Rams rev up for home opener

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Sep 162004
 
Authors: Preston Cagle

Facing a possible 0-3 start to the season, the Rams are geared

up to host No. 22 Minnesota on Saturday at Sonny Lubick Field at

Hughes Stadium. Amid one of the toughest schedule starts in its

history, CSU along with head coach Sonny Lubick, still holds a high

presence in the football world.

“Sonny Lubick; I’m really not sure if there is a guy in our

ranks, as college coaches, that would be respected more for the job

he’s done,” said Minnesota head coach Glenn Mason Tuesday at a

weekly press conference. “If you look at what he has done, he’s put

Colorado State on solid ground and has been there a long time. A

credit to him is they have renovated and named the field after him.

They will be well coached, they’ll play extremely hard and they

will be tough.”

The Rams have had a tough couple of weeks, playing on the road

at Colorado and at Southern California, and bring a 0-2 record back

home against Minnesota, who brings in wins versus Toledo and

Illinois State.

“This team is focused. We’re ready to put a win on the board,”

said senior halfback Joel Dreessen. “We’re playing in front of a

home crowd and we want to put on a show. We want to get a win.”

The Gophers won last weekend at home versus the Redbirds of

Illinois State, 37-21. Two different 100-yard rushers, junior

Marion Barber III and sophomore Laurence Maroney, led them.

Last season Barber rushed for 1,196 yards on 207 carries and had

17 touchdowns as Minnesota finished with 10 wins for the first time

since 1905. Barber is on his way to another 1,000-yard season, as

he already has 227 on 32 carries in two games. Last week versus the

Redbirds, he ran for 149 yards on 18 attempts and scored two

touchdowns.

Maroney has also pitched into the Gophers’ running game. He has

249 yards on 32 attempts with three touchdowns in two games this

season. Last week Maroney ran the ball 18 times for 141 yards and

one touchdown.

“I’m excited to go to Colorado State, but I realize it’s their

first home game. Coming off a bad loss to USC, they want to salvage

their season,” said Minnesota quarterback Brian Cupito at the press

conference. “They’re 0-2, but they’ve played two really good teams,

so we’ve got to be ready and I think we will be.”

CSU will look to rebound from last week’s game when USC

capitalized on turnovers last week to beat the Rams 49-0. This week

CSU will look to get more yards on the ground in order to open up

its offense.

“We’ve got to establish the run game for sure,” Dreessen said.

“I mean, less than 100 yards rushing in two games; That is not

Colorado State football, so we need to establish the run game.”

The Rams have totaled only 92 yards on 55 rushing attempts this

season. Last week the Rams saw a little life from the running game

in the form of junior Uldis Jaunarajs, who rushed for 74 yards on

13 carries.

“The offense has been moving the ball well in two games, but we

haven’t capitalized in the red zone like we should be,” said junior

quarterback Justin Holland. “We are much better than that. We also

need to pick up our running game, and we feel like we have been

focusing on that and it is getting better everyday.”

Holland should have better deep looks Saturday versus a

Minnesota defense that allowed 372 yards and two touchdowns on 33

attempts last week to Illinois State, but the focus will still be

on not turning the ball over after giving it away six times to

USC.

“Taking care of the ball. We had turnovers that kept us out of

the (USC) game early, and kept us from scoring drives, and it kind

of snowballed from there,” Holland said. “We need to score when we

get inside the red zone.”

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