The 13-degree wind chill that froze War Memorial Stadium before Saturday afternoon’s kickoff ended up being a stone-cold indicator for how CSU’s offense would perform for the next three hours.
The Rams failed to score a single point for the six consecutive quarters in their 24-0 loss to Wyoming, a streak that dates back to the Air Force defeat Oct. 13.
In fact, the last time the CSU offense was held scoreless for such a span was in 1984 when current Head Coach Sonny Lubick was the offensive coordinator.
“We got two seniors on the offensive team, two good tackles,” Lubick said. “Those are really the only two guys that I think are playing.
Facing the No.1 pass defense in the country in addition to a continually weak rushing game equated to the first scoreless performance by CSU against a conference foe since 1997.
“That’s what happens when you don’t come to play, teams end up kicking your
ass,” said H-back Kory Sperry.
With a passing offense designed to exploit the play-action pass, the absence of an effective rushing game may be the most significant factor in the Rams’ recent struggles.
Through seven games, no running back has yet to gain 100 yards in a single game – the deepest into a season the Rams have failed to do so in Lubick’s 14-year tenure.
Last season a CSU running back eclipsed the century mark six times.
“Obviously if we could get a little play-action game going it would round out everything and we wouldn’t have to do so much drop-back passing,” said junior quarterback Caleb Hanie.
The Cowboys proved worthy of the nation’s best pass defense Saturday, amassing eight pass breakups and two interceptions.
Several of the breakups occurred during key situations, four of which forced CSU to punt the very next play.
“You got to give (Wyoming) credit,” said junior wide receiver Johnny
Walker. “They made the plays they had to make to keep us out of the end zone.”
The Rams never even managed to penetrate inside the Poke’s 20-yard line.
The farthest they got was the Wyoming 22-yard line, resulting in sophomore
kicker Jason Smith’s fourth missed field goal in six attempts this season.
“The offense couldn’t do anything,” Walker said. “It’s like we’re letting our defense down for the second week in a row I feel.”
The running game appeared to be on the verge of a breakout game after gaining 41 yards in the first quarter, but its effectiveness slowly declined as the Cowboy’s lead increased.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime trailing by just three points, Lubick felt “good” about his team’s chances and said he thought the game would be decided late in the fourth quarter.
The Rams punted on their first three possessions of the second half and turned the football over on its last three.
The result: A race among Wyoming players across the field toward the CSU sideline for the right to hoist the Bronze Boot as soon as the last seconds ticked off the game clock.
Football beat writer Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.