Last Stand at Hughes

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Nov 132003
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

In its last home game of the season, CSU will host Mountain West

Conference opponent San Diego State in a contest that features two

teams with identical records. Both stand at 5-5 overall and 2-3 in

conference, but the Aztecs are riding a two-game winning streak

while the Rams have fallen in two consecutive heartbreakers.

The game marks the last appearance at Hughes Stadium for 24 Ram

seniors, who will be honored before the game. Atop the list of

departing seniors is quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, whose lone goal

is to come out with a victory.

“There would be no better way in my eyes than to end our home

season with a win,” Van Pelt said. “(The season) hasn’t gone as

planned, but we still have a lot to fight for. It’s my last home

game and my family will be there and I can’t ask for anything

better.”

It was the game against San Diego State in 2001 in which Van

Pelt earned his starting job and he has carried the Rams ever

since. CSU beat the Aztecs last year, but San Diego State has beat

CSU in the last two meetings at Hughes.

“It seems like every team in the Mountain West has come in fired

up to knock us off. You can guarantee that this team has a lot to

fight for,” Van Pelt said. “They have good players and a good team.

We have to rise to the occasion and look them in the eyes and let

them know we aren’t scared.”

San Diego State’s defense is first in conference in yards per

game with 286.7. Linebacker Kirk Morrison is second in the MWC in

tackles, averaging 9.8 a game.

“San Diego State has a great defense. I think all-around, they

are the best defense in the league,” head coach Sonny Lubick said

in a press release. “They are very consistent. They fly to the

ball.”

The Aztecs will have to try to stop the conference’s top

offensive team, as the Rams average 459.8 yards a game. Van Pelt

has generated most of those yards, averaging 239.2 yards in the air

and 72.9 on the ground.

“Obviously we aren’t going to stop Bradlee Van Pelt,” San Diego

State head coach Tom Craft said. “He is the best athlete in the

conference and we are just going to try and contain him.”

The Aztec offense took multiple hits last week, but the loss of

freshman running back Lynell Hamilton hit them the hardest.

Hamilton, who has 1,087 yards on the year and averages 108.7 yards

a game, ended his season when a high ankle sprain snapped his leg

in two places.

Starting quarterback Adam Hall suffered ligament damage in his

ankle and the Aztecs’ leading wide receiver, Jeff Webb, sprained

his shoulder and might have ligament damage. The status of both

players is questionable and will be determined at game time.

Senior linebacker Drew Wood leads the Ram defense and hopes to

have a good time in his last home appearance.

“We just want to go out and have fun,” Wood said. “For a lot of

the games, maybe that is a little bit of the fire that has been

missing. We were too worried about messing up and we just need to

go have fun. It is my last time in front of the home crowd. I am

sure it is going to be emotional, but hopefully I can get through

it and play the game.”

Wide receiver Chris Pittman is another Ram who will step on

Sonny Lubick Field for the last time on Saturday.

“I am looking forward to it. It is my last game at Hughes,”

Pittman said. “We are going to come out and play not only for

self-pride, but for everyone that cares about Ram football. Our

team is thirsty for a win right now.”

Passing:

Aztec quarterback Adam Hall remains questionable along with his

top receiver Jeff Webb. Even if substitutions don’t have to be

made, the two don’t compare to CSU. Rams’ quarterback Bradlee Van

Pelt leads the MWC in total yards and the Rams’ offense leads the

MWC in total yards as well. In addition to his usual reliable

targets of David Anderson and Chris Pittman, Van Pelt will also

have more opportunities to include tight end Joel Dressen who

should see more action.

Advantage: Rams

Rushing: Running backs Michael Franklin and DeAngelo Nedd will

try to fill the gap left by Lynell Hamilton, but they don’t have

experience on their side. Franklin is expected to take most of the

snaps and has carried the ball 39 times, averaging 3.7 yards a rush

and 14.4 yards a game. Nedd has only 11 carries, but is averages

7.9 yards per carry. Ram runners Marcus Houston and Rashaan Sanders

have combined to average 102.2 yards a game. Alongside the 72.9

yards a game Van Pelt averages, CSU has a solid running game.

Advantage: Rams

Defense:

San Diego State is the best team at stopping offenses in the

conference. They have staged two shutouts this season including in

last week’s 7-0 victory over UNLV. The Rams rank seventh in the

eight-team conference on defense, allowing 376.2 yards a game. They

have had trouble stopping teams consistently this season.

Advantage: Aztecs

Special Teams:

San Diego State is last in punt returns averaging 8.1 yards and

second to last in kick returns in the conference averaging 17.4

yards, while CSU’s Dexter Wynn leads the MWC in punt and kick

returns averaging 14.6 and 28.1 yards respectively. Punting is

fairly equal with Jeff Babcock averaging 41.9 yards a punt and Seth

Santoro averaging 42.1 yards. Babcock has made 75 percent of his

field goals and Aztec J.C. Mejia has completed 71.4 percent of

his.

Advantage: Rams

Our Pick:

CSU 24 SDSU 14 The Ram’s offense is stronger, but could still

struggle against San Diego’s defense. With all of the Aztecs

injuries, they won’t be able to get their offense going.

 

 

 

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