Plays the Rams made at the beginning of the season on their way to a 3-0 start aren’t being made anymore.
The timely interceptions, the big defensive stops on third down, picking up the crucial first down on offense —- all have been absent from the Rams (3-5, 0-4 MWC) during the team’s five-game losing streak.
Those woes continued Saturday in the 42-28 loss against San Diego State (3-4, 1-2).
Cornerback Nick Oppenneer dropped two potential interceptions — one in the end zone, which could have dramatically changed the outcome of the game.
“As a leader, you’ve got to make plays. Somebody, somewhere, you’ve got to find a way to make plays,” Oppenneer said. “I wish I could say, ‘Oh it’s this or it’s this, or we just have to change this.’ It just comes down to making plays.”
Prior to Saturday, Oppenneer had intercepted a pass in three consecutive games and safety Elijah-Blu Smith recorded an interception in the first three games of the season, but CSU saw its streak of nine games with at least one takeaway end on Saturday.
The offense missed out on capitalizing on opportunities as well. After jumping out to a 21-7 lead by halftime, the unit only scored once more in the second half.
Despite junior running back John Mosure’s career day of 130 yards, the offense had trouble sustaining drives. The team converted just three of nine third-down attempts and held the ball for only 8 minutes 48 seconds in the second half.
“We need to control the ball better on offense. We run it a little harder, our receivers make plays,” head coach Steve Fairchild said. “We dialed up some things offensively that we just didn’t execute.”
Quarterback Grant Stucker played another subpar game, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes and tossing two interceptions.
Both of his interceptions came during second half in which the offense only scored one touchdown and punted twice.
“We’ve got to figure out what’s going on,” Stucker said. “If it was something that I knew was wrong, it’s something I definitely would address and try to fix as much as I could,” he said of the second half offensive woes.
The five straight losses marks the longest losing streak since the team lost 13 games in a row spanning the end of the 2006 season into the middle of the 2007 campaign.
Senior center Tim Walter was a member of those teams.
“The only thing that’s going through my mind is that I hate losing. It’s something I don’t want to experience. I don’t want any of my teammates to experience it,” Walter said. “If this is the step we have to take to get better, then that’s what we’ll have to do.
“We’ve just got to pull together as a team and look at ourselves in the mirror and find out what’s going on.”
Football beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.