This Friday night the Rams travel to Albuquerque to take on the University of New Mexico. CSU looks to get back at New Mexico by beating them on their home field just as the Lobos beat the Rams 23-17 last October in Fort Collins.
The Rams were led by true freshman quarterback Caleb Hanie at the time, due to Justin Holland's season-ending leg injury a few games prior.
Last year's Achilles heel for CSU, the running game, was totally exposed by UNM. The Rams only ran for an anemic 35 yards on 34 carries. That made for a grand total of 1.03 yards per carry, forcing Hanie to throw the ball 36 times. Hanie did end with a solid game, completing 20 of his 36 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns with only one interception on the day. That would prove to be not enough to get a win.
CSU jumped out to a 7-3 halftime lead by converting on their first drive, but two turnovers in the third quarter turned the tables in favor of the Lobos. New Mexico capitalized on the turnovers by kicking in two of four field goals on the day.
The Lobos' somewhat sluggish offense was led by junior running back Dontrell Moore, who returns for his senior season this year. Moore ran for 154 yards and a touchdown on only 26 carriers, bringing Moore's career rushing numbers to 577 yards and five touchdowns against the Rams in three games.
The 5'10" 210-pound running back accounted for more than half of UNM's total offense. Sophomore quarterback Kole McKamey finished the day with 110 yards on only seven completions.
This year should be a different story for the Rams. Their senior quarterback is healthy and the ground game is much more established than a year ago.
The CSU defense played well against the Lobo offense last year and would like to repeat the performance this Friday night on ESPN2. Moore is averaging more than 190 yards a game versus CSU and the Rams look to somehow buckle down against the MWC leading rusher.
"Last year was one of our best defensive games of the year, we just have to finish and stop the run," said defensive coordinator Steve Stanard. "We have to stop the big play against these guys."
McKamey hit junior wide-receiver Hank Baskett for 69-yard touchdown to win he game last year.
"They throw the ball to (Baskett) and hand the ball off to Dontrell, that's the whole secret," Stanard said. "They are a physical team, they run the ball well and are running it well on everyone right now."
Senior quarterback Justin Holland will make an appearance against the Lobos for the first time in his career.
"It's gonna be a new look for them and for me, but they are not going to show me anything that I haven't seen before," Holland said. "Hopefully we are going to show them some stuff that they haven't seen before."
Holland said he is confident in the Rams' defense in slowing down Moore and the rest of the UNM offense. CSU will look to capitalize early and hold the Lobos in the second half.
"For us to come out and win this game, we need to take care of the ball," said Holland, who watched his team commit three turnovers last year. This year the "new look" Rams should throw New Mexico a curve ball on offense as they look to get back the loss suffered last year.