Eight months of off-season preparation, two-a-day practices in 90-plus degree heat, and countless hours of game planning have led the CSU Rams to this moment. All that’s left to do is officially start the 2009 season.
The Rams are set to take on the dreaded CU-Boulder Buffaloes Sunday night at Folsom Field in the 68th installment of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. CSU has failed to defeat the Buffs since 2006 and are aiming to end a two game losing skid.
CSU head coach Steve Fairchild said that his team is still a work in progress and admitted he doesn’t think the Rams are fully ready for Sunday’s game.
“We are still a little inconsistent,” the former CSU quarterback said. “We’re not playing smart football as consistently as we were last year, but we are what we are. We have some ability level and we’re going to play hard. It’s just a matter of if we can get that edge you need mentally.”
The last time the Rams visited Folsom Field in Boulder, they left heartbroken, falling to the Buffs 31-28, losing on a second field goal. Klint Kubiak and Grant Stucker, redshirt freshmen at the time, remember the defeat well. Now as seniors, the duo can think of nothing better to end their showdown career than knocking off CU on their home turf.
“That memory has stuck with me like it was yesterday,” Stucker, the recently named CSU starting quarterback, said. “It has definitely been an uneasy feeling for four-and-a-half years. Going down to Boulder, I would love nothing more than beating them in their place.”
Kubiak shares Stucker’s feelings.
“It was a tough pill to swallow, but that was a long time ago and we’re really excited to get this season started,” the safety and defensive captain said. “It would be the ultimate pleasure to go do that (win at CU). We’ve worked hard enough and we have a good enough team to go down and do it.”
CU-Boulder enters the showdown hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2008 season. After beginning the season 3-0, the Buffs stumbled, losing seven of their final nine games and ending the season 5-7.
Kubiak explained that CU was a young team last year and have improved since that time.
“They have a lot of guys coming back and have good guys who can make plays,” he said. “Their running backs have one more year of experience. So we know that they have good athletes. They were a good team last year and they are going to be a good team this year.”
Along with returning two experienced quarterbacks in junior Cody Hawkins and sophomore Tyler Hansen, the Buff’s display a talented core of running backs headed by sophomores Darrell Scott and Rodney Stewart.
Fairchild said he is expecting the Buffs to rely on their running game heavily during Sunday’s contest.
“Defensively we’re going to have to be stout against the run,” he said. “I’m sure they are going to try and power the ball down our throats.”
The Rams and Buffs are scheduled to kickoff at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.