It seems the CSU offense has finally taken, well, offense to the notion that the Rams are better known for their defense.
Usually a low-scoring contest, CSU’s offense was on display Saturday at Hughes Stadium during the Rams’ annual Green vs. Gold game.
“There were a lot of real good, quality things that happened out there,” head coach Sonny Lubick said after the game. “I was really pleased with our offense. They made a lot of big plays, especially early.”
Big gains and long scoring plays were a common sight Saturday and kept the unofficial crowd of close to 3,000 entertained and cheering throughout the game, which the Green team eventually won, 21-17.
The offensive outburst helped to answer some uncertainties the Rams held going into the spring season, the biggest of which: Would the Ram running attack suffer mightily now that Cecil Sapp is gone?
Answer: Definitely not as much as once thought. Of the many standouts, fullbacks Tristan Walker and Rahsaan Sanders shone brightly. Walker, a freshman, made his presence known with punishing runs and surprising speed on the way to 88 yards on 11 carries, while Sanders, the projected starter in the Ram backfield, rumbled for 61 yards and a touchdown of his own.
“Tristan looks like he’s going to be the running back we all thought he was going to be,” Lubick said. “Rahsaan has experience and he’s done very well, too, so we’re very excited about that position.”
Only adding to the excitement was the long-anticipated debut of Marcus Houston, the Rams’ high-profile transfer from Colorado, who gained 46 yards on four carries, including a 35-yard gallop down the left sideline early in the first half.
Houston said he enjoyed the day, even with his appeal to the NCAA for eligibility next season still pending.
“I honestly haven’t even thought that far ahead,” Houston said when asked about next season. “It was just great to be out here today with my team.”
Still, not every Ram was wild about the running game.
“The last thing we wanted to do was run, run, run. We wanted to show the people that we will be explosive,” senior wide receiver Chris Pittman said. “We wanted to make it fun for these people.”
Besides Pittman, who caught five passes for 105 yards, nine other receivers caught passes from the Rams’ pair of quarterbacks, Bradlee Van Pelt and Justin Holland, who both looked impressive.
Van Pelt led the Green team with 182 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-19 completions, while sophomore Holland outdid the incumbent Van Pelt with 191 yards and two scores of his own for the Gold.
One of the Rams’ most exciting performers on the day was do-it-all senior Dexter Wynn, who got a chance to showcase his offensive skills. Fans and members of both teams went wild when Wynn caught a short pass and used his speed and elusiveness to turn what should have been a short gain into a 49-yard touchdown pass for the Gold team.
“I love playing offense,” said Wynn, who will see time at wide-out in addition to playing cornerback and returning punts and kicks. “The coaches moved me other there to make things happen, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Though the defense didn’t have its best outing in terms of limiting long plays, Lubick was pleased the defense was able to force three interceptions and three fumbles.
“We have to eliminate the big plays, but we also did get some turnovers,” Lubick said. “It’s nothing to be concerned about just yet.”
Another positive for the Rams was the relative lack of injuries. Freshman safety Adam Hayward was about the only Ram to receive attention after sustaining an undisclosed injury.