Despite a Nick Stevens-to-Olabisi Johnson touchdown on the final play to give the offense a 43-40 victory, it was Colorado State's defense that came to play during Saturday afternoon's Green and Gold Spring Game at Lagoon Field.
Mike Bobo raved about the play of his first-team defense in a scrimmage that used modified scoring.
"I'm really proud of the No. 1 defense," Bobo said, referencing the three interceptions of Nick Stevens. "Those were their first turnovers in any live situation. They contested well and guys made some tough catches."
Jake Schlager got the defense going with a red zone interception of Stevens early in the first quarter. Schlager, one of just four safeties getting work toward the end of spring ball, spoke to how his group was still able to build depth over the last five weeks.
Said Schlager: "We were very limited in numbers, not just at the safety position. We built depth this spring and it makes you feel really good going into the summer knowing that you have some guys who didn't get a whole lot of reps last year and wouldn't get a whole lot reps if other people weren't playing that did get a lot of reps this spring. It's nice to know we have depth underneath us in case we ever need that."
While Bobo praised the job of his defense, he also called out the lackluster performance of his offense.
"They (the defense) challenged the offense and quite frankly, I didn't think the offense came out with the energy they needed to come out to establish themselves as a dominant offense," Bobo said.
Stevens, who had a much better second half than first, echoed what his coach had to say.
"I think the defense did a really good job of coming out with energy and that was energy we lacked," Stevens said. "They capitalized when we made mistakes."
In addition to getting picked by Schlager, Stevens also saw Jamal Hicks and Josh Watson come away with interceptions. The takeaways were welcomed by Bobo, however, the third-year CSU coach knows that there's a long way to go on that side of the ball.
"We're a work in progress defensively," Bobo said. "We've got to continue to work. The concern of mine is depth. So we've got to improve our depth with the guys we have here and I think the freshmen we signed will play a big part in our season next year."
Bobo confirmed postgame that Collin Hill should be ready to go for fall camp. Hill continues to recover from his season-ending ACL injury.
Rashaad Boddie got plenty of work in the Spring Game as he spelled veterans Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews. The 6-foot, 225-pounder showcased his power running ability on several carries.
Though he can't suit up in 2017, Preston Williams made CSU fans gush over his size and skillset. After one catch, he bulldozed his way through a pair of defenders, galloping down the sideline for a near touchdown.
With Dalton Fackrell out for much of the spring, freshman Griffin Hammer got plenty of playing time Saturday. The 6-4, 222-pounder from Illinois is part of the reason why Bobo expects so much from his tight ends in 2017.
The Rams will put their focus on final exams and conditioning over the next handful of weeks. Regular season play kicks off in about four months when CSU welcomes Oregon State to the new on-campus stadium.