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CSU QB Patrick O’Brien opens up on his inner Gardner Minshew, and playing CU Buffs with no fans


Patrick O’Brien spent two months of quarantine releasing his inner Gardner Minshew. All over his upper lip.

“It just kind of turned into a ‘can-I-actually-do-it’ kind of thing,” Colorado State’s senior quarterback said with a grin as he greeted reporters on a media video conference call Wednesday sporting a new mustache. “And then I realized quickly that I can do it.

“I’m proud of myself that I’m actually able to grow some facial hair….Had to do something to spice up life.”

When not styling his new look, the Rams signal-caller has been throwing and lifting weights near his home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., south of Los Angeles. He basically got stuck at home during spring break after the spread of the coronavirus cut off interstate travel. He is itching to return to Fort Collins.

“I’ve been in California too long,” said O’Brien, the Nebraska Cornhuskers transfer who finished third in the Mountain West Conference last fall in passing efficiency (140.0), fourth in passing yards (2,803) and first in yards per pass attempt (8.3). “I’m ready to come back and play football and see the guys.”

While O’Brien has been getting loose at home, Rams linebacker Dequan Jackson has been working out in his native Florida. Both told reporters on Wednesday that they plan to return to Fort Collins in June. O’Brien hasn’t had a chance to connect with his top target, 6-foot-6 wideout Warren Jackson, since spring practice was canceled in early March once COVID-19 concerns closed the CSU campus.

“(Having some spring practice was) huge, because we were able to run the schemes that we’re putting in against each other with pads on, and actually tackling and all that stuff,” O’Brien said. “So coming into the fall, everyone kind of has a grasp on what we’re trying to do as a team, what plays we’re trying to run and stuff. (I) definitely wanted those extra seven-eight practices (to finish the spring) but we’ll work with whatever we’ve got and when we come back, we’ll be ready to go.”

Meanwhile, closer to his hometown, Mountain West peers such as Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State are planning to hold classes primarily online next fall, putting those institutions’ football programs at risk of not playing in 2020. The Rams are slated to host Fresno State on Oct. 3 and visit San Diego State on Nov. 7.

“I saw the other day that the NBA teams are going to start opening up (in California),” O’Brien said. “I think eventually the California schools will eventually play. But if they can’t, I think those games will be replaced with a team that can. I don’t see California schools holding back other teams that are playing.”

But COVID-19 could hold back colleges from allowing fans to attend, even if games wind up being played as scheduled. While having a Rocky Mountain Showdown with CU on Sept. 5 at Canvas Stadium without fans is better than no Rocky Mountain Showdown at all, O’Brien figures it could also suck a lot of juice from the game itself.

“I think (no fans) takes away a lot,” O’Brien said. “The fans really make college football what it is, (along with) traditions. So to not have them there would be terrible.”

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