The rest and relaxation of a bye week should fit right in with
the sun and fun of a trip to California. The satisfaction will not
linger long, though, unless CSU evens out its conference record and
gets a win Saturday against San Diego State at Qualcomm
The Aztecs come into the game 2-3 (0-1 MWC) with their two wins
coming at home and their three losses on the road, including a
heartbreaking 24-21 loss to No. 13 Michigan.
“It has everything to do with staying alive in the Mountain West
Conference championship,” said CSU quarterback Justin Holland. “We
haven’t let that dream die. That’s what our goal still is, and it
is huge for us to go out and pick this one up.”
The Rams will be looking to get the running game started early
and often to loosen the defense up for Justin Holland. They will
also look to improve on third-down conversions, as they were unable
to convert on third down two weeks ago against Brigham Young.
“Basically we are going to try and run the football again,
that’s what Colorado State does,” said senior H-back Joel Dreessen.
“We got to work on our third-down efficiency. I think we were only
3-of-12 last week, and we have got to keep those chains
That running game will be headed by junior running back Uldis
Juanarajs, who has rushed for 77 carries for 340 yards and three
touchdowns this year. Juanarajs had one of his best games against
BYU, running for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and he
has had a week of rest and preparation coming into this game.
“I think, not just for myself, a lot of guys are banged up, and
bye weeks always help out,” Jaunarajs said.
The defense will also have to step up this week. The Aztecs are
led onto the field by junior quarterback Matt Dlugolecki, who has
thrown for 1,268 yards and six touchdowns but has also been picked
off seven times this season. Juniors Jeff Webb and Robert Ortiz
have been Dlugolecki’s main targets this year. Webb has 37 catches
for 434 yards and three touchdowns, while Ortiz has managed to pull
down 23 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns.
Holland has been leading the Rams offense, but with the loss of
starting tight end Matt Bartz and injuries and double teams
plaguing David Anderson, Holland will be looking for other
receivers to get open.
“(We are) definitely (working on) getting our tight ends more
involved,” Holland said. “Get the ball to Dreessen and the other
tight ends, teams are starting to double our wide receivers,
especially Dave (Anderson), so get the ball to the tight ends more
and continue working on running the ball.”
One major obstacle that looks to punish the Rams offense, and
has in the past, is senior All-American linebacker Kirk Morrison.
Morrison, the 2003 MWC Defensive Player of the Year, led the Aztecs
with 115 tackles last year, 70 of them coming unassisted.
With two similar offenses that rely on the aerial attack and
have struggled on the ground, the Rams realize the importance of
winning this evenly matched contest.
“It’s so important, especially at this point, our remaining
games, every single one of them, is a must win,” Dreessen said. “To
accomplish what this football team wants to accomplish this year,
and we are definitely taking that sort of mindset into this week’s