If a five-game losing streak wasn’t bad enough, the CSU Rams got some more bad news Monday afternoon.
After losing starting safety Klint Kubiak to injury last week, the Rams defense took another hit this week with the loss of starting linebacker Michael Kawulok.
CSU head coach Steve Fairchild announced Monday that Kawulok, a sophomore, would be sidelined for the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury early in Saturday’s loss to San Diego State.
Kawulok was solid in the eight games he played for the Rams this season, producing 31 tackles and an interception.
With Kawulok out and fellow linebacker Alex Williams still questionable for Saturday’s game with a knee injury, the Rams are in need of some serious help at the linebacker position.
Fairchild remains sure that players will step up when needed and said injuries are not an excuse for losing.
“Like I’ve said all along, we’re not going to play with 22 guys,” the second-year head coach said in his weekly press conference Monday. “Whoever is in there is expected to play as well or better than who they came in for.”
Defensive coordinator Larry Kerr explained he plans on trying some fresh bodies out at linebacker this week in practice including freshman Andy Clements, who has seen little playing time so far this season.
Kerr explained that while it’s not going to be easy for the Rams defense, they are determined to still be competitive.
“It’s a little difficult, but we’ve got what we’ve got,” he said. “The guys we do have are working hard, and we’ll show up and play.”
New starters to the Rams defense will have to learn quickly, especially with a showdown with the Air Force Falcons only five days away. The Falcons traditionally run the option, a difficult offense to defend.
Kerr explained that getting new and young players ready to play Air Force’s unique option will be the Rams “biggest challenge this week.”
“How disciplined and how well we execute are always a factor when you’re playing an option team,” Kerr said. “If you get out of sync, somebody loses a responsibility and then all the sudden some guy is running down the football field. That’s going to be our challenge this week, just seeing if we can get these guys ready to play.”
It wasn’t all bad news for CSU, as it was announced running back Leonard Mason is expected to return to action this week. The junior was sidelined last week with bruised ribs.
Fairchild explained that Mason could have probably played last Saturday, but he held him out in an effort to give John Mosure more playing time against the Aztecs.
“John (Mosure) looked like he was in a good rhythm,” he said. “(Mason) was ready to go, and I really liked what Leonard did last week, trying to push through it, but he’ll be for sure ready this week.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.