Spring football at Colorado State University-Pueblo is almost always about the defense.
Under sunny skies Sunday at the Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, the offense dominated in the annual Red-Blue spring game. It was the first time in three tries that the offense was ahead of the defense after 15 spring practices.
"One unit was really ready to play and the other one wasn't," ThunderWolves head coach John Wristen said. "Once we challenged the defense, they got better. But we saw some good things out of the offense right away, which hasn't been the case for the past couple of years."
In the hotly contested battle at quarterback, junior college transfer Ross Dausin took a big step forward with his performance Sunday. He threw two touchdown passes, ran for another and led the first-team offense on a fourth scoring drive.
"It's hard to get a lot of reps in during just 15 practices so you have to make the most of your chances," said the 6-foot-5 transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College. "It's been a battle every day in practice. I've been (enrolled) in school since January and I had an idea of what we were trying to do, but until you get on the field in game situations, you're not 100 percent sure. I'm confident in my abilities, but I know they're not going to just hand me the job."
Dausin connected with the small (5-foot-5), but speedy (top-10 on the team) Justin McCash for a 54-yard touchdown pass late in the first half. That followed a 50-yard field goal by incumbent kicker Kyle Major.
Dausin also scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper and then found tailback Marquise Enoch on a 4-yard screen pass that ended in a touchdown.
Reserve running back Dominique Harris scored on a 3-yard run and Major also kicked a 37-yard field goal.
"Well, we walked out of it with no major injuries and that's your primary goal with a spring game," Wristen said. "There were some areas that we focused on this spring, like quarterback, receiver and the secondary, and we got out of the spring what we wanted to."
The scoring system used in the spring game definitely favored the offense. But a scoreboard wasn't needed to illuminate the team's defensive deficiencies. Coordinator Hunter Hughes actually had to call a time-out to chew out his unit.
"That was the most disappointing part of the whole day," Hughes said. "We've got to be ready to play all the time. We've been able to do pretty much what we wanted to this spring and we thought we could just show up and play. We thought it was going to be easy.
"We're not good enough to just show up."
Both of those came after Hughes' spirited pep talk.
"I'm not worried about the defense," Wristen said. "Hunter didn't call any blitzes and they will be up to speed by the first game."
Joe Pannunzio Outstanding Leadership Award: TE Koby Wittek
Craig Ward Outstanding Lineman Award: Garrett Martin-Proctor
Dan DeRose Outstanding Inside LB Award: Damon Schiele
Mark DeRose Outstanding Outside LB Award: Jason Campbell
Scott Elizondo Top Student-Athlete Award: LB Lee Meisner
Bob Rawlings Most Improved Player Award: LB Beldy Nseka
Corey Tolle Outstanding Teammate Award: Grant Jansen
Herman Heard Outstanding RB Award: Jesse Lewis
John Trahan Outstanding WR Award: Derek Gainey
Billy Baker Outstanding DB Award: Chris Brown