Sep 232004
 
Authors: Jon Pilsner

Coming off one of the toughest opening schedules in school

history, the 0-3 Rams get a break this weekend, hosting Division

I-AA Montana State at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

A number of the Rams’ woes this season have been from the

offense, including quarterback Justin Holland and the running

game’s struggles. This season, the Rams have run for only 218 yards

in their first three games, averaging only 72 yards per game.

The inability to run the football has forced the offense to pass

more, and while Holland is averaging 311 yards a game throwing, he

has thrown eight interceptions.

“He’s frustrated. He’s just making mental mistakes,” said

offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Hammerschmidt.

“Hopefully we can help him out with that.”

Hammerschmidt said the staff worked with Holland this week on

his decision-making, knowing when he should try to force a pass and

when he shouldn’t and moving more.

“He’s going to have to move,” Hammerschmidt said. “We’re going

to try to get him out of the pocket and throwing on the run.”

The focus has also been on helping Holland throw fewer

interceptions.

“We want him to check it to the back when he gets into trouble,”

Hammerschmidt said. “He’s not going to run the ball up the field,

but scramble out of the pocket and try to make something happen

without turning the ball over.”

Holland said he is trying to get back to basics.

“I’ve gotten a little away from that,” Holland said. “But we’ve

had some big plays; we’re just working on making some more of

them.”

In an effort to increase scoring, the offense has focused on

ending drives with touchdowns this week, instead of settling for

field goals.

“We’ve done a lot of red zone work this week,” Holland said. “We

need to get it into the end zone.”

Hammerschmidt said the team was also working on starting games

with more intensity. This season, the Rams have yet to gain a first

down on a game-opening drive.

“Those are scripted plays; some of the scripts are bad,”

Hammerschmidt said. “We need to get the ground game up and going

and make those plays work. We should know what the heck we’re

doing.”

Junior running back Uldis Jaunarajs will start again this week

for the Rams, becoming the first back to start twice this season.

Senior Marcus Houston started at Colorado, and sophomore Tristan

Walker was the starter against Southern California.

Jaunarajs said the offense was positive and that the team was

ready for this weekend’s game against MSU.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Jaunarajs said.

“We’re working on making big plays happen.”

The Rams, looking for their first win of the season, will take

on a MSU team that won seven games last year and went 5-2 in Big

Sky Conference play. MSU quarterback Travis Lulay threw for more

than 2,000 yards the last two seasons and the Bobcats defense was

the best in the Big Sky last season.

The Bobcats are 1-1 this season, having lost to Cal-Poly 27-14

last week.

“We’re looking forward to this game,” Holland said. “We really

want to win right now.”

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