Rams hurting for a win

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Oct 022003
 
Authors: Steve Latuda

Before the Mountain West Conference was even a thought, Colorado

State and Fresno State met five times as conference foes in the

Western Athletic Conference. Now it is one of the bigger

non-conference games each year for both teams.

The Bulldogs lead the series 5-4, including victories in the

last three meetings. Fresno State is just 1-3 all-time against the

Rams in Fort Collins, but the last time these two teams met at

Hughes Stadium, the result was a classic 25-22 overtime victory by

the Bulldogs. Last year, Fresno State upset then-No. 22 Colorado

State 32-30.

“I think if you are going to draw a line in the sand and say

you’ve got to make a statement, this is the week they are going to

do it,” said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. “We know we are

going to be in a very, very tough football game.

“The last two games with Colorado State have been big-time

football games. I think we are going to see a very physical game. I

expect we’ll see Colorado State’s best performance of the year. We

are going to have go in there and play very, very well to win this

game.”

The time is now for the Rams to turn around their grim season,

in which the Rams were once ranked in the Top 25.

“CSU had some rotten luck last week,” said Air Force head coach

Fisher DeBerry. “They will be a team that everybody will have to

reckon with.”

For that to happen, the Rams will need to go back to effectively

running the ball and not turning it over when they do. Both Marcus

Houston and Rahsaan Sanders have looked good at times, but lately

they have been finding it rather tough to consistently gain yards

and keep the ball secure. Whether Sanders will play, after

sustaining a hip injury in last week’s conference loss to Utah,

will be a game-time decision. So the job of collecting yards on the

ground this week will also be put on the shoulders of sophomore

tailback Uldis Jaunarajs and junior Jimmy Green.

The injury bug has taken a bite out of more than just Sanders.

Senior linebacker Eric Pauly, the team leader in tackles, will be

out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Pauly’s injury

came when he was chop-blocked by a Utah receiver. Coach Sonny

Lubick is not happy about what occurred.

“It is going to be difficult playing without him,” Lubick said.

“Utah’s receiver made a play that he shouldn’t have.”

Other injuries of note for the Rams are H-Back Joel Dreessen,

who will likely miss his second game in a row with an abdominal

strain, and linebacker Jahmal Hall, who has a shoulder injury.

Not only are the running backs having trouble securing the rock,

but so is star quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt.

Van Pelt’s recent turnover troubles resulted in him being

benched last week in favor of redshirt sophomore Justin Holland.

Van Pelt did, however, return to finish the game.

“I was angry as a competitor that I put myself in that

situation,” he said.

The opposite seems to be true for the Bulldogs. Star quarterback

Paul Pinegar, last year’s WAC Freshman of the Year, will probably

return from a torn chest muscle this week and see his first action

of the year.

“I feel I’m ready,” Pinegar said. “I should get in a couple of

series in this week.”

No one on the field will benefit more from Pinegar’s return than

All-American wide receiver Bernard Berrian.

Berrian will be the biggest threat to the Rams on Saturday. This

year Berrian has not been dominitating, but he has been effective.

He has caught 20 balls for 219 yards and two touchdowns and has at

least one reception in 28 consecutive games. His biggest game came

in Fresno’s upset of then-ranked Oregon State 16-14. In that game,

he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass, which turned the tide in the

Bulldogs’ favor.

“We can’t change all of our defense, but we might try to double

him up,” Lubick said. “Fifteen to 20 percent of the time we will

try to keep him doubled.”

While defending the pass, the Rams also have to watch out for

the ground attack of the Bulldogs – for they have found a solid

running back.

Sophomore Dwayne Wright has added some punch to the Bulldog

running game. Wright has had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games,

including 113 yards in last week’s 42-16 victory over Portland

State.

This week’s Homecoming game is set for 1 p.m. and will be the

last of four straight that the Rams have played at home. They are

1-2 in that stint.

 

 

 

 

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