston Tanyi, in his first year with the Rams after transferring from Appalachian State has recorded 8 and 10 tackles, respectively, in the last two games. His 8 stops vs. North Dakota State on Sept. 8 were the most by a Rams defensive lineman since C.J. James recorded 8 tackles against New Mexico last season, 9/3/11. He surpassed that with 10 at San Jose State, most in the category since Oct. 31, 2009 when Guy Miller recorded 12 vs. Air Force.
CSU Defensive Linemen with 8+ tackles in a game (since 2005)
16, Jake Pottorff--at Houston, Sept. 22, 2007
12, Guy Miller--vs. Air Force, Oct. 31, 2009
10, Lanston Tanyi--at San Jose State, Sept. 15, 2012
10, Erik Sandie--vs. Air Force, Oct. 13, 2007
10, Matt Rupp--at Houston, Sept. 22, 2007
9, Cory Macon--vs. Utah, Oct. 10, 2009
9, Jake Pottorff--vs. San Diego State, Oct. 6, 2007
8, Lanston Tanyi--vs. North Dakota State, Sept. 8, 2012
8, 7 others; most recently C.J. James--at New Mexico, Sept. 3, 2011
BIG PLAYS: CSU through four games has 15 offensive plays of 20-plus yards and one of 40-plus, including at least one play of 33 yards or longer in each game.
LONG-DISTANCE THREAT TOO: Junior tight end Crockett Gillmore’s 69-yard touchdown reception from Garrett Grayson vs. North Dakota State Sept. 8 was the longest by a Rams tight end since Joel Dreessen’s 85-yard TD catch from Bradlee Van Pelt at California, Sept. 6, 2003, and is the fifth-longest by a Mountain West player this season.
TEAM CAPTAINS: The Rams in 2012 under Jim McElwain will have weekly game captains, instead of season captains.
Game 1 at Colorado: Junior RB Chris Nwoke, junior OL Weston Richburg, senior LB Shaquil Barrett and senior LB James Skelton.
Game 2 vs. North Dakota State: Senior WR Marquise Law, senior TE Austin Gillmore, senior CB Marcus Shaw and senior P Pete Kontodiakos.
Game 3 at San Jose State: Sophomore TE Kivon Cartwright, senior LB Broderick Sargent, senior CB Momo Thomas and senior RB Mark Woodbury.
Game 4 vs. Utah State: Sophomore WR Charles Lovett, senior DE Lanston Tanyi, senior LB Davis Burl and sophomore QB Garrett Grayson.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Game 1--at Colorado (9/1)
Mountain West Player of the Week--LB Cory James (defense), K Jared Roberts (special teams)
College Football Performance Awards, National LB of the Week--Cory James
Game 2--vs. North Dakota State (9/8)
College Football Performance Awards, Honorable Mention, National TE Performer of the Week--Crockett Gillmore
Game 3--at San Jose State (9/15)
College Football Performance Awards, Honorable Mention, National Punter Performer of the Week--Pete Kontodiakos
BACK TO OUR ROOTS: Colorado State debuted a new look this season with a return to a simpler uniform. The Rams also have added a pumpkin orange “A” on the back of their helmets as a nod to the team’s heritage as the Colorado A&M Aggies, symbolizing the school’s history as a Land Grant institution.
SIDELINE SWITCH: Head coach Jim McElwain introduced another new tradition with his choice to have the Rams inhabit the west sideline at Hughes Stadium for home games. The Rams had previously been stationed on the east sideline for their entire history at Hughes Stadium. In fact, it is believed that the last Colorado State team to use the west sideline for its home games was coached by Hughes Stadium namesake Harry Hughes, whose career spanned 1911-41.
Jim McElwain AT A GLANCE:
Newly appointed Athletic Director Jack Graham hired Jim McElwain on Dec. 13, 2011.
McElwain, who opened up the Bold New Era with a win over in-state rival Colorado, still hasn’t dropped a season-opener at the college level since 2004 as an assistant head coach at Michigan State.
McElwain knows the territory of being bowl eligible. He has been to a bowl games in nine of the past 11 years, including two national championships with Alabama (2009, 2011. He compiled a 47-6 record at Alabama.
CSU LEGEND MYERS TO ENTER COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Former Jim Thorpe Award winner Greg Myers, a two-time All-American at Colorado State, was selected for enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame in late May. He became the third individual in the history of Colorado State’s football program to earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, joining consensus All-American Thurman “Fum” McGraw and former head coach Earle Bruce.
In Fort Collins Myers led the Rams to a pair of league championships (1994-95) and consecutive Holiday Bowl berths. During Myers’ junior season, CSU appeared in the national rankings for 13 weeks, including the highest ranking in program history, No. 10 over the last five polls of the regular season prior to a loss to Michigan. The Rams finished No. 14 in the final 1994 rankings.
Rams head coach Jim McElwain invited Myers to speak to the team on the first day of fall camp on Aug. 4, 2012. McElwain encouraged Myers to bring his Thorpe Award back to campus and gave it a permanent home in the football offices so those in the program could continue to recognize and draw inspiration from Myers’ special accomplishment achieved as a Ram.
A NOD TO THE PAST: New Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain has said often since his hire that he intends to “reach back into our history to help our future.” Specifically, he has invited former players and coaches back to campus to be close to the program, and impart some of their wisdom on his current team. In addition to former All-American and Thorpe Award winner Greg Myers and his former head coach Sonny Lubick, speaking to the team, McElwain was proud to announce in August the hire of former CSU standout defensive lineman Greg Pollard in the Rams’ student-athlete academic services department.
GRAHAM USHERS IN NEW LEADERSHIP AT COLORADO STATE: The 2012 season is the Rams’ first under the leadership of director of athletics John C. “Jack” Graham, hired Dec. 1, 2011. From that moment Graham has boldly placed Colorado State’s program on an ambitious path towards national prominence with his visionary leadership. A successful business leader and former Rams quarterback, Graham has energized the department under the motto, “Dream big, work hard and settle for nothing less than excellence.” Graham, a Rams quarterback from 1973-74, went to work quickly on his plans. His first major initiative was to conduct a thorough evaluation of all athletic programs and to engage with donors and supporters about their goals for CSU athletics. Graham has been bold in his pursuit of a plan to build an on-campus stadium at CSU, the feasibility of which is being considered at this time by Colorado State University President Tony Frank.
JACK GRAHAM AT A GLANCE
Education: Bachelor’s degree, U.S. history; Colorado State, ‘75
Played quarterback for CSU from 1973-74
Drafted by the Miami Dolphins
Successful 30-year career in the international insur¬ance and reinsurance markets
Founded iCAT Managers, a leader in catastrophic risk insurance products
Advisory board member of the National Center of Atmospheric Research
Married to wife, Ginger Graham