Playing football on the road hasn’t been CSU’s strong suit the past two years.
Since the start of the 2006 season, the Rams have only won two official road games, at Fresno State in 2006 and at Nevada Las Vegas last season. So far in away games this season, CSU has been outscored 91-23, recording only two touchdowns. But there is hope for the Rams on Saturday as their target destination is set for “America’s finest city,” to face San Diego State.
Like CSU has on the road, SDSU (1-6, 0-3 MWC) has had their share of trouble this season; however, it’s been in all departments, especially last week when they fell victim to New Mexico 70-7. But Ram head coach Steve Fairchild is not going to look over the Aztecs.
“We’ve lost three straight games to them. It’s traditionally been a tough place to go and play for Colorado State,” said Fairchild, a San Diego native. “Back in the ’90s when we were winning championships, we got into some really tight football games on the road there, and we found a way to win. But this is not going to be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination.”
Something CSU (3-4, 1-2 MWC) has been able to do on their road trips this season is run the football, especially when the passing game is not working. The Aztecs rank last in the Mountain West Conference in rushing defense and CSU senior running back Gartrell Johnson III feels that the Rams can really get going if they run the football.
“I think they’re close to last in the country in run stop defense,” Johnson said. “We gotta go out and establish the run game first and hit them where it hurts.”
While the Rams seem to be keying in on the run offensively, SDSU appears to be focusing on stopping that same aspect.
“We have to find a way to stop the run. That has been our biggest issue so far this season. They will watch our tape and see our statistics and feel that they can just run the ball on us,” said SDSU head coach Chuck Long. “When teams are able to do that consistently, it makes it a very long and hard game.”
Another aspect SDSU has struggled with this season is moving the football, with less than 2,000 total yards of offense seven games into the season. Rams’ senior safety Jake Galusha says this is a big game for the team and hopes CSU can stop whatever offense the Aztecs throw at them.
“I hope we can go out there and get a win under our belt on the road because we got a couple games, Air Force and Wyoming, which are away games, but are really, sort of, home games and this could give us a nudge going into those games,” Galusha said.
Since CSU has struggled defensively on the road the coaching staff has setup a defense Olympics at practice during the week between the defensive line and the defensive backs to help get competitive spirits up. Even though defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said the two competing units are all tied up, Galusha begs to differ.
“No way! We’re the real deal,” laughed the Omaha, Neb. native. “We’re the most athletic, the best looking and the best all around athletes on the defense. There’s no way we’re not going to win this competition.”
All-in-all, the Rams appear ready for their next road test on Saturday.
Football beat writer Matt Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.