The numbers don’t lie. CSU isn’t stopping the run.
After giving up an average of 288 yards on the ground, the CSU
defense is going to get an even bigger test this week against No.
22 Minnesota, a team that knows how to run the football.
After trying to stop the dynamic USC running back duo of LenDale
White and Reggie Bush, CSU will have no easier time facing
Minnesota running backs Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney, who
both have gained over 1,000 yards last year. This year Minnesota
has averaged 359 yards per game on the ground in its first two
“We don’t make any bones about it, we like to run,” said Glen
Mason, Minnesota head coach. “You don’t stop the run, we’ll keep
Defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Steve Stanard said
that the stats against the CSU defense were not a good measure of
how good the defense really was.
“If you look at the numbers, we shut down CU in the second
half,” Stanard said. “And we gave up (all those yards) to the No. 1
team in the nation. They’re No. 1 for a reason.”
Stanard said the team needed to tackle better, and said that
Minnesota would be a challenge to the defense.
“They’re going to run downhill at you and you got to tackle
them,” Stanard said. “You gotta stop their running game. That’s
what they do, that’s their focus.”
Senior linebacker Courtney Jones agreed.
“We just got to attack the play better, we know our plays,”
Jones said. “We’re hesitant a lot of times. We’re depending too
much on going downfield.”
Stanard said, while the defensive line was young, he was pleased
with the play of both redshirt freshmen Blake Smith and Jesse
“Smith is doing a nice job, but consistency is the concern; it’s
the biggest thing for a young player,” Stanard said. “But we’re
awful pleased with where they are right now.”
Junior safety Miles Kochevar said that the defense is staying
together after two tough losses.
“These next couple of games will show if the defense will come
together,” Kochevar said. “I think we are pulling together as a
team and we’ll show what we’re capable of doing.”
Mason said the numbers don’t give the CSU defense enough
“Without a doubt they are the best defensive personnel we’ve
faced this year, from watching them on film,” Mason said. “They
could have beat Colorado, they played pretty well for a long period
of time against USC.”
Kochevar said that he didn’t mind playing the hard schedule.
“You wouldn’t want an easier schedule,” Kochevar said. “It pays
off playing tough teams.”
Junior running back Jimmy Green is listed as probable this week
after recovering from a sprained ankle. However, junior Uldis
Jaunarajs will get his first start of the season after leading all
Rams rushers with 74-yards against USC. Green, expected to see some
playing time, will make his 2004 debut. Tristan Walker, who bruised
his knee against USC, will be available this weekend, but is not
expected to play.
Strong safety Adam Lancisero is expected to play this weekend,
but will not start. He has been hampered by a hamstring injury
since the game against Colorado.
CSU has given out the allotted 10,000 student tickets for this
weekend’s football game, which is almost unheard of according to
Gary Ozzello, CSU’s director of media relations. There are about
2,000 reserved seats still on sale. As of Thursday night, 33,000
people are expected to attend this weekend’s football game, which
would set a new record for an opening day crowd. The old record was
31,607, set in 2002 when the Rams played Louisville.
The Rams have won their last 10 home openers, beating Weber
State 31-7 last year. The last time the Rams lost a home opener was
in 1993, when Oregon beat CSU 23-9.