QB Bradlee Van Pelt
Coach: Sonny Lubick
84-38, 10 years
2002 Record: 10-4
at Virginia WON 35-29
vs. Colorado WON 19-14
at UCLA LOST 19-30
at Nevada WON 32-28
at Fresno State LOST 30-32
at Utah WON 28-20
at Air Force WON 31-12
at San Diego State WON 49-21
Texas Christian LOST 3-17

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

Without Cecil Sapp, the team will surely take a few steps back, but is likely to eventually make even more steps forward to push this team farther than their record-setting effort of 2002. Sonny Lubick has enough weapons on both sides of the ball to weave his team through a less-competitive schedule for more wins. But this isn't always a good thing… do-or-die games build character, as evidenced in Lubick's 39-19 road-record while at CSU. 2002 took shape when they started off against Colorado, Virginia, and UCLA, soundly winning two and almost beating all three. Once he gets these kids over their collective fears, they have gone on to then succeed. So, accordingly, this year's patsy-by-comparison line-up of scrimmages looks like a bad omen.

This is a team balanced with experience from both young and older players. No one area is so depleted that opposing coaches will be able to easily exploit the other weaknesses, too. Van Pelt and Wynn will be the vocal leaders that shape the team for any success to come.

The running game's development on both sides of the ball is their key. Defense comes first, of course. Stopping the run is most important, knowing backs had their way with this undersized front-seven in 2002. Opposing coaches will start here. If the Ram offense is kept off the field with long, sustained drives, successful running attacks effectively negate any advantages the offense can supply.

Reciprocally, the Ram's running game can do the same, keeping opponent's offenses in check while they methodically control multiple elements to easily supply them wins. The passing game will be important early on so the ground attack can gain the identity, and eventually the yards required to dominate. They may not match 2002's 388 total-yards-per- or nearly 30 points-per-game, but numbers do not always equate with wins. Lubick has to instill this into Van Pelt's mind to assure his QB's error-free ways continue for maximum possible success. But he also has a squad that can win a shoot-out when called to arms that way. And will Wynn again don offensive responsibilities? Opposing coaches should plan for this, as in 2002 he appeared when least expected.

It is theirs to make, or break. The team needs to win when expected. Losses to Colorado, Air Force and/or Fresno State cannot equal more than two. Given they will likely lose one due to size issues, these Rams are still looking to have 10 or more wins, which would tie/break 2002's school-record. This is essential with such weak competition - their only hope of a major bowl is if they have no more than one loss. When they lose one they shouldn't, reality will come crashing back with a then huge tumble, if ranked. They knock on the door again, but do not get the answers needed to reach the next level.

Projected 2003 record: 11-1
QB Bradlee Van Pelt
DE Patrick Goodpaster
DB Justin Kappeler
QB - 4.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 3 LB - 4.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Bradlee Van Pelt, 287-150-7, 2073 yds., 10 TD's

Rushing: Bradlee Van Pelt, 150 att., 819 yds., 11 TD's

Receiving: Chris Pittman, 60 rec., 807 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Jeff Babcock, 24-32 FG, 40-44 PAT, 1 TD, 118 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Jeff Babcock, 24-32 FG, 40-44 PAT, 112 pts.

Tackles: Eric Pauly, 121 tot., 53 solo

Sacks: Drew Wood, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Dexter Wynn, 2 for 56 yds.

Kickoff returns: Dexter Wynn, 22 ret., 22.3 avg.

Punt returns: Dexter Wynn, 35 ret., 16.2 avg.


KR Dexter Wynn
OFFENSE: Cecil Sapp-RB, Joey Cuppari-WR, Henri Childs-H, Morgan Pears-OG
DEFENSE: Peter Hogan-DE, Wallace Thomas-DE, Doug Heald-SLB, Rhett Nelson-CB, David Vickers-SS, Joey Huber-P, Adam Wade-SLB

written by Dave Hershorin

The CSU offense has achieved something all the great BYU and other MWC teams who have been ranked or respected never could. In 2002, they easily chewed up major-conference (Big XII, ACC, PAC-10) opponents regularly, unstoppable at times and only beaten by themselves, not superior play. Even the loss of Cecil Sapp should not deter this squad from reaching a similar potential, possibly not as dominant, but just as effective with a slightly different identity.

Most important is Bradlee Van Pelt and his unteachable, improvisational manor. He toned down his 2002 approach for optimum team balance, and it worked wonders. Van Pelt tried 30 or more passes in merely one game (at UCLA, a loss), and he threw just 7 INTs, only once throwing two in a game and five times tossing none. But he still exhibited the needed scrambling and thinking skills when the Rams had to rely on him. With Sapp gone, he will again be leaned upon to more frequently apply his innate abilities than when he has a feared back. But that should be a good thing. He has patience now, which he can use to throw the ball away or take the shot instead of costing his team with risky actions. That will produce less points, but, if Van Pelt can focus, more wins.

Back up sophomore QB Justin Holland throws clothes-lines as well as he does touch-passes. Any offensive dilemmas will result in his insertion, with Van Pelt in his senior year and Holland his obvious inheritor. This happened in 2002 often. Holland was the nation's top rated QB recruit when he declared and has the mechanics to lead CSU to the next level. Tutelage under Van Pelt will pass on those leadership tenets Bradlee has used to take this team its farthest ever.

The line returns experienced upper- and lower-classmen who will, like at QB, pass on enough unit experience to make not just this year's crew great, but the next few, too. Sapp's 4.6 yards-per-carry exemplify the lines ability. They are sized perfectly for both mobility and toe-to-toe toughness. And since already tested against top-conference opponents, these kids have the confidence to know of their high potential and take it to that next level. The schedule brings much smaller DLs (save Colorado) that should be dominate-able. TE Matt Bartz needs to bulk up so he can block as well as he catches - he is an important wild-card in a system missing a FB. He could line-up behind Van Pelt if the backs need help.

But the changing of the RB guard is the only serious Ram concern. Rahsaan Sanders inherits the 24th ranked I-A rushing attack from the unstoppable "Diesel". Sanders' size difference alone is the drop-off - Cecil was just as quick, with size for tackle-breaking not-to-be-matched by Sanders. He was out all 2002 with a lingering hamstring pull, a factor working against him having 13- or 14-game durability. He played DB, so his athletic skills are highly recognized. But back-up Tristan Walker will press him in preseason drills. This exceptional human specimen squats 505 pounds and vertically leaps 39 inches to give Lubick a Diesel-like option that can keep both backs fresh into fourth quarters, if rotated. Their one-back system screams for this to help keep the running game as viable and respected.

The receiving has been spotty, streaking hot-and-cold in 2002. The new look to the receiving corps will actually help these consistency issues. Now-departed Cuparri and Childs were responsible for this, making memorable, spectacular catches that were matched by as many dropped balls at crucial times. Their mistakes proved costly in losses, and the returning snarlers will fix this area's short-comings. Senior Chris Pittman leads a group boasting soon-to-break-out speedster sophomore David Anderson (also benches 300+). They are the promise we point to that will make this group more bankable than 2002's. And senior back up Eric Hill will compliment H-Back junior Joel Dreessen to prove the group as tops in their conference by season's end. Van Pelt and Holland can assure this.

The entire approach will differ as less consistency at RB and more at WR causes fundamental shifts in offensive expectations. Look for more passes (mainly shorter routes, but both Van Pelt's and Holland's arm(s) will stretch defenses regularly), as the air-attack will help usher in the running game's new look. If again feared, the running game will switch places and be the primary heat that makes their offensive knife go right through opponents' defensive butter. Teamed with a reliable receiving corps and experienced line, the offense will again be Lubick's pride and joy.


H Joel Dreessen


Returning Starters in bold
QB Bradlee Van Pelt-Sr Justin Holland-So
RB Rahsaan Sanders-Sr Marcus Houston-Jr
WR Eric Hill-Sr David Anderson-So
WR Chris Pittman-Sr Russell Sprague-Sr
H Joel Dreessen-Jr Brandon Alconcel-So
TE Matt Bartz-So James Sondrup-Sr
OT Mike Brisiel-So Jonathan Moore-Fr
OG Albert Bimper-So Terrell Gardner-Sr
C Mark Dreyer-Sr Jon Van Lant-Jr
OG Jamie Amicarella-Sr Josh Day-Fr
OT Erik Pears-Jr Zeke Hacker-Sr
K Jeff Babcock-Jr Kevin Mack-So



written by Dave Hershorin

The defense represented the Rams' biggest 2002 problems. Allowing 4.3 yard-per-rush was abysmal. No wonder, with no one over 300 pounds to neutralize more than one O-linemen and require double-teams. And the turnover doesn't bode well - replacement end Andre Sommersell comes in under 220 pounds, a drop-off from graduated 250-pounder Wallace Thomas. Smaller 2003 opponents make this issue not such a stressed concern, but still a vulnerable point, regardless. Both middle DL-men are 280-plus, size that is adequate for all but Colorado.

The LB corps is, too, undersized for this millennium. But they play big, often carrying the weaker defensive areas when needed. Leader Eric Pauly will be key to improving the run-stopping numbers from 2002. Their abilities to help the secondary cover the field need to be sharpened, too, though they are adequate as far as speed goes. It is their inability to react to play-fakes and cover the underneath routes that concerns coaches. Too many of their opponents big plays started out as short gains that then exploded to exploit just how out of position the LBs regularly were. They, too, have their work cut out, with Colorado, Fresno State and Air Force posing offenses that could easily exploit the Rams here. Back ups are all under 240 pounds, so, like the DL, size is not an option here. But all starters here are seniors, meaning the learning curve kicks in now or never - a promise this dimension has much improvement to come.

The secondary is again poised to rule opponents. Dexter Wynn is their all-around corner who makes opposing QBs throw away from his side regularly. He has make-up speed and senses for the ball rarely seen at any level, surely a future Sunday regular. But he gambles too often, either making or giving up the big play. Wynn needs to keep the play in front of him more so as to avoid constantly leaning on his super-human levels of performance just to save the day. Allowing under 210 yards-per-game through the air is a good basis for building confidence. These other DBs all have the size their front-seven counter parts lack. That means no player (besides the huge-playing Wynn) comes in under six-foot. There will be no physically superior receiving corps that will over-match them size-wise. You either get them out of position or get nowhere. Look for up-and-coming sophomore Ben Stratton to eventually give Lubick another shut-down corner. This crew will dominate most of the schedule's teams. It is through Wynn and Stratton's solid play that they can get an eighth player into the box - a step that can marginally (and eventually) change entire season's complexions.


LB Eric Pauly


Returning Starters in bold
DE Patrick Goodpaster-Jr Chuck Asiodu-Jr
NT Bryan Save-Sr Delroy Parke-So
DT Lavell Mann-Sr Chris Kiffin-Jr
DE Andre Sommersell-Sr Luke Adkins-Fr
SLB John Flora-Sr Jahmal Hall-So
MLB Drew Wood-Sr Courtney Jones-So
WLB Eric Pauly-Sr Tim Martz-Jr
CB Ben Stratton-So Brandon Cathy-Fr
CB Dexter Wynn-Sr Danny Foster-Fr
SS Benny Mastropaolo-Sr Adam Hayward-So
FS Landon Jones-Jr Lukas Davis-Fr
P Jeff Babcock-Jr Tyler Powell-Sr




Replacing the punter should be easily done in the thin, Colorado air. And with Jeff Babcock's leg and 24-of-32 accuracy back, the kicking game is an anticipated plus. Coverage units play spirited ball under Lubick, something not soon to change. And then there is the Wynn-factor. Dexter will again return as many punts as he can. His 16-plus yards-per-return will cause a repeat of 2002 - opponents kicking away from Wynn, happily settling for 30-35 yard nets instead of booming 40-plus-yarders to him. Whatever happens here equals a constant Ram field-position advantage.


Softening the blow of Cecil Sapp's graduation was the news that former CU running back, Marcus Houston, will be eligible to play for the Rams this season. Houston had two injury-riddled seasons with the Buffaloes, and with competition so stiff in Boulder, found his career would be better suited in Fort Collins. He will compete with Rahsaan Sanders and Tristan Walker for top duties this fall. The running game (as a whole) was extremely successful this spring, as CSU's top three backs averaged 7.3 yards collectively… All-MWC CB and PR Dexter Wynn worked a considerable amount of time at WR this spring. With college football veering back to two-way players, Wynn seems the right fit. Don't expect him to be a difference-maker, but he will certainly occupy attention. Russell Sprague emerged as a receiving threat and should be a key third down receiver for the Rams. He is a big, physical receiver who is an assurance beyond the sticks.

Defensive Coordinator Steve Stanard takes over for the departed Larry Kerr, who snuck off to UCLA. Stanard was pleased with what his defense showed him this spring, especially in the secondary. Safety Landon Jones had a marvelous session, setting himself up for an accolade-filled season, possibly even All-American honors before he's done. His backup, Lukas Davis also caught the eyes of the coaching staff and will factor into the defensive netting this year, as will Justin Kappeler… The defense took a punch to the stomach when they learned that Adam Wade will be ineligible for his senior season, due to grades… DT Lavell Mann was an imposing presence to backfields this spring. With linemates Goodpaster and Save acquiring attention on the left side, Mann should be allowed a strong season up front. Incoming recruit Blake Smith might suit up early at DE. He is strong and could give the Rams a gem pass-rusher.

Jeff Babcock will assumingly handle both kicking and punting chores this season, having the better camp at punter than senior Tyler Powell. The return units will be exciting, as Dexter Wynn and David Anderson bring electricity to the gridiron. Anderson reminds me a lot of former Ram, Pete Rebstock. He's a shifty, scooter-type receiver who makes his living in the open field.

NOTE: CSU's Hughes Stadium will be getting a facelift and will be renamed Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. It will be expanded by 18 percent capacity and an artificial turf will be installed. Ugh!