Defense Wins Championships

Sep 162003
Authors: Steve Latuda

One of the most popular sayings in sports is the ever famous, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” This saying could be the poster saying for the Rams’ game this week against the (1-1) Miami (OH) Red Hawks.

The Red Hawks will bring one of the best quarterbacks in the nation onto Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, and the Rams defense believes they are ready for the challenge.

The 6-foot-5 junior is currently in his third season as Miami’s starting quarterback, and looks stronger than ever. He is already Miami’s record holder for pass completions with 512, and will capture a lot more school records before his time is done.

At the start of the season, Roethlisberger was on a lot of people’s lists to contend for the Heisman Trophy, but after his sub-par performance, in which he threw four interceptions in a 21-3 loss to the No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes in the season opener, he has fallen out of the media spotlight.

But he has not been forgotten, especially after his 353 yard, three-touchdown performance in Miami’s 44-14 victory over Northwestern last week.

“He (Roethlisberger) is one of the top three or four guys being looked at by the NFL,” head coach Sonny Lubick said. “He will be the best quarterback that we have seen to date.”

Star defensive back and punt returner Dexter Wynn shares in his coach’s concerns, but finds defending Roethlisberger a good challenge for him and his defensive mates.

“We got a great concern for their quarterback, but we will take the challenge,” Wynn said. “This will be a great opportunity for us to make up for the Colorado game.”

Since the Colorado game, in which the Rams gave up 402 yards of passing, the CSU defensive backs have played better each game. In their 23-21 victory over Cal, they gave up 248 yards in the air, and last week against Weber State, they gave up 233 passing yards.

“We are doing a lot better,” Lubick said. “At least we are covering the right guys now.”

In the win over Northwestern, Roethlisberger completed at least one pass to ten different receivers. Wynn was impressed, but not shaken by those numbers.

“That’s why we got 11 guys on the field,” Wynn said. “The linebackers will help out because they are very experienced and talented. I have complete faith in my teammates.”

Wynn says he takes it upon himself to help and teach the young defensive backs to have a short memory, and keep playing hard.

Overlooked in all the hype surrounding Roethlisberger is the talented quarterback here in Fort Collins.

“I really don’t think that I have to prove a thing,” Bradlee Van Pelt said. “I’d love to play a good game, but the victory is first and foremost. If he has a better game then me, and we win, then that’s life.”

Van Pelt has thrown for more yards (819-603) than Roethlisberger and has thrown more touchdown passes (6-3), but also has seen the field once more than the Miami (OH) starter.

The numbers point to this week’s game being a shootout. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whom you ask.

Coach Lubick hates shootouts and says that he never wins them. Van Pelt says he is fine with one, but coaches don’t like them because it puts too much stress on them.

Hopefully it won’t come down to that.

Injury Update: Center Mark Dryer, coming off of surgery last Tuesday to repair a torn tendon in his right ring finger, has been labeled as questionable and might play this week against Miami. His position has not been determined.

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