As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours.
Johnny Walker put on a clinic supporting that theory Saturday in CSU’s 26-23 loss at New Mexico.
The Rams’ senior wide receiver didn’t just break his 21-game touchdown drought, he demolished it, finishing with a career-high 177 yards and two scores.
Walker’s day was good enough to earn him the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week award Monday.
“It is a great tribute to Johnny and the coaches,” Sonny Lubick said of the award during his press conference Monday. “I was shocked when you guys told me after the game that that was Johnny’s first touchdown (catch) in two years.”
Walker had not found the end zone since the 2005 Poinsettia Bowl, despite being the Rams’ leading receiver in yardage since that game.
In the first quarter Saturday, Walker caught a pass from Caleb Hanie in stride along the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown – the longest reception of Walker’s career.
Then the senior showed off his quick moves late in the second quarter, sidestepping New Mexico cornerback DeAndre Wright to pick up a 31-yard touchdown.
“I know our record is rough, but I wouldn’t trade this group of players for anyone, especially Johnny,” said Lubick of the 1-9 Rams.
Walker ranks fifth all-time in career receiving yards at CSU. He led the Rams in yards last season (586) and is second on the team this year (437).
Walker is the second Ram to receive the award this season, after running back Gartrell Johnson III picked it up in week eight.
Challenge ahead for defense
When the Rams head coach compares an upcoming opponent to a Heisman candidate, fans know the teams is going to have your hands full.
That’s exactly what coach Lubick did Monday, saying that Georgia Southern senior quarterback Jayson Foster reminded him of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, one of the leading candidates for college football’s coveted award.
If Foster played in Division I-A, he may be giving Tebow a run for his money.
Foster averages 274.5 total yards per game and has rushed for 21 touchdowns this season, while throwing for six more.
“You can play four deep and watch for the pass, and if you cheat on their receivers, you get burned,” Lubick said. “But then, if you hang back, (Foster) will run. Those kinds of quarterbacks give everyone trouble.”
The Rams will face Foster and the Eagles with a defense that continues to battle the injury bug as it has all year.
Safety Mike Pagnotta, linebacker Jeff Horinek and cornerback Darryl Williams all suffered minor injuries in Saturday’s loss at New Mexico, adding to the problems for a unit playing without safety Zach Bryson (knee).
Junior safety Steve Juedes played the entire game against New Mexico after seeing little action earlier in the season, finishing with five tackles.
“I tell you, Juedes gets the iron man award for that game,” said Lubick. “He’s not on scholarship, but is an inspiration to the football team and to me.”
Sports writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at email@example.com.