Familiar face to lead Rams into T-town Saturday
Colorado State? Not exactly a household name for Alabama football fans. Heck, Alabama and Colorado State have never even met on the gridiron.
That one probably rings a bell.
McElwain, Alabama’s offensive coordinator under Nick Saban from 2008-2011, took over the Colorado State program last year — guiding them to a 4-8 record — and will bring his Rams to Tuscaloosa this Saturday to take on his former team.
While a lot may not be known around here about a middle-of-the-pack Mountain West Conference team, McElwain’s former boss knows enough about him to know that he’ll be bringing a quality opponent to town this weekend.
“I think Jim McElwain’s done a fabulous job there,” Saban said Monday. “He obviously did a fantastic job for us here for four years. He’s a very bright guy, brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm and affects players in a positive way, and I think he’s gotten the most out of his team and the players that he has.
“They had a big win (last week) and in both of their other two games — against Colorado and Tulsa — they were still in it going into the fourth quarter, which says that the team is always very well prepared and does a really good job of executing in the game. I’m very impressed.”
Colorado State lost 41-27 to rival Colorado in the season-opener before dropping a 30-27 decision at Tulsa the following. Last Saturday, the Rams beat Cal Poly 34-17.
Offensively, the Rams are led by 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior quarterback Garrett Grayson, who has thrown for 606 yards and four touchdowns in three games. He’s also thrown a pair of picks. Chris Nwoke (236 yards, 1 TD) and Kapri Bibbs (197 yards, 3 Tds) pace the running game, while Jordon Vaden (8 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD) and Rashard Higgins (9 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD) are Grayson’s primary targets.
Defensively, the Rams are yielding 434.3 yards per game, which ranks 93rd nationally.
“They have a good quarterback, they got a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball and they don‘t make a lot of mistakes,” Saban said of Colorado State. “I think is a very good team, a very challenging team and certainly something we’re looking forward to.”
Another thing Saban and the rest of the Crimson Tide are looking forward to is playing at home. They haven’t done it yet this season. The Tide played Virginia Tech at a neutral site (Atlanta) in the season-opener and played at Texas A&M last week. Alabama had a rare week two open date in between.
“I don’t ever remember it being September 21, having been practicing seven or eight weeks and not having played a home game yet,” Saban said. “So we’re all kind of looking forward to that.”
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