Rams prepare for Horned Frogs

After taking two weeks off to rest and heal up after the longest regular season in school history, the Colorado State Rams returned to the practice field on December 14th to begin on-field preparations for their date with the TCU Horned Frogs in the 2002 AXA Liberty Bowl on December 31st in Memphis.

CSU, 10-3 and champions of the Mountain West Conference for the third time in four seasons, worked out for two hours on Saturday and Sunday, before taking Monday and Tuesday off for final exams. They will return to the practice fields midweek.

The status of starting quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt was still undetermined, following his arrest on misdemeanor harassment charges. Van Pelt said that police officers were wrong to arrest him after an argument outside Washington's nightclub in ‘Old Town' Fort Collins. The Mountain West Conference offensive player of the year was arrested early Dec. 13. "It wasn't me ranting and raving, pushing people, swinging punches," said Van Pelt. "It was simply a little argument out walking to my car, and I got arrested for it."

Rams Head Coach Sonny Lubick has said that he will gather all the information possible before making a determination about a punishment for Van Pelt. He participated fully in the team's first Bowl workout. "There is no news until I find out all the facts," Lubick said.

Lubick said he was pleased the initial Rams workout.

"For practicing after 14 days off, we got after it very well," said the coach of his team's practice. "We practiced hard and had a lot of contact. The players responded well."

The tenth-year coach Lubick has guided the Rams to a school-record four consecutive bowl games and seven postseason games overall during his tenure. The Rams, who are ranked in both major top 25 polls, face the 9-3 Horned Frogs, who won a share of the Conference USA title, at 1:30 p.m. MT/2:30 CT on New Year's Eve in Memphis, Tenn. It's the third time in the four-year history of the MWC that the Rams will wear the league crown into the contest.

Lubick and TCU's Gary Patterson say they know little about each other's team as they prepare for the AXA Liberty Bowl. Lubick described TCU in general terms. "I think coach Patterson was the defensive coordinator at TCU the last time we played them (a 42-21 Colorado State victory in 1998)," Lubick said. "And they were good defensively in those days." Patterson, though, knew something about the Rams. "Defensively, they are going to be real basic. They're a 4-3 team that is going to zone blitz and be very physical. They play with kids that are blue collar and like to get in your face. When you come to play Colorado State you have to be more physical than they are."

Wire service reports and CSU SID contributed to this story.

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