July 25, 2011
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The star arms and the glory guys of the Mountain West huddles have been identified and marketed. We give you, in order: 1- Boise State's Kellen Moore; 2- San Diego State's Ryan Lindley. These golden arms are beyond good.
But Lobo fans will get an early glimpse of a quarterback, who has been identified as one of the rising stars of the conference and who just might take a few giant steps up in 2011.
Of course, all Lobos will be hoping that Colorado State's Pete Thomas opens the 2011 season with a big tumble come Sept. 3 when Thomas leads the Rams into University Stadium.
All Lobos should have vile memories of Thomas and what he helped do to the Lobos last season in Fort Collins, Colo., in CSU's 38-14 victory. The Rams' rookie looked anything but "rookie" when he completed 17-of-25 passes and hit ten different receivers for 256 yards.
Of course, Thomas really didn't look like a true freshman much of the 2010 season. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,662 yards. He was the only true freshman to start every game for his team in 2010.
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Thomas also threw out the No. 3 season in total yards ever posted by a Mountain West freshman. The two MW freshmen to best him were TCU's Andy Dalton and SDSU's Lindley. That's pretty good company.
Thomas, out of the San Diego area, is a big catch for CSU and a key to the 2011 season the Rams hope will end with a bowl bid. The Lobos are looking to splash the same ending onto their season.
The Sept. 3 game is a huge one. There really are no season openers more impactful than the one UNM and CSU will war in University Stadium.
A key for the Lobos in this contest will be to put more pressure on Thomas than what the Lobos did in Fort Collins. In that UNM loss, Thomas was poised, confident and not pressured much in the pocket.
UNM's change in defensive philosophy could change that. The Lobos have gone to a more aggressive attack up front and will be forcing offensive linemen to adjust to quick penetration by Lobo defensive linemen.
The good news for Thomas concerning the change in UNM's attack mode is that he returns four of his five starting lineup from 2010 and CSU expects to throw out a better run game in 2011.
The run game UNM saw in CSU wasn't bad. The Rams bulled for 328 rushing yards which helped them roll to a 31-0 halftime lead. It really was an easy day for Thomas.
CSU is looking at senior Raymond Carter and sophomore Chris Nwoke to do most of the ground work this season. The Rams lost Mason Leonard, who ran for 124 yards last year vs. UNM.
The Rams offense behind Thomas and an experienced O-line should be CSU's strength this year. A huge key is getting the CSU defense to step up. The Rams have as stud linebacker in Mychal Sisson, but that unit was gosh-awful on third-down stops, allowing 54.6 percent of them to be turned into first downs.
The Rams have question marks throughout their defense, but there is no question that Thomas is a rising star in the Mountain West.
Lobo fans just need to hope that Thomas doesn't make any forward progress until Sept. 10 when Northern Colorado visits CSU.