The Rams had many weeks to stew in the stink created by the nine-game losing streak they endured to finish 2009. It'll be up to a slew of new offensive starters to reverse the luck over Fort Collins in 2010.
Up front, CSU graduated four linemen, and put all four into NFL camps. Only tackles Paul Madsen, Mark Starr, and guard Jake Gdowski started any games last year, and one backup, Ryan Griffith, played in a few games at the other tackle spot. So the guns up front will be young and inexperienced. Tyler McDermott (Jr., 6-2, 274) (right) appears to be the coaches' first choice at center, though he flubbed too many snaps during the spring to nail down the first spot on the 2-deep. Weston Richburg (Fr., 6-4, 278) is pressing.
Finding the starting five up front may be the Rams' biggest issue this fall, however, because the other big offensive questions appear to have been settled, more or less, in the spring. For the first time in Steve Fairchild's tenure, it appears he has more than one year's signal-called lined up under center. Early-enrolled true freshman Pete Thomas (left) wound up taking the first-team snaps for most of the last practices in April, ahead of redshirted freshman Nico Ranieri. Both of the freshmen showed well enough that Coach Fairchild didn't let disgruntled and disparaging remarks make it to the press this spring, like he has his first two years. The two young QBs have enconsed themselved deeply enough atop the depth chart that senior Jon Eastman transferred to a 2A school, and T.J. Borcky resumed play at WR.
Speaking of wide receivers, the Rams must replace the most prolific duo at that position that they've had in a long time. The lineup to replace Rashaun Greer and Dion Morton (who took with them 41% of the team's '09 catches and 48% of its receiving yards) appears to be T.J. Borcky (jr., 6-4, 204), Lou Greenwood (soph., 6-0, 183), Marquise Law (soph., 6-4, 193), Byron Steele (soph., 6-3, 207), Jyrone Hickman (sr., 6-3, 199) and Tyson Liggett (sr., 5-9, 186). Those five make a talented group, but like so much of the 2010 offense, untested.
There's genuine reason for optimism for the Rams on the ground: returners Leonard Mason and John Mosure have not kept ahead of freshman Chris Nwoke and transfer Raymond Carter (right) at runningback. There's suddenly tremendous depth in the backfield in Fort Collins; if the young line ahead of it can exceed last year's push, the Rams may feature a balanced attack, and return to their '08 form.
On defense there is less turmoil with the depthchart. DEs Zach Tiedgen and Cory Macon didn't practice, but expect to start in the fall. Their absence gave converted lineman Adam Seymore and Broderick Sargent a spring to take their first college snaps up front. Look for Wyittier, Miller, and Macon to start this fall, with Nuku Latu advancing to the top spot at DT to replace James Morehead.
At linebacker, Ram fans can't wait to see Ricky Brewer back from a one year suspension. He showed well this spring, while youngster Mychal Sisson played about half of the spring before his scheduled shoulder surgery. The two should anchor the defense in 2010. Davis Burl played well in Sisson's absence.
In the secondary, Ivory Herd (left) hopes to follow Elijah-Blu Smith's path to being a fixture in the Rams' defense. Herd started in injured Klay Kubiak's place for about half of 2009; Smith was thrown into the mix in 2008 because of injuries, as well.