After spending the last two weeks on the road, the 1-1 Colorado State Rams finally host a home game. This is not just any home game, it’s the first game played on the newly named Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.
The opponent will be the Weber State Wildcats, who bring a 2-0 record in Hughes.
“So far, so good,” Weber State head coach Jerry Graybeal said. “We didn’t play extremely well against Western State in our opener but rebounded well against Southern Utah last week.”
Last week the Rams traveled to Cal-Berkley where they defeated the Golden Bears 23-21 behind the arm of Bradlee Van Pelt, who threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns, and the leg of Jeff Babcock, who not only kicked the game winning 32-yard field goal with his third field goal of the day, but also netted a career-best 48-yard field goal in the first quarter.
“We performed well,” CSU head coach Sonny Lubick said. “The one downside was that we had to many penalties.”
The Rams were penalized nine times for 86 yards on the day.
Van Pelt comes into this weekend’s game leading the nation in total yardage. His 656 passing yards coupled with his 137 rushing yards give him 793 total yards on the season. “I have a lot of playmaking receivers,” Van Pelt said. “I just want to get the ball in their hands.”
Van Pelt also commented on the fact that though it is nice to know that he leads the nation in total yardage, it’s only after two games.
“If I’m still up there after twelve games, then I will be happy,” Van Pelt said. “I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.”
The receivers have been reaping the benefits of Van Pelt’s newfound passing attack. David Anderson currently ranks fourth in the nation with 283 yards receiving, and last week H-Back Joel Dreessen not only hauled in the longest touchdown reception of his career with an 85-yard strike, but also the pass also ranked as the second-longest pass play in Colorado State’s 110-year football history.
Weber State is very wary of the Rams high-powered offense.
“They play power football,” coach Greybeal said. “They can also drop-back pass with the best of them.”
The Wildcats experienced playing against a Mountain West opponent last year when they opened up the season in New Mexico with a 38-24 loss to the Lobos.
“We played them real well,” Greybeal remarked. “They just played better on special teams than we did. That is another thing that I am very weary about with CSU.”
So far the Rams special teams haven’t been as spectacular as they have been in recent past, but the Wildcats know that on any given play, they could easily block a punt or return one for a touchdown.
Dexter Wynn, the team’s most dangerous threat on special teams as well as in the defensive secondary is hampered by a deep thigh bruise and has been held out of practice, but coach Lubick said he is felling better.
Just as the offense kept rolling last week, the defense finally found its groove. Holding the Bears to 299 yards of total offense, the defensive backs impressed.
Cornerback Ben Stratton made a game saving interception with less than two minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Linebacker Eric Pauly also made an interception earlier in the game and collected nine tackles and two quarterback sacks.
“Interceptions are more for the DB’s,” Pauly said. “I look for sacks. I want to hit somebody.”
The game will kick-off at 1 p.m. Saturday, but it will not be on T.V. This week’s home game will be celebrated as Ag Day and also kicks off the first of four consecutive games at home for the Rams.
Weber State’s passing game has struggled this year with senior quarterback Tate Bennett only totaling 345 yards in his first two games. Bennett started 10 games last year and has the ability to rack up decent numbers. Last year he threw for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns against New Mexico.
Nick Chournos, a junior running back, leads the team with 256 yards rushing and one touchdown. He will go up against a physical defensive line that limited a solid Cal running attack to 51 yards rushing.
The Weber State defense is a little banged up with star defensive end Brady Fosmark scheduled to miss this week’s game with a sprained knee. CSU star tailback Marcus Houston looks to bounce back from his 14-carry 52-yard game last week against Cal. With Fosmark out, his chances have improved.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Holland made his first debut of the season last week throwing only one pass, an incompletion. Lubick said the coaches will put Holland in for a couple of series in the first half as well as a couple in the second.
“We need to get Justin in the game a little more this week. We’ve got to come up with a better game plan when he is in there,” Lubick said, referring to last week when the Rams were penalized five yards on Holland’s first play and were handcuffed the rest of the drive.
Also look for Marcus Houston to have a breakout game this week in his first game at home. With the possibility of the Rams putting up a lot of points this week, Marcus should get his fair share of carries.