In good hands

McRae, Price a solid duo in Mavs' defensive backfield

Jordan Price led the Mavs in pass breakups last season, with 15, and has five so far this season for Colorado Mesa.



In addition to playing at cornerback for Colorado Mesa, Travis McRae is seeing time at safety and already has a many tackles as last season.



QUICKREAD

Fort Lewis (0-5, 0-4) at Colorado Mesa (2-4, 2-2)

Saturday, 6 p.m., Stocker Stadium

Radio: 1230-AM (KEXO), 99-9-FM (KEKB)

The Coaches

Fort Lewis — Cesar Rivas-Sandoval, third season, 6-20. Colorado Mesa — Russ Martin, first season, 2-4.

Last Week

Colorado Mines threw five touchdown passes in a 58-16 victory over Fort Lewis in Durango; Colorado Mesa scored 24 unanswered points in a 31-14 victory over Western New Mexico in Silver City, N.M.

Series History

Colorado Mesa has won the past five meetings and leads the overall series 27-10-1.

Players to Watch

Fort Lewis

QB Tim Jenkins is third in the RMAC with 330 passing yards per game; WR Doyle Bode has 30 catches for 75.8 yards per game; LB Phil O’Dell leads the Skyhawks with 8.4 tackles per game.

Colorado Mesa

RB Jake Cimolino is eighth in the nation with 136.2 yards rushing per game; LB Jake Edmiston is sixth in the nation with 11.8 tackles per game; Kick returner Trent deBraga has 16 kick returns for 415 yards, including a long of 70 yards.

Injury Report

WR Nate Neville (shoulder) joined the list of players out with an injury this week and is likely out for the season. RB Thomas Sua (neck) is out and remains questionable for the remainder of the season. DE Dane Amacher (knee) and LB Clint Imlay are out. DE Domonique Lewis and LB Sean Dorrance will return after missing several weeks with hamstring injuries.

Coach Martin says

About Fort Lewis:

“Fort Lewis is well-coached and sound in what they do. We’ve got to make them drive the field and make mistakes. We want to make them as one-dimensional as possible.”

On Fort Lewis QB Tim Jenkins:

“Tim Jenkins is an extremely good quarterback. He may be the best quarterback in the conference. If he gets hot, he is really good. He understands blitzes and can get rid of it.”

Martin on the Skyhawks’ defense:

“Coach (Ed) Rifilato may come up with something different for us.”

Martin on LB Phil O’Dell:

“He’s an active player for them. They do a lot with their defensive line in movement. He is very good at finding the football. He’s a good, smart player.”

About the Mavericks’ approach on offense:

“We want to continue running the ball and set up our play-action. That’s what we want to specialize in. That’s where you can hit some of the bigger plays. It comes with the standpoint of the running aspect. There is a lot of versions to it. If we can get to that point, it’s a tremendous combination.”

Game Notes

■ Colorado Mesa is looking for its first home win of the season. The Mavericks are 1-6 in their past seven home games.

■ Fort Lewis is looking for its first road win of the season. The Skyhawks are 2-6 in their past eight road games.

■ Fort Lewis has two Mesa County School District 51 graduates in defensive backs Mike Campbell (Fruita Monument) and Tim Muhovich (Central). Campbell is projected to start.

■ Redshirt freshmen Deke Cisco took snaps at wide receiver this week and could line up at receiver Saturday.

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They were thrown into the fire last season and have emerged as dependable players and friends.

Sophomore defensive backs Travis McRae and Jordan Price have started a combined 29 games for the Colorado Mesa University football team.

“Jordan and Travis are playing well,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “They come to compete. They compete hard every single down. Those two guys will get better every single week. Their best football is way ahead of them.”

McRae came to Mesa in 2010 and redshirted his first year, then earned a starting cornerback spot for the season opener in 2011.

“Last year, we opened against Humboldt, which had probably some of the better receivers we saw in the season,” McRae said. “It was an eye-opener because of the speed and tempo. It progressively got better throughout the season. We took it day by day and worked on what we needed to work on.”

McRae has started every game for the Mavericks except one last season when he was out with a concussion. He had four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.

He moved to safety two weeks ago against New Mexico Highlands and played safety last week, but he remains listed as a starting cornerback.

McRae is looking for his first interception this season, but he already has as many tackles this season as he did all of last year.

“Travis is actually better suited as a safety, but has given us quality playing time at corner,” Martin said. “In a way, he’s more physical than most corners. He’s playing very solid and well there. He’s also played some at safety. He’s a very versatile player.”

Price was a late addition to the Mavericks last season when his SAT score caused the University of Missouri to rescind a full-ride scholarship. Instead of redshirting at Missouri, Price ended up playing as a freshman at Mesa.

“It was overwhelming, but it was actually great,” he said. “It was a different system, but the high school I came from in Texas, kids are already pretty big.

“My coaches last year encouraged me. They said, ‘You know you’re good. Go out there and play with a high confidence and do your business.’ Everybody has your back if you get beat. Just be like a fish and forget about it.”

Price got his first start in the fourth game of the 2011 season against New Mexico Highlands and has started every game since.

“I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous,” he said of his first start. “I had butterflies. I’ve got to do this. After the second half, I calmed down. I felt I did very good in that game.”

Price started seven games last season, intercepting two passes, and he led the team with 15 pass breakups. He earned the RMAC defensive freshman of the year award.

“I wish I could’ve got a couple more picks, but I was happy with the outcome (for the season),” he said.

Price intercepted his first pass of 2012 last week against Western New Mexico and has five pass breakups this season.

“This year, Coach (Todd) Auer wants me to be more about the team,” Price said. “That’s why I don’t have more picks. I’m staying deep and doing my job.”

Price, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, and McRae, from South Jordan, Utah, have matured together and have seen their friendship grow as a result. They share a residence with defensive backs Michael Brady and Tyler Winder.

“Every Sunday, there’s an argument in the house,” Price said. “When the Cowboys are playing, (McRae) is in my ear telling me (Tony) Romo is so sorry. When the Broncos are on, I’m back in his ear.

“It’s a fun house. I love our house. Travis and I have built a big friendship.”

They’ve developed a friendly competition with each other.

“We give each other a hard time, but we’re sure to say we need to work on this,” McRae said. “We’re good critics of each other. That’s the best way to put it.”


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