Oct 082003
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

The CSU football team does not care about past games at Brigham

Young University.

The players are more concerned about repeating their performance

of last Saturday and getting their first conference win.

Coming off a dominating 34-10 win against Fresno State, the Rams

(3-3, 0-1) are hoping to carry that momentum into Provo, Utah

Thursday in a primetime matchup against BYU (3-3, 2-1) (8:00 p.m.,

ESPN2).

“It’s a must win,” said wide receiver Chris Pittman. “We

definitely want to keep this confidence rolling. We’re definitely

not looking forward to losing any time soon.”

However, the last time the Rams beat the Cougars in Provo was in

1994, and the Rams defense couldn’t stop BYU in a 56-34 loss in

2001.

“Trends are something newspaper people like to write about,”

said linebacker Drew Wood. “I would not be looking at the stat book

going into BYU thinking ‘When is the last time we beat them?’ It

makes no difference.”

Despite losing leading tackler Eric Pauly to a season-ending

injury, the Rams defense posted its best back-to-back games against

Utah and Fresno State, giving up only three touchdowns in those two

games combined.

“I’d like to see us play the way we did the last two weeks

(defensively) with a little consistency,” said head coach Sonny

Lubick.

Lubick said Courtney Jones did a good job taking over Pauly’s

spot at linebacker and improved more as he got used to playing

every series. The sophomore recorded nine tackles on Saturday

against Fresno. Reserve linebacker Jahmal Hall returned from an

injury to limited action last week and could see more time this

week.

The secondary is also cutting down on mistakes made early in the

year and causing turnovers. Cornerbacks Ben Stratton and Dexter

Wynn each recorded an interception against Fresno.

“You can never be comfortable out there, especially playing

defense,” Stratton said. “(But) we know what we’re doing right now

and playing with confidence.”

The Cougars offense enters its Homecoming Game coming off a

44-point outburst at San Diego State, Saturday. Starting

quarterback Matt Berry could return to the lineup after missing

three weeks with a broken hand. Backup quarterback John Beck has

gone 1-2 in Berry’s absence. While Wood and Lubick said it doesn’t

matter much who is behind center, Stratton said the corners have to

take a slightly different mindset depending on who plays.

“One guy (Beck) is a more mobile guy like Bradlee (Van Pelt) and

the other guy (Berry) is a bigger guy, a pocket guy,” Stratton

said. “We’ll definitely have a different game plan; whichever

quarterback is in we’ll be ready for him.”

Van Pelt had put up big numbers passing early in the season, but

the running game was suffering because Van Pelt was not as quick to

takeoff and run. Lubick and the coaching staff encouraged Van Pelt

to run when he felt he had open room, and he responded with 13

carries for 158 yards against Fresno.

“Why try to force the ball to get a maximum five- to seven-yard

gain, when you can scramble and get 30 yards?” Van Pelt asked. “At

first I didn’t understand where the coaches were coming from, I was

like ‘well you want me to stay in the pocket.’ The coaches

understood I need to find my balance and hopefully I made some big

strides on Saturday.”

BYU’s defense has been solid most of the season, holding Georgia

Tech and Stanford under 20 points and New Mexico to seven. However,

the Cougars gave up 36 against SDSU last week. Seven Cougar players

have at least one interception this season, but SDSU wide receiver

Jeff Webb caught 10 passes for 253 yards against the Cougars

secondary.

Rams wide receiver David Anderson is second in the nation in

receiving yards with 674 yards. Anderson and Pittman have combined

for 67 receptions in the first six games.

“I don’t think SDSU’s wide receivers are better than we are,”

Pittman said. “I expect to go out there and make plays whenever my

name is called.”

 

 

 

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