The Rams are back in the bowl picture with their bid to the first-ever San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 22 at 8:30 p.m. MST. They will face the Navy Midshipmen who finished the regular season 7-4.
The Rams haven't won a bowl since beating North Texas 45-20 in the New Orleans Bowl in 2001 and haven't participated in one since 2003. The only players that could have been at CSU in 2001 are fifth year seniors, who would have red shirted, and therefore not played in that game.
"We've all gone to some bowls since coming here, but a lot of us seniors never played in those games," said senior safety Travis Garcia. "The seniors have been huge contributors, this game means a lot to us."
The seniors and the entire team will be seeing an offense they've had to become familiar with in the triple option.
The triple option is somewhat similar to the offense run by Air Force. But one difference in the two attacks is the percentage each team runs the option.
"Navy has a good rushing attack," said head coach Sonny Lubick. "Navy runs option about 70 percent of the game. This will be a real challenge for us."
One reason the Midshipmen offense poses such a challenge to the Rams is due to the Rams' inability to consistently stop the run. The Rams run defense is ranked 104th in the nation, and last in the Mountain West Conference, while Navy boasts the nation's top rushing attack, while averaging 305.9 yards a game.
One key for the Midshipmen is their fullback, sophomore Adam Ballard. Compared to other players at his position, Ballard gets the ball often. He has rushed 94 times this season, and averages 5.7 yards a carry.
"Their fullback is good and their quarterback is quick as can be. We've got to get our secondary involved in stopping the run," Lubick said.
Offensively the Rams will be as healthy as they've been since the start of conference play, as the entire offensive line should be ready to play. Senior offensive tackle Mike Brisiel began practicing last week, and senior center Albert Bimper is also practicing in preparation for Navy.
With the combination of a healthy offensive lineman and workhorse second-team all-Conference running back Kyle Bell getting nearly a month of rest, the Ram rushing attack should be strong.
The team will practice up until Saturday, then head to San Diego, where they will practice a few times before the game.
Check out Collegian.com Dec. 23 for results and photos from the game.