The top of the quarterback depth chart for Colorado State will almost definitely look the same this year as it did during the majority of 2019 as Patrick O’Brien returns to lead the Rams after starting the team’s final nine games.
He completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,803 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions a year ago.
Though spring camp was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, new head coach Steve Addazio sounded pleased last winter with the redshirt senior’s efforts to digest the new regime’s basic philosophies.
“Pat has grown every day since we’ve been here, grown with his intensity and everything about him,” Addazio said. “I’ve been very pleased.”
O’Brien’s chemistry with the Rams’ receivers should help.
“I’ve played with Warren (Jackson), I’ve played with Nate (Craig-Myers), I’ve played with E.J. (Scott), I’ve played with Dante (Wright),” O’Brien said in May. “We already understand each other. I think after a couple weeks of practice, (chemistry) won’t be too big of an issue because we all understand how we work amongst each other.”
Still, O’Brien has a lot to work on to become a reliable, consistent asset. His lack of pocket awareness was a problem at times.
That was made apparent when Air Force sacked him eight times. He often stepped into pressure and at times didn’t see defenders approaching him as he locked into his receivers.
Rightfully, O’Brien relies on his powerful arm to move the sticks –– which represents a solid foundation for the quarterback. Now, if he can just couple his ability to effectively air the ball out with enhanced pocket navigation and refined vision, fans will likely see a more consistent player.
As for backups, former Temple quarterback Todd Centeio could prove to be a great addition. Without Centeio in the mix, the only scholarship arm in the race behind O’Brien would be Justice McCoy –– who never applied pressure to O’Brien’s job despite multiple “open competitions” between the two for starting duties last year.
In 10 games last season, Centeio — an immediately eligible graduate transfer — completed 34 of 51 attempts for 444 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 155 yards on 47 carries.
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