Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo announced Monday that senior quarterback Faton Bauta will start Saturday in the Rams' home opener vs. Texas-San Antonio.
Bauta, a graduate transfer from the University of Georgia, replaces returning starter Nick Stevens, who completed just 6 of 20 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions in CSU's 44-7 blowout loss to in-state rival Colorado on Friday. In relief of Stevens, Bauta completed 6 of 9 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown while adding 39 rushing yards on four carries.
Despite listing both Bauta and Stevens as possible starters for Saturday's game on the team's weekly depth chart, Bobo confirmed in his weekly press conference that it would be the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bauta getting the nod against the Roadrunners.
"Nick didn't play particularly well, but I did not think we gave Nick a lot of help offensively," Bobo said. "At the end of the day, he still turned the ball over and failed to make some routine plays. We've addressed it with Nick and Faton, and Faton's going to start. He gave us a little bit more energy, and the game was out of hand, but (he has) the ability to make some plays with his legs. Until we can all get on the same page, this I think will help us."
In his limited snaps, Bauta brought a spark to CSU's offense, leading them to their only touchdown drive of the game early in the fourth quarter, with his 24-yard scramble marking CSU's longest play from scrimmage in the entire game.
"What he did the other night, and his toughness," offensive coordinator Will Friend said when asked what Bauta brings to CSU's offense. "He can do a little bit of both (running and passing), and really we needed it the other night. We needed someone to step up and say, 'I'm going to compete,' and get some things going and that's what he did. Obviously we've got to convert on third downs and those type of things that help drives going and gets a little momentum going, gets a little rhythm going. He definitely came in the other night when there was a point in the game where there wasn't a lot going on. He was able to come in and kind of give us a little bit of a boost, and I think guys respect his toughness and I think the things he can do, he can run the normal offense but yet you can still kind of have a quarterback run threat and put some pressure on the defense."
During his four seasons at Georgia, where he was recruited to out of high school by Bobo, Bauta made just one start, a 27-3 loss last season to No. 11 Florida in which he completed just 15 of 33 passes for 154 yards and four interceptions. Bauta joined the Colorado State program in January after graduating from Georgia following the fall semester and had been entrenched in a quarterback competition with Stevens and true freshman Collin Hill since the beginning of spring practice. Bobo ultimately named Stevens the starter for the Colorado game, but didn't announce it in an attempt to keep CU defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt from being able to focus on one specific quarterback.
Rated as the No. 15 dual-threat in the Class of 2012 by Rivals, Bauta went to Georgia with high expectations surrounding him, but was stuck behind SEC career touchdown passes leader Aaron Murray for the first two seasons before being passed over by Hutson Mason in 2014 and Greyson Lambert in 2015.
After his decision to transfer following last season, Bauta received relatively limited interest, and was one of three quarterbacks Colorado State pursued along with Kentucky grad transfer Patrick Towles and junior college standout Richard Lagow, who opted to sign with Indiana.
InsideTheRams.com Digital Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.