When the Ram take Sports Authority Field at Mile High tomorrow it will be the biggest game of their lives.
â€œIâ€™ve grown up watching this game since I was like four-years-old, going to all the Rocky Mountain Showdowns,â€ linebacker James Skelton said. â€œNow that Iâ€™m here playing in it, itâ€™s just the biggest game of my life probably.â€
The Rams know they will have to exude more composure and understanding of their assignments than was needed in the first two games of the season. CU presents bigger problems with matchups through shear size and athleticism.
â€œBoth sides of the ball are much different,â€ coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œTheyâ€™re going to pound us a little more, with the run game, than the two teams we have faced.â€
The most concerning issue in the young season is an inconsistent offense that is searching for an identity, especially on third down.
â€œWe want to be at about 45 to 50 percent (third down conversion rate),â€ Fairchild said. â€œItâ€™s an area of concern, we have looked at it, weâ€™re continuing to study, continuing to work on it and there was a lot of third down periods out there today (in practice).â€
It will take a team effort to improve on third down as the Rams have showed they lack a go-to receiver and are yet to hit their stride in the run game.
â€œIn pass protection we just have to protect better, protect longer and give (quarterback) Pete (Thomas) a chance to get through his reads,â€ center Weston Richburg said. â€œIn the run game we have to have a better back-to-line relationship.
â€œThe backs need to be more patient finding the holes and we need to open up bigger holes for them.â€
CSU has to get better each week if they want to reach their goal of making a bowl game. The Rams emphasized the importance of playing smart and giving it their all this week in practice. Â
â€œWeâ€™re about to play hard,â€ running back Chris Nwoke said. â€œItâ€™s all about playing hard for the longest amount of time, the team to do that the most, I think, will win the game.â€
The Rams are going into the Showdown with the feeling they must win.
â€œWe got to win,â€ Pete Thomas said. â€œThis gameâ€™s been in the back of our minds since we came back in January. Itâ€™s a huge game for us. It is a different game in an NFL stadium, itâ€™s a rivalry game. Â So we do treat this game a little differently and weâ€™re real excited.â€
Football Beat Reporter Travis Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.