Undoubtedly, the most important position in football is quarterback.
The player touches the ball on every snap and he must make snap judgments about the opposing defense.
He has to call the plays in the huddle and call out a confusing cadence to draw off defensive linemen.
The QB has to hand the ball off well, and hurl it through the air with accuracy, all while understanding where each and every one of his 10 teammates are supposed to be on the field simultaneously.
It takes a great amount of experience to master the art of quarterbacking. Unfortunately for Colorado State and the University of Colorado, their QBs are works in progress.
CSU’s Garrett Grayson is a 21-year old sophomore, whose redshirt was burned in the ninth week of 2011 after then-starter Pete Thomas went down with a season-ending knee injury. In four games of action, Grayson completed 44-77 passes (57 percent) for 542 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions, while he ran for 193 yards and one score as well.
Grayson is certainly a dual threat quarterback, able to run if the pocket breaks down or if he can’t find an open receiver. But can he throw the ball consistently well with pressure in his face? How much has his accuracy improved this offseason with new QBs coach Dave Napier? How much of the McElwain offense does he grasp?
How much will Grayson be asked to throw in McElwain’s run-first offense, especially with junior running back star Chris Nwoke lined up behind him in the backfield?
In Boulder, Kansas transfer Jordan Webb earned the starting job for Jon Embree’s offense, and the 24-year old junior is so far along in the offense that he has been cleared to call audibles starting with Week One.
Embree told the Boulder Daily Camera, “He (Webb) was good with decisions — where to go with the ball, when to go with it, when to run, when to work the pocket. He’s very good at making decisions.”
It gives CU’s offense a decided advantage over CSU’s, as Webb will be able to change the play if he sees a weakness. But will Webb call the correct audible? Will he make the right decisions in the heat of the moment on the big stage this Saturday?
The 6’1” Webb is a two-year starter, and he threw for 1,884 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on a 64.7 completion percentage in 2011 with Kansas. His statistics suggest he’s more of a traditional pocket passer, and his touchdown to interception ratio isn’t impressive.
When Grayson was asked what it would be like to go into this game if he didn’t play at all last year he said, “Going to Mile High and playing CU, the big rival, I would have so many jitters. But now that I’ve got a few games in my system and know what it’s like playing Division I football, all of that will come together.”
Ram fans are hoping everything does come together for Grayson in the biggest college game he’s ever played in. The Rocky Mountain Showdown has been played in Denver 11 of the last 14 years to maximize crowd sizes. It’s the big stage, in an NFL stadium, on national TV.
Add on that, the pressure to win and win now in the “Bold New Era,” and the fact that CSU has lost the previous two games to CU, last winning in 2009 in Boulder.
Still, exactly how each quarterback reacts to their first Showdown is up in the mile high thin air, which adds to the intrigue of the game. Surely, either one could come out on fire and make a name for himself, or do just that by playing poorly as well.
The Rocky Mountain Showdown kicks off at 2 p.m. MT Saturday September 1 and will be televised on F/X for those not attending the game.
More RMS week CSU news:
Current Rams are quiet, but Joel Dreessen calls a blowout win for CSU
Five interesting things we learned from the first look at the CSU depth chart.
All 12 CSU Football games will be televised, some on national TV, this season. Read where here.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on facebook, twitter or by clicking follow below.