What a difference one week can make.
Just seven days removed from a convincing 43-10 victory over UNLV, the CSU Rams (2-6, 1-3 MWC) were throttled in Salt Lake City by the No. 8 Utah Utes.
In the loss, the Ramsâ€™ defense was manhandled to the tune of 648 yards and 59 points. And though CSU faces the winless New Mexico Lobos this weekend Ââ€“â€“ a team producing just 269 yards of total offense per game Ââ€“â€“ defensive adjustments remain the primary focus at practice this week.
CSU senior linebacker, and leading-tackler, Ricky Brewer believes the defense must have the attitude of a champion in order for the Rams to start playing like one.
â€œThis is our chance to go out and redeem ourselves,â€ Brewer said. â€œMake a statement and show everyone what weâ€™re about.â€
For the first time this season, the Rams will game plan for a true freshman quarterback, as the Lobos are expected to start Tarean Austin on Saturday. In five games played this season, Austin has averaged below 100 yards passing per game and has four interceptions to just two touchdowns.
Senior middle linebacker Alex Williams says the team will approach the Lobos like it would any other opponent.
â€œThereâ€™s no difference in scheme, and we are going to practice just as hard,â€ Williams said. â€œWe donâ€™t treat the quarterback any differently if heâ€™s a senior or if heâ€™s a freshman.â€
Coach Steve Fairchild said he expects to get junior running back Raymond Carter back in action to some capacity this weekend. Carter, who has accounted for 279 yards of total offense and three scores, has been sidelined with a knee injury since leaving in the first half of the TCU game on Oct. 2.
â€œI think we are almost at full availability. Weâ€™ll get Raymond (Carter) back to some degree (this week),â€ Fairchild said. â€œIâ€™m speculating, but based on what he did last week out on the field Iâ€™d be surprised if Raymond didnâ€™t play some snaps for us at running back.â€
The Rams have been decidedly better at home this season, averaging better than 26 points a game at Hughes Stadium compared to the 10.4 points per game theyâ€™ve managed on the road. The team will look to continue that trend as it hosts the New Mexico, one of the two remaining winless schools in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.