PROVO, Utah — I’m going to try to sugar coat this as little as possible because losing sucks, plain and simple –/especially when you’re playing a conference opponent. Still, while there may be no moral victories in the world of college football, we did learn a lot about the CSU Rams this weekend, like just how good they are (and they’re good).
The scoreboard shows a 19-point victory for the BYU Cougars, but if you were to take away both of Grant Stucker’s interceptions in the first quarter which were caused by Rashaun Greer not getting a handle on the ball — neither of which were Stucker’s fault — we could be looking at either a much smaller deficit or possibly a Ram victory.
Sure, what’s done is done and mistakes are going to happen in the game of football, but both of those turnovers were in CSU territory and both led to touchdowns. All 21 of BYU’s first half points came in the first quarter and none of those three touchdowns were scored on drives of more than 45 yards.
Still, a loss is a loss.
But how about Grant Stucker? If you thought he played a good game against CU-Boulder, I sure hope you didn’t miss his performance on Saturday. Despite an “L” in the record book, Stucker’s performance against BYU was the best showing by a CSU quarterback in the past three years –without question.
Playing in front of 64,000 fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium, arguably the toughest place to play in the Mountain West Conference, Stucker was 30 of 50 for 372 yards with two touchdowns along with two picks.
But what was most impressive of his 372 yards was the fact that he did it without a single pass longer than 21 yards. The main criticism of Stucker is that he can’t be consistent in the short-to-mid range passing game, but he did it on Saturday.
He was much more impressive than BYU’s Max Hall, who only had two touchdown passes rather than one because the Cougars decided to pad his stats on their second-to-last drive of the game instead of running the clock out.
On Saturday we also learned a little about wide receiver Tyson Liggett. When he entered the game in the first quarter, you could almost assume that he was being put on the field to punish Greer after his two drops that led to interceptions, but he continued to produce throughout the game while Greer remained on the sideline. Sure enough, Liggett, a former walk-on, goes on to lead the Rams with 11 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown.
This is the kind of game, win or lose, where you learn a little about your team and just what they are capable of. Even though the Rams didn’t cover the spread due to some costly mistakes, they proved that they can play with the best of the conference in a hostile environment such as Provo. You learn about how well your backups can play. Middle linebacker Chris Gipson had two sacks, stepping up in place of the injured Alex Williams. When starters like Greer don’t produce, players like Liggett step up and give you better depth.
No matter how well the Rams played (or didn’t, if you want to angle it that way), CSU still has to start over with game preparation on Tuesday as they have another road game against a surging Idaho team next week. Time to put the loss in the past and focus on the next step.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.