If CSU kept up its pace, sustained in the first half of its first two games, the Rams’ offense would be scoring 40 points a contest.
But instead, the Rams have managed only 10 second half points in their first two games. Matched up this week against the Nevada Wolf Pack defense, the Rams seemed poised to break out of its second-half slump.
“We didn’t play a complete game, obviously, this last game, and I think once we actually figure out how to do that, we’re going to be pretty dangerous,” said senior quarterback Grant Stucker.
The Rams have jumped out and scored on their first drives in each of the first two games, scoring 24 points total in the first quarter. The second half has been a different story, as the Rams have been held scoreless in each third quarter.
“We’ve been addressing our football team to start fast in the first half and continue that trend to be a better second-half football team on offense,” said offensive coordinator Greg Peterson.
The Wolf Pack defense may provide a chance for the Rams’ offense to shine. In its loss to Notre Dame, the defense gave up 35 points and 510 yards of total offense.
The secondary could be a weakness of the Nevada defense, which gave up 332 yards passing to the Irish. Peterson said the secondary is aggressive and physical and they like to bring their safety down to support the run.
They are heavy on experience, however, starting three seniors, including safety and co-captain Jonathon Amaya.
With eight men in the box, the deep ball could become an option for the Rams, but maintaining balance in the offense is key, said head coach Steve Fairchild.
“If we’re going to move the ball, we’re going to throw the ball and run it and have balance,” Fairchild said. “When we do throw it, we’ve got to protect, and we’ve got to (have receivers) separate and get off the line.”
The Rams have the vertical weapons to attack the Wolf Pack defense. Rashaun Greer is off to a fast start with eight receptions for 212 yards and Dion Morton, though he has only one catch, is always a threat to go deep.
Stucker has shown a good deep ball and has managed the offense well in his first two collegiate starts, throwing for two touchdowns and showing off his versatility with a 40-yard touchdown reception against Weber State.
He and the offense have struggled converting on third down, going 3-for-22 in the first two games. But the quarterback said he’s confident, after a strong week of practice, the third down conversions will come.
“I think we’re just on the cusp of figuring out what we need to and executing all that to be better on third downs,” Stucker said.
The Rams are vying for their first 3-0 start since 1994.
“It’d be real big for the school and the team and for the city of Fort Collins,” junior running back John Mosure said.
Mosure returns the backfield Saturday after sitting out last game due to a concussion sustained at CU-Boulder.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and a live game blog can be followed at http://collegiansports.com.
Football beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.