Mavs ready to debut new offense tonight

Jake Cimolino steps in as the Mavericks’ starting running back position after an injury to J.R. Hamm. Cimolino and Colorado Mesa debut their spread veer offense tonight.



Robert Felberg, left, will be the key player for the Colorado Mesa offense this year as the Mavericks shift from a traditional pro style offense to a spread veer attack. Colorado Mesa opens the season tonight against Humboldt State at Stocker Stadium.



The transformation has taken place.

The Colorado Mesa University Mavericks take the field at 7 tonight against Humboldt State (Calif.) University at Stocker Stadium with a new logo and a new look.

Former offensive coordinator Jon Boyer and the complex pro style offense are gone.

New offensive coordinator Shawn Marsh and the spread veer are in.

Here’s a look at the new-look Mavs as they embrace the changes in the program and around campus.

Quarterback

The Mavericks have a quarterback in Robert Felberg who fits their offense. The spread veer offense allows Felberg (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) to make quick throws or improvise with his ability to run. He started one game at quarterback last season, then was moved to receiver and led the team in catches.

“He has grown up a ton,” Mesa coach Joe Ramunno said. “He’s fitting in to what we are doing. He’s taken the reins. It allows him to do things.”

Backing up Felberg is redshirt freshman Chris Henderson.

Running backs

Jake Cimolino (6-0, 205) reminds Ramunno a lot of Bobby Coy, who is tied for the leading rusher in school history, with his competitive spirit and determination to get every yard.

He replaces J.R. Hamm, who separated his right shoulder during camp, the second time he’s injured the shoulder, and is out for the season.

Senior Will Halboth (5-11, 215) gives the Mavericks a solid runner between the tackles. Halboth had 71 carries for 241 yards and three touchdowns last season.

“His work ethic has been phenomenal all fall,” Ramunno said.

Cimolino and Halboth are backed up by Zach Adair and Alex Zemezonak. They have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and chew up yards in the open field.

Wide receivers

Senior Tanner Whaley (6-2, 200) moved from safety and gives Felberg a tall target down the field.

Sophomore Nate Neville (6-3, 200) is a solid receiver who runs precise routes. He caught 17 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Sophomore Austin Rodriguez (5-11, 185) will see a lot more action this fall. Ramunno said he runs great routes, has great hands and makes things happen.

Behind them are Joe Steege, Jay Knaus and Dekota D’Angelo.

Offensive line

With three returning starters, the line has adjusted to the switch in offense under Bill Stafford and Phil Johnston.

Tackles Brett Minson (6-6, 285) and Trevor Stapp (6-3, 285) bring experience to the line and have the quickness to slow the pass rush.

Although starting center Austin Bennett (6-3, 280) redshirted last year, he’s tough and fits the Ramunno mold.

Sophomore Brett Boyer (6-3, 270) and Matt Mankoff (6-2, 265) are physical guards.

The backups consist of four freshmen and one redshirt freshman.

Defensive line

Junior Justin Brown (6-1, 250) moves into the starting role and will split time with redshirt freshman Cees Doxsey (6-2, 300), who will be a force against the run.

“(Brown) is extremely explosive and can get places in a hurry,” Ramunno said. “Doxsey will make an impact for us.”

Senior Connor Wright (6-1, 250) and junior Domonique Lewis (6-2, 275) have enough size to provide a pass run and stop the run.

Lewis and Wright combined to make 8.5 sacks last season.

Redshirt freshmen Tyler Funk and Jacob Massey back up Wright and Lewis.

Linebackers

Seniors Jake Bruno (6-0, 240) and Josh Andrews (6-1, 245) bring a physical presence on the inside.

They are backed up by senior Mike Garza and redshirt freshman Gene White.

Senior Chad Benkelman (6-0, 220) and sophomore Jake Edmiston (6-2, 220) are on the outside. Edmiston had 23 solo tackles and 56 total.

“They are smart guys and understand what’s going on around them,” Ramunno said. “(Edmiston) has played all over for us and is one of the best guys on the field.”

Senior Tanner Ridgway and junior Koa Asing will play a lot behind Benkelman and Edmiston.

Defensive backs

Junior Trent deBraga (6-0, 200) is back at free safety. He led the team with 28 solo tackles and 71 total tackles.

“He’s a solid football player,” Ramunno said. “He’s smart and a good technician.”

Sophomore Evan Altheide (5-9, 185) will start at strong safety.

deBraga’s brother, Trevor, will see time behind Altheide and Andrew Hurley will back up Trent deBraga.

Sophomore Mike Brady, who also punts, will start at one corner and redshirt freshman Travis McRae at the other corner.

They are backed up by freshman Jordan Price, one of the fastest players on the team, and redshirt freshman Carter Janicki.

Special teams

Kicker Caleb Pavy returns and will handle field goals and point-after attempts. Janicki is the holder.

Brady takes over punting duties and Edmiston is the long snapper.

Whaley and Trent deBraga will return kicks, with Rodriguez and deBraga returning punts.


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