Sep 182003
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

Balls will fly as two of the biggest offenses go head-to-head

Saturday at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.

Ben Roethlisberger leads Miami (Ohio) in a charge against

Bradlee Van Pelt and the Rams of Colorado State (2-1).

“The fans are in for a treat: You have two of the best

quarterbacks in the country,” CSU head coach Sonny Lubick said.

“(Roethlisberger) can really throw the ball, he has experience and

is poised in the pocket.”

Van Pelt enters the game ranked No. 6 in the nation in total

offense, averaging 319.7 yards a game for an offense that is

currently fourth in the country in total offense, gaining 509 yards

per game.

Roethlisberger comes with a No. 11 ranking nationally in total

offense with a 306-yard average in the Redhawks (1-1) two games,

including a 353-yard, three touchdown passing performance last week

against Northwestern.

When fourth down situations arise for the Redhawk offense,

Roethlisberger has an unusual trick up his sleeve. When he drops

back in the shotgun, he might be looking to pass the ball to get

the first down, or he might punt the ball. Out of 12 punts in the

past two years, 10 of them have pinned their opponents inside their

own 20-yard line.

The quarterbacks won’t be the only ones making big plays on the

field as CSU looks to use its running game on a defense that is

giving up an average of 136.5 rushing yards a game.

“We are going to try and give them a balanced attack of passing

and rushing,” running back Marcus Houston said. “If the rushing

game is successful and we can get some yards on the ground, I think

it really sets the tone for the offense.”

Houston, with a 78.7-yard per game average, leads the Ram

backfield attack that averages 212.7 rushing yards a game. Fellow

running back Rahsaan Sanders will share the snaps with Houston,

looking to build on his career-high 123-yard game against Weber

State.

The Redhawks struggled to move the ball on the ground in a

54-yard rushing game in their first game – a loss to Iowa. They ran

for 147 yards last week against Northwestern, but will have a hard

time gaining those yards against a Ram defense that is only giving

up 77.3 rushing yards a game.

As far as pass defense goes, the Rams will have their work cut

out for them as Roethlisberger has multiple targets, having

completed passes to 10 different receivers this season.

“We are ready,” safety Benny Mastropaolo said. “Our secondary is

as good as it’s ever been.”

Criticized since they gave up 402 passing yards and four

receiving touchdowns against Colorado, the Rams secondary has

decreased those numbers to 248 yards against California and 133

yards against Weber State.

Quarterback pressure could be another key element in the game.

Miami (Ohio) forced 11 hurried throws and had three sacks against

Northwestern. CSU has only allowed three sacks in as many games,

but has delivered 11 to other teams.

Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday for the second of four

straight home games for the Rams. For-Ever-Green, an ASCSU

sponsored event, will hand out T-shirts to the first 2,500 students

through the doors of the stadium. The trip to Sonny Lubick Field at

Hughes Stadium will be a first for Miami (Ohio).

Capsules

Passing: Roethlisberger brings in numbers very similar to those

of Van Pelt, 306 total offensive yards compared to Van Pelt’s

319.7. Both have decent arms and talented wide receivers. Van Pelt

has one-up on his counterpart with one more year of experience and

a home crowd behind him. Roethlisberger does have a three-inch,

20-pound size advantage, but Van Pelt’s ability to run for 46.7

yards a game gives him just enough yards to be more successful.

Advantage: Rams

Running: Miami’s trio of Cal Murray, Luke Clemens, and Mike

Smith have only put up 184 yards total, but 21 of the team’s 44

points against Northwestern came on the ground. They may not rush

for long gains, but have the ability to put it in, in the red

zone.

Rahsaan Sanders got 123 yards last week and is starting to find

his grove in the backfield. Sanders’ average of 60.3 yards per game

along with Marcus Houston’s 78.7 will be more ground power than

Miami can handle.

Advantage: Rams

Defense: Miami’s defense is only giving up 337.5 yards a game

which Bradlee Van Pelt is almost out-doing single handedly. CSU

gives up an average of 338.3 yards a game, which is also a number

that Roesthlisberger could pass by himself. The Rams have a better

run-stopping defense, but the Redhawks have a stronger

secondary.

Advantage: Even

Special Teams: Miami’s return man, Korey Kirkpatrick, is out

with an injury and place kicker Jared Parseghian is out as well.

Inexperience in those positions gives the advantage to CSU as Jeff

Babcock is proving to be more consistent and Dexter Wynn and Dave

Anderson are having great seasons returning kick-offs and

punts.

Advantage: Rams

 

 

 

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