Following the game, Grayson told reporters head coach Jim McElwain disclosed he would start on Friday, and for the junior to keep it secret until gametime.
In the contest, Grayson played so-so; at times he missed receivers by throwing high and he also made some poor decisions like taking an 18-yard loss on a sack instead of throwing the ball out of bounds. Another mistake came when he checked down to hit running back Kapri Bibbs on a one-yard gain when the Rams needed to convert a crucial 4th-and-two late in the game. His 5.14 yards per attempt were far too low, as he went 21-39 for 201 yards on the day, failing to pass for a touchdown.
That's not to say everything he did was bad; Grayson threw arguably the most beautiful pass of his career, hitting Joe Hansley in stride for 40 yards in the first quarter and he picked up some valuable yards on the ground as well.
Still, his play was not enough to convert important third downs – the team went 2-14 on those plays – let alone propel his team to a victory.
“He would like to have a couple of the plays back, but I thought he managed it pretty well. I really did,” McElwain said of Grayson's performance. “He made a couple of plays with his feet, but we didn't probably push the ball down the field enough to be honest. There were some things in there that we didn't take advantage of. Everything was horizontal today, so that's something we need to look at. He did alright.”
“We've just got to make plays, that's really all there is to it,” Grayson explained after the game. “We had guys open, I was missing them. We were dropping balls, you know. There weren't a lot of passes going through. I have to be more accurate and make plays.”
For a junior quarterback, someone that McElwain expects to lead this offense and team, it speaks volumes that Grayson would own up to making mistakes in the game that cost his squad.
That leadership goes a long way in earning the respect of both teammates and coaches; now he's got to step up on the field. Decision-making needs to come quicker, which includes progressing through reads to find open receivers. And he's got to know when to take off and run instead of taking a sack.
True freshman Nick Stevens is nipping at Grayson's heels and McElwain said he was ready to go if needed as the Rams' No. 2 QB.
If Grayson can't get the job done, Stevens – or possibly Conner Smith – will come in to play sooner rather than later for Colorado State.
Coach Mac noted that he needed to look at the game film before being sure, but that Grayson will likely be the starter heading into this week's contest against the Tulsa Drillers.
CSU plays in Tulsa, Oklahoma on a short week, at 5 p.m. MT on Saturday. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
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