Rams too little too late

Oct 162005
Authors: Brett Okamoto

Digging a hole is easy. Climbing out of one is another story.

And so it was on Saturday night, in the hostile environment of Provo, Utah, that the Rams found themselves down 17-0 to BYU after the first half. Don't let the score fool you, the game wasn't that close.

For 30 minutes the Rams looked like a scared group of refugees, far removed from their comfort zone of Hughes Stadium. An offensive line that allowed the second fewest sacks in the nation coming into the game was being overpowered by BYU blitz schemes.

The No. 1 running back in the Mountain West Conference, sophomore Kyle Bell, ran for 15 yards. Seven penalties for 45 yards had killed two scoring drives.

"In the first part of the game we didn't play with much composure," said head coach Sonny Lubick.

For the first time since playing the University of Southern California last year, the Rams had no points to show after a first half's worth of effort. Their only scoring opportunity, a 43-yard field goal attempt, missed wide left.

"That's three games we've failed to get things going in the first half," said offensive lineman Mike Brisiel. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot."

Failure to get their star running back involved in the game, Bell had only four carries in the first half, forced CSU to turn to their passing attack more than they had during their recent three-game winning streak at home.

Senior quarterback Justin Holland stepped up to the challenge throwing for two touchdowns and 281 yards with no interceptions. The only problem is that it was too little too late, as both touchdowns came midway through the second half.

"Early penalties, one missed field goal – those are the types of things that are drive killers," Holland said.

The Rams came out a new team in the second half and, with a little luck from a fumble recovery and a penalty on BYU, rallied back to a score of 17-14 with the better part of the fourth quarter to go.

The Cougars' offense, which accumulated 23 first downs, responded by marching down the field in front of the home crowd.

With 2:07 left in regulation, running back Curtis Brown stretched into the end zone, putting the game out of reach.

"Against a good team like BYU you can't have any mental errors," Lubick said. "We only made them punt one time tonight. That's not a good sign right there."

Despite frustration over their early struggles however, the Rams were quick to point out they saw a better Cougar team on the field than they expected.

"You have to give BYU credit though," he said. "They played a lot better than people give them credit for."

With last week's win over the University of New Mexico and their dominant play against CSU Saturday, BYU shouldn't be taken lightly by anyone the rest of the season.

Known for their aerial attack so far this year, the Cougars took to the ground for 274 rushing yards while picking up only 168 through the air. Junior quarterback John Beck delivered when he needed to, completing 72 percent of his passes.

The Rams now look to put this game behind them and refocus on the challenging stretch of games before them.

"It's a matter of going out there and doing what we know we can do," Bell said. "I know if we play to our potential we can win every week."


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